We’re living in 2018 now. Technology is all around us, it’s hard to hide from. Wifi is so easy to come by now and is almost expected when you check into a hostel or hotel. The technology we have today is pretty cool and incredibly helpful when travelling, it can get you from A to B or translate signs and menus. I’ve made a list of my favourite and most used travel apps from our recent travels. Sadly, all of these apps require wifi unless specifically stated otherwise. I’m pretty stingy with my data so I’d mainly used free wifi from hostels while travelling. But I have a few tricks to share to get around not using data on the go.
Obviously start with an easy one first. Google Maps is brilliant and so easy to use. Just plug in A and B and the app will promptly come up with a direct walking, driving, or public transport route. It can tell you if venues, restaurants or shops are open, or when their closing hours are, give you links to reviews and their website. The main downside is you generally need wifi or mobile data to use this app. To reduce your need for wifi while out, be organised and google walking or public transport routes while on your hostel wifi and screenshot it, so it’s saved on your phone when you need it. There have been multiple times where I’ve thought I know better than google and tried to take a shortcut or a faster route on the tube. But Google is pretty darn accurate and has proven me wrong many-a-time.
HERE we go
Another great mapping tool. This one is great because you could use the mapping tools while you’re out and about and you don’t need your data on. However, a little prep is still involved as you cannot search new locations without wifi. So, while on hostel wifi, search the locations you want to map out and save them to your personal map. Then when you’re walking around a foreign city, lost, you can pull out your saved map on the app and it will show you where you are and where your saved spots are. This is the best map I’ve tried that doesn’t require data when on the move.
There are two versions of this app, one for Europe and one for the UK. Personally, I’ve only used the UK version but they’re really similar. It’s very easy to use, plug in your origin, destination, timings, any rail cards and it can get you where you need to be. You can pay directly through the app. Magic! There is also a corresponding website that works just the same if you prefer those means.
Another great app with a website version. For Go Euro, I’ve mainly used the website rather than the app, but it works just the same. Pop in your cities and dates of departure and arrival. It delivers you all the options for train, bus or flight with your inputted data. This was a gem while travelling around Europe because it was so easy to compare prices and journey length of the different modes of transport.
Skyscanner is another gem for finding flight deals, again with a matching website. Sky scanner can search by date and destination across many different airlines to find you the best price. Or you can search just dates and it will give you the cheapest destination to fly to during that time (I will definitely be using this feature in the months to come). There are also a bunch of filters you can search by to stay within your price range or specific times or airlines.
One of the most used apps on our travels. We were really lucky to stay in some great locations with some amazing hosts through the Airbnb app. Staying with locals can give you a new insight into a city and its culture. Through this app, you can look for places to stay, either a private room or entire home, for various prices. Again with plenty of filters for the price range, location, duration and facilities. Most places offer wifi and some do not allow you to use different appliances or facilities, eg. kitchen, laundry. So just check the description to make sure it has what you require for your stay. We found Airbnbs were generally cheaper for us travelling as a couple if we were staying somewhere more than a few nights.
Not technically a travel app, but I found this such a helpful app when working out visas, bank accounts and job applications once abroad. The app allows you to take a clear picture of your documents and saves it as a pdf, instead of going through the pain of scanning and uploading. So for any documents, you need to digitalise or copies to print, you can photograph and email it to yourself. Saves a lot of time and trips to the copy shop.
Bank Specific Apps
Most banks these days have an app and when you’re on the road this is a blimin’ dream. You can transfer money into different accounts or currency cards, you can check your balances before getting money out. It’s fantastic. Another great feature that you need to ensure you have, is switching off your pay-wave cards or credit cards. I can’t vouch for other banks but on the ASB app you can switch off your pay-wave abilities and you can temporarily lock your credit card. So in the unlucky event that one of your cards gets lost or stolen you can temporarily lock or cancel your card with the flick of a button. So make sure to check out if your bank has this feature on their app.
This is a given. If you’re in a foreign country and don’t speak the language this app is super helpful. You can take a photo of a sign and the app can translate it. You can write English or another language into it and then voila! translated for your understanding or for a stranger’s understanding with whom you’re trying to communicate with. We used it in a train station when we were trying to get a refund and the help desk didn’t speak English. But if you’ve got the time it’s always hilarious to spend twenty minutes hand gesturing and playing charades to try and understand each other.
Lonely Planet Guides
A great app and much lighter than carrying around one of the Lonely Planet guides. This app gives you in-depth information on over 170 cities around the world. It’s curated by Lonely Planet writers with plenty of recommendations for restaurants and cafes, activities, sights and museums. There are also downloadable maps too, so you can use them offline.
This app is good if you’re staying a little longer somewhere and want to join in with some activities. You log in and select different activities you like for example hiking/tramping, meditation or photography and it lets you know about all the happenings and club events on in the area that you can go to. I’ve loaded mine onto London and I get notifications about photography walks and out-of-town hiking trips all around London.
All these apps are designed to make your life easier, they are not designed to take over you’re life completely. Just because you can find you’re way by the map on your phone doesn’t mean you can’t also ask a friendly local for a bit more help. Or spend 20 minutes trying to communicate with hand gestures, although frustrating, it’s hilarious.
Phones and tablets are amazing pieces of technology but seeing amazing landmarks for yourself and getting lost in a foreign city are some of the best things ever. So don’t forget to put your phone away and enjoy too!
I am a bit average at using apps and technology to their full potential so if there are any awesome apps I’ve missed or more features of the apps I’ve mentioned feel free to comment below and let me know!
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