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12 Best Apps for Solo Travelers

By Daniel Bortz
January 12, 2022
A solo traveler looks at her smartphone at the airport.
Yelizaveta Tomashevska/Dreamstime
Planning a solo vacation? From food to lodging to meeting like-minded travelers and locals, these apps can help with every aspect of your trip.

From booking cheap flights and hotels to staying fit on the go and recovering from jet lag, today’s mobile apps can solve a wide range of problems for travelers. They can also make it easier to travel alone, which is good news for the roughly one-third of consumers who take a solo vacation every year, according to a recent Travel Leaders Group consumer travel trends survey.

Here are the 12 best mobile apps for solo travelers. (P.S. We assume you’ve already downloaded our parent company Lonely Planet’s indispensable inspiration and planning apps, Trips and Guides.)

1. SoloTraveller

This widely trusted app lets you make new friends on your trip by connecting you with other solo travelers in your city in real time. It also helps you save money by pairing you people to share taxis, tours, or other travel expenses. You can find a travel mate nearby by searching for people based on age, gender, and interests.

Available on iPhone and Android.

2. Backpackr

Think of Backpackr like Tindr but for solo travelers—the app shows you people with similar interests who are headed to your destination. If you find a match, you can message the person to meet up. The app earns bonus points, in our book, for offering its members deals on hostels, pub crawls, bars, restaurants, and local tours.

Available on iPhone and Android.

3. Eatwith

Just because you’re traveling alone doesn’t mean you have to dine alone. The Eatwith app can connect you with locals in more than 130 countries for truly immersive cuisine. From dinner parties to food tours to cooking classes, the app has a variety of culinary events that let you wine and dine with local hosts at your destination. Users can filter food experiences based on dietary restrictions such as vegetarian, vegan, and Kosher meals.

Available on iPhone and Android.

4. BonAppetour

An alternative to Eatwith, BonAppetour helps travelers find immersive food experiences through in-home meals such as dinner parties, cooking classes, barbecues, and picnics.

Available on iPhone.

5. ChefsFeed

Offering restaurant and bar recommendations from chefs, bartenders, and sommeliers in major North American cities, ChefsFeed shows you how to eat and drink like a pro. Targeting younger travelers, the app bills itself as the "Anti-Yelp" in part because only positive reviews are welcomed.

Available on iPhone and Android.

6. Meetup

Another excellent tool for rubbing shoulders with locals while you’re traveling, this popular app brings like-minded people together in thousands of cities around the world. Use it to discover residents at your destination with specific interests, such as running groups, dance troupes, animal lovers, and more.

Available on iPhone and Android.

7. Travello

A social network for travelers, Travello uses your travel interests to match you with other nomads flying solo. It’s designed for a broad range of travelers, including urban tourists, backpackers, and gap-year adventurers.

Available on iPhone and Android.

8. Tourlina

Exclusively for women, Tourlina helps females find travel companions. Simple plug in your destination and travel dates, and the app will show you potential traveler partners, who you can then message to plan a trip together.

Available on iPhone and Android.

9. Mend

Though it’s not squarely designed for travel, Mend—an app that helps newly single individuals recover from breakups through audio trainings by mental health and wellness experts—offers travel guides for the freshly heartbroken to cities such as Boston, Los Angeles, and London.

Available on iPhone.

10. Couchsurfing

What better way is there to get to know new locals than crashing at their pad? The Couchsurfing app lets travelers search for a place to stay by using filters such as age range, gender, and friends of friends, and users can view references of potential hosts.

Available on iPhone and Android.

11. Chirpey

Focused on building a community for female travelers, Chirpey lets its members link up with other female travelers heading to their destination. Have a small emergency while you’re traveling, such as losing your wallet? Drop a message in the app and women traveling in the area will be notified that you need help.

Available on iPhone and Android.

12. Bumble BFF

Form friendships with locals and other travelers on Bumble BFF, an extension of the dating mobile app. Using your social networks, the app will connect you with friends of your friends in your local area, so you can meet companions at your travel destinations for coffee, city tours, meals, and more.

Available on iPhone and Android.

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Travel Tips

9 Items That Will Make Packing a Breeze

Packing can be a drag, but it’s much less stressful if you’ve got the proper equipment. From luggage racks to packing cubes, we’ve rounded up our go-to tools for making the experience easier, plus the non-negotiable items (think: a smart lint roller, a sleek electric toothbrush) that live in our suitcases year-round. Now all we need is someone to unpack for us. 1. For a Well-Organized Suitcase (Courtesy Shacke) Some of us stuff as many items of clothing into our carry-on as possible, even if we have to apply a knee to get it to zip. Others prefer a minimalist approach, and for that well-organized, streamlined experience, packing cubes are key. Shacke’s set of four comes in varying sizes that can be mixed and matched to hold everything you need for a short weekend hop or an extended 10-day stay, and your suitcase will be a Type A’s dream for the duration. (Pro-tip: Consider packing by day rather than by clothing category—i.e., all of Monday's gear goes in one cube, rather than, say, pants in one and socks in another—so you're not opening them all up every time you get dressed.)Shacke Pak 4 set packing cubes with laundry bag, $30; shacke.com. 2. For a Hassle-Free Packing Experience (Courtesy Wayfair) If you’re regularly on the go, packing can be a literal pain, especially if your suitcase is on the floor and you’re constantly bending down to do the job. (And if you’re putting it on your bed to load it up, stop immediately! Those wheels are just as filthy, if not more so, than airport security bins, and we all know how germy those things are.) A sturdy, no-frills luggage rack is a small luxury, but it’s one that’ll make a big difference. And as a bonus, your houseguests will surely appreciate it as well.Wayfair Basics chrome luggage rack, $30; wayfair.com. 3. To Wring Out Every Last Drop (Greg Marino) Americans are reluctant to take paid time off as it is—why squander those hard-earned days by not enjoying them to the full extent? Surely you can squeeze in one last dip in the ocean before you head to the airport—all you need is a place to stash your wet gear. ALOHA Collection’s splash-proof pouches keep damp bathing suits from leaking all over everything else in your pack, and with an array of extremely cute designs to choose from, they're functional and fashionable too.The Mid-Size pouch, $40; aloha-collection.com. 4. For a Carry-All That's Not a Space Hog (Courtesy Everlane) Planning on doing some serious souvenir shopping, or just looking for a way to carry everything you need for the day without resorting to a massive tote? When it's folded into its front pocket, Everlane’s packable backpack measures just 9-½ inches by 6-½ inches, so it'll slide right into your carry-on, and it’s emblazoned with a cheery “bon voyage” that'll get your trip started on the right foot.The packable backpack, $35; everlane.com. 5. To Wrangle Your Toiletries (Courtesy Topo Designs) Dopp kits are often a bottomless pit of toiletries and accoutrements, but the version from Topo Designs can help you avoid all that. Its unique triangular shape allows it to sit upright on narrow hotel sinks or shelves, and even though the interior is surprisingly spacious, the brightly colored lining makes it easy to find whatever you need. Whether you’re packing the entire medicine cabinet or traveling light, you'll have plenty of room. Dopp kit, $34; topodesigns.com. 6. For a Deep Clean On the Go (Courtesy Quip) Once you’ve switched from a standard brush to a water pick or an electric toothbrush, it’s tough to go back. Hardcore dental equipment doesn’t tend to be very portable, but when you’re on the road, Quip’s battery-operated electric model is just the ticket: With soft bristles and a sonic vibration motor, plus a sleek travel cover with a suction strip that adheres to any glossy surface, freeing up precious sink or shelf space, it’ll help you stick to your oral-hygiene regimen. Electric toothbrush set, from $40; getquip.com. 7. To Keep Your Clothes Pristine As much as we love our pets and miss them while we’re away, we really don’t need our apparel to serve as a reminder of the furry friends we’ve left behind. This clever lint roller from Flint is less than six inches long when closed, but it extends and retracts as needed and takes up next to no room while it’s at it. Refills are cinch, and it comes in so many colors and designs, you’re bound to find one that matches your luggage. Retractable lint roller, $10; amazon.com. 8. For Cozy Toes (Courtesy L.L. Bean) Even in the sunniest of climes, hotel air conditioning can be excessive. Your favorite well-worn slippers should probably remain where no one else can judge—or see—them, but a pair of cushy, cozy socks will keep your feet from freezing, no matter how low your travel companion likes to set the thermostat. This super-soft cotton-ragg set from L.L. Bean won’t itch or stretch; they're also quick drying and moisture-wicking, and they won’t occupy much real estate in your suitcase either. Cotton ragg camp socks, two for $20; llbean.com. 9. To Avoid That Rumpled Look Who wants to waste precious time and energy struggling with an unfamiliar iron? A portable steamer is a no-fuss way to eliminate wrinkles—and it’s much more effective than hanging your clothes in the bathroom while you shower and hoping that does the trick. (...what, like you haven't tried it?) This compact number from URPOWER weighs less than two pounds and measures just over eight inches tall, produces steam in a matter of minutes, and comes with a heat-resistant glove and a pouch to stash it in.URPOWER garment steamer, $25; amazon.com.

Travel Tips

Why You (Still) Need a Travel Agent

Ask Aurelio Giordano why someone should use a travel agent these days, and his reply is reflexive: “Do you have a couple of minutes?” The Brooklyn-based travel agent founded his company, Ace World Travel, in 2012 and has seen his business grow exponentially in recent years. These days it’s easy to assume that a vacation is a DIY undertaking. At least that’s what the countless websites that allow us to book a flight, make a hotel reservation, buy insurance, and explore area restaurants and sites would have us think. Not so fast. While you might see fewer travel agency storefronts than you did 20 years ago, it doesn’t mean that the industry has gone the way of Blockbuster Video. That’s because travel agents provide a valuable service that can feel rare in our digital era: personal guidance. And that’s hardly all. According to the American Society of Travel Advisors, the top three reasons people go to an expert are to save planning time, avoid mistakes, and improve the overall vacation experience. ASTA studies show that on average people can save 3.5 hours in planning and more than $300 per trip by working with a pro. We spoke to some veteran travel agents to get a full understanding of how they can help us travel better. The Travel Agent Industry Is Growing (Iuliia Mazur/Dreamstime) Grand Canyon? Been there. Boston’s Freedom Trail? Done that. And your parents did it, too. And your grandparents. Travel today ain't what it used to be. “Travelers these days are looking for different, exclusive experiences. They don’t want the kind of cookie-cutter trips they’d get through Expedia,” says Aurelio. “My agency has grown tremendously because people are looking for more specified and personalized itineraries." For plenty of people, time off is a rarity. It could take three years to save the time and money for a vacation, and they don't want just any trip, he says. ASTA reports that the Census Bureau’s 2015 figures, the latest available, showed that U.S. travel agencies employ 105,085 people, an 8 percent increase over five years. It’s a growth that Paloma Villaverde de Rico, editor-in-chief of Recommend Magazine, a trade publication, attributes to the boom in younger travelers. “What I can tell you from writing about the travel agent industry for the last 15 years is that there is definitely a surge in interest among millennials and even Gen Z (the young 20-somethings) in this profession—and this in reference to an industry that everyone thought would go away due to the Internet,” she says. Hand-Crafted, Personalized Vacations “It all starts with a conversation,” says Aurelio (facebook.com/aceworldtravel/). “I think people miss the human connection. They wanna talk to someone, they’re tired of pressing ‘one,’ but we're conditioned to accept that as the norm. There’s a huge lack in customer service these days because everything’s so automated and accessible through the touch of screen.” That human connection is the travel agent’s stock-in-trade. The better Aurelio understands a client’s particular preferences and interests, the more exclusive and fine-tuned and authentic the itinerary will be. There’s also the fact that not every travel business sells their services or product online. Some tour operators, for instance, only work business-to-business, which means a travel agent can connect you to services that you wouldn’t find on the web. According to Margie Jordan, vice president of the TRUE network, a division of the trade organization CCRC, a travel agent's job is best explained as a concierge service. “What I love about travel agents is the personally built relationships. The places I’m recommending are the best, say, hotel I’ve slept in. I’ve been there, I know staff, I’ve talked to them.” The Immeasurable Value of Insider's Knowledge (Ifeelstock/Dreamstime) “You wouldn’t go on a DIY architecture website to build your home, would you?” says Paloma. And so it goes with travel agents. An agent spends her career learning the tricks of the trade and building an arsenal of insider knowledge, then advises accordingly. She’ll know, for instance, that the best deals for cruises are available during wave season, so that’s the best time to make your purchase. Or consider you’re in London and you want to see Paris. A website won’t necessarily suggest that you drop the idea of packing up your stuff and staying overnight. Aurelio will tell you to simply make it a day trip—it’s only a two-hour-ish train ride, after all. Of course, that insider’s expertise extends far beyond transportation logistics. Giordano’s recommendations are based off years of networking, going to conferences and expos, visiting hotels, going on cruises, and so forth. His vast knowledge of places and people make him a valuable resource when someone has a specific need, like dietary restrictions or a disability. Group trips can also be easier to plan when you sit down with someone who’s seen the layout of the hotels and restaurants you’re considering. And as the travel industry grows and becomes more specialized, an agent can tailor a trip to niche interests. “What good travel agents are doing is becoming experts in one specific type of segment," Paloma says. "For example, there are travel agents who specialize in family travel, and within that you can find travel advisors who sell to LGBT family clients, or family clients with special needs. There are other advisors who sell wellness vacations, while others dedicate themselves to booking cruises, and still others to destination weddings and honeymoons (there are many millennials, for example, that dedicate themselves to this for obvious reasons)."

Travel Tips

Skincare to Go: 5 DIY Hacks for the Road

It’s happened to the best of us: You arrive at your destination only to realize that you left your moisturizer at home. You’re in a foreign country, and you can’t get a replacement. Who knows what effect a different brand might have on your skin? With or without your favorite product, however, breakouts and dryness could happen—that’s just one way your body might react to the various stressors brought on by travel. But there are ways to get your body back in alignment that don’t have to involve a visit to the drugstore. To get the details on tried-and-true do-it-yourself remedies, we turned to Violet Mkhitaryan, an aesthetician and spa owner who’s carrying the torch for time-tested skincare regimens—no designer products or fancy labels required. A trained biochemist in her native Armenia, Violet long ago realized her preference for the recipes and healthy practices learned at her grandmother's knee, and today, she incorporates those tips and tricks into the additive- and preservative-free products she makes by hand to use and sell at her spa, Violet Skin Boutique (violeltskinboutique.com), in Brookline, Massachusetts. She showed us how to bring some of her long-practiced tactics to modern life, especially when travel calls for you to reboot your bod. 1. Exfoliate to Clean and Refresh Anything abrasive gives your skin a deep clean and helps remove dirt and oil. There are plenty of natural ingredients that’ll do the trick, and chances are you already have them at your fingertips. Violet recommends mixing used coffee grounds with a teaspoon of sour cream, massaging the blend into your skin, and leaving it on for 10 to 15 minutes. The grounds act as an exfoliant, and the cream moisturizes. 2. Renew Your Natural Glow To help close pores, nourish skin, and rejuvenate your look, Violet turns to a dense, soothing slather: a tablespoon of oatmeal blended with a dollop or two of heavy cream. Apply to your face and leave for 10 to 15 minutes, then rinse off. 3. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate Fruits and vegetables have a higher moisture content than any other food. Take two strawberries, three grapes, and a third of a banana. Mash them together in a bowl with the back of a spoon, add a dollop of sour cream, apply the mixture to your face, and leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse and feel refreshed and hydrated. 4. Tone It Up Regardless of whether or not you’re traveling, your skin needs a regular boost. Think of a toner as the skincare equivalent of yoga: It simply gives skin a chance to open up and breath. Violet turns to cucumber or watermelon juice. Use a cotton ball to apply, then lay a tissue over your face as a sheet mask. Let it sit for five minutes, then rinse off. 5. A Simple Cure for Puffiness Nothing can mess with your skin’s moisture levels more than a plane’s recirculated air. At high altitudes, you’re dry. Back on the ground, things can change drastically, especially if you arrive somewhere humid or rainy. The consequences aren't pretty: puffiness, especially around the eyes. According to Violet, though, there’s an easy solution. Massaging your face with ice for a few minutes should help recalibrate everything.

Travel Tips

9 Ways to Plan an Affordable (and Amazing) Honeymoon

Honeymoons are romantic, but they can also be expensive. On average, couples are shelling out $5,342 on their honeymoon, according to a recent report from The Knot, an online registry and wedding planning site. That’s on top of what they’re spending on their wedding, which costs, on average, $33,931 nationally. But, there are ways to trim your honeymoon budget without taking away from the romance of this special trip. Here are nine things you can do to plan a budget-friendly honeymoon. 1. Book Flights Early Do a Google search for “best time to book a flight” and you’ll find a seemingly endless number of studies claiming what the best day is to hit the “buy” button. Don’t fret, though—we’ve sifted through the research and found there’s a consensus: travelers typically get the best prices by booking flights at least three weeks in advance. Indeed, CheapAir.com recommends booking within a window of 21 to 105 days ahead, depending on the season, with a domestic-flight sweet spot of 54 days before departure. Supporting that is a 2018 report from Expedia and the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), which examined billions of data points to identify travel patterns and found that bargain-minded economy travelers should book 30-plus days in advance. 2. Avoid Paying Foreign Transaction Fees Planning to honeymoon abroad? Some credit cards charge up to a 3% fee on foreign transactions. Though that may seem small, it can effectively negate whatever rewards points, dollars, or miles you’d earn using the card. That’s why Bill Hardekopf, a credit expert at LowCards.com, recommends international travelers always bring a credit card with no foreign transaction fees such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. One caveat: some destinations, such as Cuba, do not honor U.S.-based bank or credit cards—meaning you’ll have to arrive with cash if you’re heading to one of those locales. 3. Save Big on Lodging Good news:T are some simple, yet effective strategies to save on lodging. If you’re planning to stay at hotels, call the concierge to find out what the rate is—sometimes the over-the-phone price is cheaper than the online price—or use a bidding site like Priceline where hotels compete for your business. If you’re shopping for vacation rental, such as an Airbnb, don’t be afraid to haggle with the owner for a lower rate. (You’ll have more leverage if can request a multi-night stay.) 4. Choose a Destination Where Your Dollar Will Go Far One way to trim your trip’s expenses is by choosing a location with a strong exchange rate. On the extreme end of the exchange-rate spectrum, you may want to consider honeymooning in Argentina, Sweden, or Nigeria, where the exchange rate for the U.S. dollar is predicted to decrease by double digits in 2019, according to a forecast by Carlson Wagonlit Travel, a U.S.-based travel management company. But you can also opt for a more moderate exchange rate by doing your homework before choosing your destination. 5. Travel During the Shoulder Season Traveling during the “sweet spot” between high season and low season can help you nab a great honeymoon at a shockingly low price. Though shoulder seasons can vary when traveling abroad, most airfares and hotel rates in the U.S. drop in popular summer destinations as summer turns to fall, especially in beach towns, National Parks, and theme parks. 6. Want Fixed Costs? Book an All-inclusive Honeymoon For couples that have trouble sticking to a budget while traveling, staying at an all-inclusive resort may be the most cost-effective option. With an all-inclusive resort your room, meals, drinks, taxes, and airport transfers are paid for as one flat fee—meaning you’ll never feel tempted to whip out your wallet and make an impulsive splurge. Pro tip: Staying at an adults-only resort will up the romance—letting you enjoy candlelit dinners for two and couples’ massages without the hustle-bustle of families with children nearby. 7. Take Advantage of Free Entertainment When you’re on the ground you can curb expenses by going to free museums and events. Nearify, a free mobile app (available on Android and iPhone) that compiles happenings in hundreds of cities, can help you discover free events near your location. Also, a number of cities offer free walking tours, which you can find on Google and FreeToursByFoot.com. 8. Redeem Discounts for Premium Memberships Many hotels, rental car companies, and attractions offer reduced rates for members of frequent flier programs, credit card holders, and organizations like AAA and AARP. However, you may need to do a little digging to find these discounts, or inquire about them when booking reservations. 9. Need a Bigger Budget? Set Up a Honeymoon Registry Nowadays many couples are creating a honeymoon registry to supplement their travel expenses. Having this registry will make it easy for your family and friends to donate cash for your honeymoon. Most wedding registry websites, including WeddingWire and The Knot, let you set up a honeymoon registry alongside your gift registry.