Smartphones – we use them a lot these days, perhaps too much, but there is no denying they are a gold mine of clever tools and information. Over the course of my travels, I have explored a huge variety of travel apps. The apps listed below are the ones I come back to, time and time again. Some are great for pre-trip planning, others for when you’re on the road. If you’re about to head off on a big trip, take a look and see if any of these come in handy. I would love to hear some of your suggestions too.
This is my go-to app for finding cheap flights. Type in your destination and dates and you will get options from different air line companies, including stop-over times, ratings and prices. You can sort the search by price, ratings, duration etc. Just remember, with lots of the cheaper airlines, you will have to pay extra for things like baggage.
If you would prefer to book directly with the airline, this is still a great app for finding the best deals. You can later go directly to the website of your choice.
This is a fantastic app that teaches you whatever language you fancy in a structured manner, with a combination of reading, writing, speaking and listening. Definitely good to start before you go, but why not have it on the go whilst you’re travelling through the country too?
Lonely Planet: My City guides
I discovered this app when I was looking for some European inspiration at the beginning of the year. It includes comprehensive city guides for various capital cities, including Bangkok, Singapore, Barcelona, Berlin, New York and London (amongst many others).
Each downloadable guide includes great pictures and suggestions on what to see, where to eat, drink, shop, sleep and play! It will even show you where to go on the map. Say goodbye to the heavy guidebooks and just pop your phone in your pocket. And the best thing? It doesn’t cost you a cent!
This currency converter is fantastic if you are shopping at a local market trying to work out if you have a bargain at your fingertips, or if you are being ripped off! You will get to know the currency eventually, but when you have just arrived in a country and are struggling with thousands of Thai Baht or Vietnamese Dong, it really helps to keep this app handy! Based on the current exchange rate, this online tool is generally current and accurate, so you know what you are spending at all times.
Skype, Messenger and Whatsapp
If you are on the other side of the world and feeling a bit lonely or homesick, it is so easy to keep in touch with friends and family for an instant pick-me-up! Skype, Messenger and WhatsApp all perform similar functions, including sending instant messages, photos, phone and video calls. Plus, it is so inexpensive and easy, provided you have a strong internet connection.
This app was a life-saver in South-East Asia, when I didn’t have wifi on my phone all the time. Here, you can download detailed street maps of anywhere in the world, so you can work out where you’re going, even if google maps isn’t working. Obviously best to download the maps before you reach your destination, so you don’t get stranded.
This is such a good platform on which to start a travel blog. Very user-friendly, though it does require a bit of time to set up. I used to carry journals wherever I travelled, but they would get very heavy by the end of the trip. I came back from three months around Europe with six fat journals. In Asia, four journals filled up my backpack. As you can imagine, blogging about your adventures is a lot lighter, plus you get to share your journey with friends and family back home and have something great to look back on at the end.
Snapseed is a useful photo-editing app, which allows you to retouch, filter and adjust your travel snaps to make all your friends jealous back at home! It is fun muck around on whilst you are travelling on long bus journeys too. Just a quick tip, if you are using your phone as your primary camera, put it on flight mode during the day to save on battery. It also charges more quickly this way, if you are running short on time!
The torch definitely comes in handy when you are travelling, particularly when going into hostel rooms late at night, or packing your bags early in the morning (though please be respectful and do this the night before, so as not to disturb other sleepy travellers)! The torch is also great for adventures in the bush – you certainly don’t want to sit on a spider when you are going to the toilet in the middle of the night!
This app is great if you want to learn a quick phrase – just type in your language and let the translation come up in the language of your choice, be it German, Thai, French etc. The app will also help you with pronunciation and is an invaluable dictionary if you are taking language classes!
If you’re not quite ready to start a blog, instagram is a wonderful way to record and share your photos. Add a few hashtags and you will have people commenting from all over the world! You can also share these photos to your Facebook or other social media apps for maximum exposure. It is a colourful, simple way to record your travels, without the hassle of writing long explanations. A picture tells a thousand words!
Of course, you might not want to have your phone on you the whole time when you’re travelling. For some some people, going on a holiday means disconnecting from technology altogether. And trust me, I totally get this too! There’s nothing like being in nature, away from the distractions of every day life. Plus, you don’t want to miss those magic moments because your eyes are glued to the screen. But in your down time, back at the hostel or on a long flight, apps provide an invaluable means of travel planning, learning new skills, recording adventures and keeping in touch with people back at home.
What apps do you use when travelling? Do you prefer to leave your phone back at the hostel, or take it with you?
Note: All images are screenshots taken from my personal apps, which I have found to be the most useful. There are lots of similar apps that perform the same function!
Cover Image: supplied by pixabay.com