5 Best Apps for Editing your Travel Photos on the Go

How to Make Your Vacation Pictures Stand Out

Adelina Kiskyte

|August 6, 2019

Adelina is a curious writer, journalist, a keen traveler and a big fan of bonny Scotland, her second home after Lithuania.

Touching up our photos before they go out into the big wide world of social media is a standard routine for most of us. A little crop, a light brush to enhance the colors and you’re ready to share that flawless vacation moment.

Nobody wants to spend ages working on their photos while there’s still so much to see and do on your vacation! So what are the best apps for a quick and easy touch-up on the go? 

After speaking to our photographer, Matas, I’ve learned how to take the best pictures in Iceland.

Now, it’s time to step up our photography game and find out what magic we can do with photo editing apps you can download straight to your phone. 

As not much of an app user, I decided to experiment a bit. I tested various photo editing apps that work on both iOS and Android devices. I took a single photo from Iceland and touched it up with three of the most popular photo editing apps for semi-beginners. 

Then Matas touched up the same picture with two of his own apps. Let’s see which photo editing app is the best for your travel photos!

First, the Original Photo: 

The original image - taken with iPhone XS


I used VSCO to sharpen and crop the picture

This app is easy to navigate and doesn’t take much time to crack, even if you’re using it for the first time. VSCO has a selection of presets that change the contrast and colors of your pictures. You can also decide how intense the preset should be. Simply choose a style and it’ll be saved in your history, so you don’t have to scroll forever the next time you want to use the same tones. 

The editing options are quite basic but include all the main tools: adjustment, contrast, white balance, etc. You can purchase a membership to unlock even more tools, such as borders and HSL (hue, saturation, lightness). 

One of the more interesting features on this app is the recipes. VSCO allows you to create a recipe based on your past edits, making the process even quicker, as it remembers all your most-used presets.

What Did I Edit? I used one of the presets, slightly sharpened the picture and cropped it.

How Long Did it Take to Edit the Picture? About as long as making a cup of coffee.

How Easy Was the Process? Easy!

How Much Is the App? It has a free version, which is pretty cool! It seems to have enough editing features for a quick touch-up. If you want to unlock more tools and filters, you need to sign up with a monthly subscription fee. They offer a 7-day free trial to help you make up your mind.


Snapseed offers to add some "Glamour Glow" to your shots

For a quick fix, this app offers a selection of different styles that change the colors of your photo. Looking for something more elaborate? Go into tools and choose from a number of features, including curves, grainy film, vignette, and double exposure. 

To make your picture more fun, the app offers to add “Retrolux” and a “Glamour Glow.” It even has a “Drama” button that allows you to choose from different filters to create a more dramatic effect. You can also add text and a frame to make your pictures fun and lively!

What Did I Edit? I applied one of the styles, cropped and used the “Heal” function.

How Long Did it Take to Edit the Picture? Snapseed has more tools so it took me slightly longer than editing on VSCO. While I wasn’t sure what they all were at first, it took me only a minute or two to press on each and see what they did to the photo. Overall, no more than five minutes in total.

How Easy Was the Process? Wasn’t too hard, but it requires some time to get familiar with the tools.

How Much Is the App? Free to download.


Played with Instagram to create a more dramatic effect

If you only know one photo editing app, it’s probably this one. You can do more than just edit your photos on Instagram, it’s also a social network people use to share their pictures. It has many basic features like filters, color adjustments, and shadows. 

If you post your image as a story, you can edit it further with different text styles, drawings, and funny face filters. You can also film and edit video on this app.

What Did I Edit? I added the “Ludwig” filter, cropped the photo, and slightly changed the saturation. I also adjusted the brightness and contrast to make the colors more dramatic.

How Long Did it Take to Edit the Picture? Less than two minutes, but to be fair, I’ve used this app before. However, even a first time user will figure the app in no time.

How Easy Was the Process? Very easy.

How Much Is the App? It’s free and some people even manage to make money.

Adobe Lightroom Mobile

After Adobe Lightroom Mobile

If you want more options than just changing your pictures into a black and white image, try Lightroom. One of its best features is that you can remove unwanted objects, for example, that tourist who photobombed you with his pineapple cocktail! This app is perfect for more experienced users who already know what to do with raw photos. 

Lightroom offers professional tools such as color tone curves, split toning, and masking that plays with sharpening the picture. The mobile app synchronizes with Lightroom desktop software, so you can use it on both your phone and computer.

Since I’m not an experienced user and certainly don’t know what to do with raw files, our photographer, Matas, came to the rescue and used Lightroom to edit this picture.

What Did Matas Edit? Matas used the healing brush to delete the person in the red jacket from the photo. He then cropped and slightly rotated the photo because the horizon wasn’t 100% straight. He added a Color Profile and adjusted the Color Panel as well as the Light menu by increasing exposure, adding contrast, and slightly lifting black colors. Tapping into the Remove Chromatic Aberration and Enable Lens Correction tools, he also changed the texture, sharpened the picture and corrected the optics.

How Long Did it Take to Edit the Picture? It took him around 10 to 15 minutes, but it wasn’t the first time Matas had used the app.

How Easy Was the Process? Fairly easy for a professional photographer who has used it before. Difficult for someone who’s only ever used Instagram filters, but nothing a few hours of practice wouldn’t fix.

How Much Is the App? Some of the tools on Adobe Lightroom are free. To get more features, the app can be purchased together with a Creative Cloud Photography plan.


It took 5-10 minutes to edit the picture with Darkroom

This app is one of Lightroom's main competitors. Darkroom is easier to navigate, even if you’re not a pro photo editor (yet!). It has slightly fewer tools, but all the major editing features are available. Sadly, the app is only available on iOS devices.

What Did Matas Edit? First, Matas applied a color preset and changed the opacity. Then he adjusted the brightness, contrast, highlights, shadows, saturation, vibrancy, and white balance, and added fade, grain, vignette, and sharpness. The result is a photo that will make everyone jealous of your holiday in Iceland!

How Long Did it Take to Edit the Picture? Matas has used this app before and it took him 5-10 minutes.

How Easy Was the Process? It’s user-friendly and easier to use than Adobe Lightroom Mobile — just with fewer tools.

How Much Is the App? The app has a free basic version with limited features. More tools such as color adjustments and curves are available as in-app purchases.

After all this careful photo editing, I can confidently say that I wish I had known about these apps earlier! Even a light color adjustment can make a big difference and turn your casual picture into a pro-looking photograph you’ll want to hang on your wall. 

So what’s the verdict?

When it comes to the best photo editing apps to use on the go, my personal favorite is VSCO. It only took a few minutes to brush up the picture, plus it was easy to use and had many tools to pick from, but not so many you’d get lost. When you’re on the road and want to hurry and get your shiny photos up on your feed fast — here’s an editing app that won’t disappoint. 


Feeling more confident about your photo editing game? Submit your photo of #HotArctic to WIN a 6-Day Tour in Iceland!