Phone in flight mode

25 of the Best Offline Travel Apps for Your Next Trip

By Jordan Nottrodt Android, iOS29 Comments


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When you travel, there are times you’re bound to find yourself without internet access. Long flights or bus journeys through the countryside often leave you disconnected for several hours.

Maybe you’re transiting between destinations and don’t have a working SIM card, or have just arrived in a new country and haven’t been able to buy one yet. That, of course, is usually when you need it most.

Even in this increasingly-connected world, there’ll be plenty of times on the road when you can’t get online. The good news is there are dozens of travel apps that remain useful when your internet lifeline gets cut.

These are 25 of the best offline travel apps for trip planning, navigation, taking notes, reading, entertainment, and emergencies on the road.

Travel Essentials

Tripit

Tripit is a lifesaver. The app takes your email confirmations for flights, accommodations, and car rentals, and turns them into a detailed trip itinerary. It’s exactly the tool you need to double-check confirmation numbers, hotel addresses, and more.

You’ll get a local map and a few other extras if you have a data connection, but the main features work offline as long as you’ve synced your latest itinerary. There’s a Pro version for $49/year that adds award point tracking, realtime notifications of delays, and so on, but the basic, free app works just fine for most people.

XE Currency

There are a number of currency conversion apps out there, but XE Currency is one of the oldest and still one of the best. Use it to figure out how much money to take out of the ATM, how much dinner is about to cost, and pretty much any other transaction a traveler could make.

Just install the app and add the currencies you think you might use anytime soon, and it will take care of the rest. Rates are updated whenever you get an internet connection. You can quickly convert between your chosen currency and all the others on a single screen, even when you’re offline.

Google Translate

Heading somewhere where you don’t speak the language? Sure, you can (and should) pick up a phrasebook to get the basics down, but there are many other ways your phone can help you figure out what’s going on.

Both the Android and iOS versions of Google Translate let you download many different language packs for offline use. You can also point the phone camera at a sign or menu for real-time visual translation. You’ll get more features with an internet connection, but the basics work just fine without one.

Clocks

World Clock

World Clock allows you to keep track of the time around the world. If you have family and friends around the world, you’ll always know when to call them without waking them up. There’s even a home screen widget if you find yourself checking all the time.

iOS has a global clock built right into the operating system, but if you’re looking for more features, check out World Clock App instead.

Triposo

Paper guidebooks used to be the ultimate offline travel accessory, but even they have made the transition to the digital age. Take Triposo, a multi-function app that takes crowd-sourced information from Wikitravel, Wikipedia, and several other sites and wraps it up into a slick, useful offline guide.

Download the data pack for a given country or city before leaving home, as they’re quite large. You’ll get recommendations for activities, hotels, restaurants, and more, including a map and basic directions.

There’s plenty of background information on each destination, as well as phrasebooks, currency conversion, and more. It’s an impressive app, especially given the price (free).

Lonely Planet Guides

When all you’re after is saving a bit of space and weight, the trusty Lonely Planet guides now come in ebook format (including ePub, Mobi, and PDF). Being able to download individual chapters is an added benefit if you don’t need the whole book. Download them onto any device, including smartphones and tablets, laptops, Kindle, or Kobo.

Navigation

Subway Map Apps

Subway systems are a great invention for locals and travelers alike—when you know how they work. Figuring out how to get from A to B isn’t always easy, especially once you get into a crowded carriage and can’t even see the little map on the wall.

Rather than treading on a dozen pairs of toes every time you try to spot your stop, take a couple of minutes ahead of time to download an offline map. There are apps for pretty much every major metro system in the world.

Try Tube Map for the London Underground, the New York Subway MTA Map, or just search the App or Play store for whichever city you’re going to.

Google Maps

Once you’re back above ground, the navigation woes continue. It used to be that if you didn’t have data or a paper map, you were out of luck. Thankfully, several navigation apps now work well (or well enough) without a connection.

Start with Google Maps. You’ve probably got this free app installed already, and it has the ability to save an unlimited number of offline maps. Since GPS doesn’t rely on the internet, that magic blue dot will still show you where you are even when you’re disconnected.

CityMaps2Go

CityMaps2Go isn’t free, but it has more offline features, including address searches, detailed city guides, public transportation information, and standard navigation features.

You can also use it for itinerary planning with to-do lists available on your map wherever you go. With the paid version, you can save multiple locations in advance to help you plan your full trip before you leave.

HERE WeGo

Formerly Nokia Maps, HERE WeGo may be the best of the lot. With full offline navigation and public transport maps, plus the ability to download entire regions or countries with a couple of taps, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Download offline maps of Germany, France, Italy, Australia, the United States, and over 100 other countries. 

Maplets

Download offline maps of your favorite places and access them wherever you are with Maplets. Largely focused on the areas other tools don’t cover, its 12,000+ maps cover everything from national parks and mountain bike trails to college campuses, theme parks, and much more.

Maplets isn’t free, but it’s worth the added price if you plan to spend time in areas traditional maps don’t cover well. 

🗺 For more offline navigation options and comparisons, we recently covered several other offline maps apps as well.

Notebook and cup on table

Note Taking

Evernote

Offline notebooks for planning, to-do lists, and journaling come in handy when you’re traveling and don’t have internet access. Evernote is one of the oldest and most well-known note-taking apps, with a long list of features including templates designed specifically for travelers. Use them for itineraries, budgets, checklists, travel goals, and more.

You can also scan any travel documents into Evernote, so if you lose your documents, phone, or laptop, you can access your Evernote account from any device.

By default it works online, but you can set up offline notebooks on mobile devices to have access to all your notes, saved web pages, and everything else no matter where you happen to be. While Evernote itself is free, the offline notebooks feature is only available with the Plus, Premium, and Business paid versions.

Google Keep

Sometimes you don’t need anything fancy, just a simple little app to take notes about what’s going on or create quick checklists. Available for iOS, Android, and desktop browsers, Google Keep lets you enter text, draw, or take a photo you can then annotate. Notes are synced between devices and can be archived when no longer useful.

Google Docs Offline Mode

With the change of one simple setting, you can access Google Drive files offline from your mobile device. It’s important to note that you can only turn on offline access if you’re connected to the internet, so do this step in advance. 

You can access offline mode for Google Docs, Sheets, or Slide. Make sure you’ve downloaded the appropriate app(s) from the Google or Apple app store as well.

Reading

Flym News Reader (Android)

Let’s face it: long flights, layovers, and bus rides can get pretty dull no matter how good the view out the window is. The bright side is those drawn-out trips are a great time to catch up on reading.

You can use Flym News Reader to subscribe to RSS feeds from your favorite sites, and then sync unread articles to your Android device. It will pull article text and images down to your phone or tablet, and you can then read for hours without an internet connection.

Pocket

Use Pocket to bookmark articles from around the web. It pulls down everything you saved, so you can read your favorite content while perched uncomfortably amongst the chickens on yet another overnight bus, or wherever you find yourself.

Pocket is also useful when researching a trip, letting you tag saved pages for easy access later. Use tags for countries, cities, activities, or anything else that makes sense, and then filter by tag as needed. It’s available for iOS, Android, and desktop browsers.

Kindle

Prefer to read books? The free Kindle app downloads electronic books and magazines you’ve purchased from Amazon, even if you don’t have a physical e-reader.

It’ll also sync your progress whenever you do have a connection, so you can keep reading on any other Kindle app or device.

Audible

For those who prefer audiobooks, the free trial of Audible gives you 30 days free, plus free audiobooks for signing up. You can download audiobooks to your app ahead of time, then listen without using Wi-Fi or data.

The app offers a handy Sleep Timer for when you want help falling asleep on long journeys, but don’t want to lose your place in the book. You can set the timer for up to an hour, or until the end of a chapter. We talked more about Audible for travelers here.

Woman on bus with earbuds and phone

Entertainment

Pocket Casts

If reading on the move makes you sick or you’re on a night flight and don’t want to disturb those around you, opt for some audio entertainment instead. Podcasts are great for whiling away the hours—plus, they’ll drown out the engine noise and endless chatter at the same time.

There are plenty of free apps for listening to podcasts, including those built right into iOS and Android, but they’re quite limited. Especially now that Pocket Casts has a completely free version, it’s worth checking out. It has many extra features, along with a better user experience.

Spotify

Save your favorite music to listen to offline with Spotify. The premium version of Spotify allows you to download as much music as you can fit on your phone to listen to anywhere offline.

Spotify also has an extensive podcast library, so you can access your favorite music and podcasts (including several Spotify exclusives) all from the same app.

Netflix

Download your favorite movies or the next few episodes of the TV show you’re currently binging from Netflix. Just make sure you download the content you want to watch before you leave your Wi-Fi connection behind.

Note too that some downloaded shows have expiry dates, after which you’ll need to download them again if you still want to watch them. The Netflix app is available for iOS, Android, Amazon Fire, and Windows 10 devices.

QUIZLET

Quizlet helps you study while offline, so you don’t have to lug around a bunch of textbooks. With the free version, you can create as many cue card sets as you want and study without notifications while offline.

The paid version allows you to access public cue card sets from other app users, even in airplane mode. Topics span across all disciplines, including languages, science, math, history, and computer skills.

Emergencies

American Red Cross First Aid

Staying healthy and safe is a major concern for travelers, especially in countries where communicating with a doctor can be a challenge. American Red Cross First Aid is a free app with step by step instructions for dealing with the most common first aid emergencies, such as heart attacks, choking, or allergic reactions.

The video training is a nice touch, so you can prepare in advance rather than being thrown in the deep end when there’s a problem.

Allergy FT

For those traveling with allergies, Allergy FT is a welcome addition to the health toolkit. Visiting a French, German, or Spanish-speaking country? The app can translate over 80 different food allergies into the local language along with a warning message for a waiter or street vendor. The translations are all built into the app, so no connection is required.

In Case of Emergency / Medical ID Record

In Case of Emergency for Android and Medical ID Record for Apple devices both provide your personal health information to first responders or health practitioners should they need it in an emergency.

With both apps, you can enter your relevant health information, including allergies, conditions, medications, and emergency contacts, all in one place so it can be shown on demand to anyone who needs it.

Emergency medical information and emergency contacts will display on your lock screen for first responders and doctors if you aren’t able to answer questions. It’s an invaluable tool in an emergency, and it can help deal with communication barriers should the worst happen in an area of the world where you don’t speak the local language.


There are plenty more offline travel apps out there — these 25 are just scratching the surface! Do you have any favorites we’ve left out?

Images via Rudy and Peter Skitterians (phone in flight mode), Gerd Altmann (clocks), Thom Holmes (notebook on table), Alexander Popov (woman on bus)

About the Author
Jordan Nottrodt

Jordan Nottrodt

Jordan works remotely, from home or abroad, to help businesses conquer their online messaging. When she's not working or relaxing outside, she's watching movies and shows to contribute to her goal of creating the largest database of online drinking games. Spark an immediate and detailed conversation by mentioning Mad Men or Game of Thrones.

Comments

  1. Avatar

    Reeder for RSS feeds and Simple Note for taking notes here. Also Spotify offline tracks for my music.

  2. Avatar

    How about an app for keeping track of travel budget and daily purchases? Something to help me stick to my daily budgeted amount?

    1. Avatar

      For iphones there’s Trail Wallet, which I hear is good though I’ve never tried it as it’s not available for Android. I use a really basic travel expense tracker called Travel Pocket. It’s no-frills, but does what I need to. There aren’t a lot of good options on Android sadly.

      1. Dave Dean

        We reviewed an earlier version of Trail Wallet and liked it, and the latest release is even better.

        You’re right about there not being much that’s any good on Android — I use one called InEx Finance because it works offline, syncs to a central server and had the categorization, exporting and multi-currency support I needed, but it’s seriously ugly and kinda glitchy. If there was something better, I’d switch for sure.

      2. Avatar

        I’ll second Trail Wallet been using it for two months now and LOVE it! Can’t believe it didn’t make the list. No more trying to put stuff in a janky Excel smartphone mess. It’s free to try but totally worth the $5. No more trying to convert dollars to bhat or bhat to Dong to include in the budget it handles multiple currencies on the fly!
        So thankful to my wife for finding it and showing it to me.

      3. Dave Dean

        Heh, it only didn’t make the cut because I chose to stop after 25 apps … could easily have kept going. Definitely a lot better than trying to do anything in a spreadsheet on a smartphone — it’s seriously painful!

  3. Avatar

    Looks like WikiSherpa has been discontinued.

    The Here maps are great! So much more detailed and faster to load than Google Maps. Just wish they had maps for all countries. Will have to stick to CityMaps2Go or Google for Japan.

    1. Dave Dean

      Good spotting — looks like they discontinued WikiSherpa between me writing this piece and publishing it! I’ve replaced that recommendation with one for Tripoto instead, since it offers similar offline features (and several extra ones) and seems to work pretty well. It’s an impressive app, actually.

      It’s funny, the reason I went with Here maps in Taiwan was because Google didn’t offer offline maps here. Looks like each provider has its own little quirks…

  4. Avatar

    I really like MixZing for my music, it’s just a good way to play the files that are already on your phone, no streaming available. And for offline maps I really like Stay City Guides. You can add a bunch of different thing you want to do or take their suggestions and download the map while you’re connected. Used it when getting super lost in Venice and it was a lifesaver!

    1. Dave Dean

      Ahh, MixZing! I used it for quite a while on my old Samsung smartphone — I liked the app, but it was a bit too resource-heavy for that particular phone. It’d just lag or crash too often for my liking. I’m sure it’d be a lot better on newer hardware, though — I must check it out again at some stage. Thanks for the reminder!

  5. Avatar

    Hi Dave,

    Not an app (yet) but I’d love to some shameless self promotion. YourFitTrip has maps of each terminal and each concourse and points to where the healthy options. While it’s web-based travelers can bookmark and add it to offline readers or just reference on the cab/in the car to the airport.

    It’s encouraging travelers to know the healthy spots before they just pick the closest one to their gate!

    Readers can find the guide here… http://www.yourfittrip.com/airport-guide/

    Would love to hear what airports everyone would like to see next!

    happy holidays!
    Lindsay

  6. Avatar

    Great post, Dave. A while back Dustin recommend Pocket and is has been an excellent addition to my phone. Lets me read articles and website-based travel guides (like wikitravel) offline. Also, they send an email each week with the most interesting articles.

  7. Avatar

    These all need wifi, to work, but for anyone updating their apps after reading this article may want to add these 3 essentials I use almost every day travelling:

    – TunnelBear, which Too Many Adapters has recommended before for VPN. Easy to use, secure browsing, and all that jazz. It even works in China (despite TunnelBear’s claim that their bears and pandas don’t get along).

    – SkyScanner is my app of choice for finding the best airfares. I’ve even booked via them (when the airline’s site price was higher) without problem.

    – Of course WhatsApp to keep in touch with everyone

  8. Avatar

    Thanks, a great article. I’m using most of these apps, though for navigation I prefer Spyglass. It supports different maps, depending on my current needs: google maps, apple maps, open street map and open cycle map. It’s also very important that the app can read pre-downloaded maps when offline. Besides, it has many useful features for those people that are not very good in orienting. The app shows your current position on the map, can save waypoints and locations, for example, your car or your hotel location. https://itunes.apple.com/app/spyglass/id332639548?mt=8&at=11lLc7&ct=c

    1. Dave Dean

      “The new free app to use your mobile number over Wi-Fi or linked to a local SIM card.”

      It doesn’t sound very offline to me.

  9. Avatar

    Thanks Dave!!! I stumbled across this article in my quest for info for a trip to Europe this summer (2015). What fantastic information! Wish I had found this, say 2 months ago…

    I am not very tech savvy, but with the great details and explanations you shared, I feel armed and ready to peruse and download some very helpful apps. I was really dreading having to deal with the roaming “ravager.”

    Thanks again, Sally

  10. Avatar

    What about workout apps? Most require internet access. I’d like some quick intense workouts on my phone that I can download before I go.

    1. Dave Dean

      The only fitness apps I’ve personally used on the road are Runkeeper, 7 Minute Workout and 100 Pushups. None of them need internet access for their main functions, but they may not be the kind of workout you had in mind.

  11. Avatar

    Great post, Dave! I would also recommend to check out Polarsteps (https://www.polarsteps.com). It’s an automated travel tracker app that tracks your journey offline and as soon as you are online again, it automatically updates itself. Plus, it is easier to upload pictures on the go and share them with family and friends!

  12. Avatar

    Dave, my wife and I are retired and definitely not tech savvy. We will be living in Mexico for about a year and thought we thought we had secured phone service for the duration of our trip. We went to Cricket which had a Mexican plan. We told the agent how long we were going to be gone and they recommended their plan for an extra $20 per month which would allow us to use our current phone in Mexico and our family in the US would be able to call just by using our current U.S. number. We would be able to call our family just by adding the country code for no extra charge. All of this worked fine for a while until we started getting notices from Cricket stating we were using the plan more than 50% in Mexico and if we did not correct this they would cancel our service. Hello we told them we would be living in Mexico for a year. When I called for clarification they said I apparently did not read the contract correctly since the 50/50 requirement was published. So much for listening to Cricket sales people and them listening to our needs. That said, we need a phone service that will keep our current U.S. number yet allow us simple Mexico to U.S. calls and receive U.S. to Mexico from our family without breaking the bank (we are in Mexico to save money on dental service). We have a Samsung 6 and use it for internet etc. Can you recommend a path for us to take? Thank you, Ken

    1. Dave Dean

      I make all my calls with friends and family with Skype from my phone or a laptop, which is free. As long as your Internet speed is reasonable, the call quality is typically as good as a cell, plus you can make video calls etc. So, I just buy a local SIM in Mexico — which I wrote about here — and make Skype calls etc as needed from there. You’ll need to talk to Cricket, though, about how you can keep your existing US number, even if you’re not using it. There may be some cheap prepaid plan they can put you on that essentially puts your number ‘on hold’ until you return to the US. If they can’t or won’t help you, you’ll need to move to a different US cell carrier to keep your number alive.

      You have other options. You could try to move to (eg) T-Mobile, which also has an affordable plan that includes roaming in Mexico. They also have limits on how much you can use it outside the country, but it might be long enough to last until your return home. You could also move your US phone number to Google Voice and make/receive calls that way. Both of those approaches are more complicated to do, especially from Mexico, though, and if you’re not especially tech savvy, it may not be worth the hassle for you.

  13. Avatar

    Hey Dave,

    Great read! Thanks for all the info.

    I was looking into translators for my iPhone and discovered that Google partnered with Word Lens and now has an iPhone version of “Google Translate.” The site link to Word Lens also redirects to Quest Visual by Google. The app is pretty slick. Thought I’d let you know!

    Thanks again!
    Simone

    1. Dave Dean

      Thanks Simone! I updated the translation info, and took the opportunity to update the rest of the post as well. 🙂

    1. Dave Dean

      There are quite a few apps like that — they can’t work offline, though, which is what this post is about.

  14. Avatar

    This is brilliant, because often I have had issues of not being able to use Apps as most are online. I have been using Xe Currency for a few years now but Pocket Cast seems like really cool as does CityMaps2Go. I use Pocket to store articles that I can read later on when offline.

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