Let’s face it, phones have become integral tools for the intrepid traveller. So to help you on your next voyage, we’ve put together a list of some of the best travel apps to make your journey go that much smoother!
1. Google Trips – the all-around app
Google Trips is an incredibly user friendly and thorough travel app. It connects with your Gmail account and accesses all of your information to cater to your needs. It accesses past trips you’ve taken and places you’ve visited and reviewed to tailor its recommendations to your preferences. In addition, it saves any travel information you’ve already planned such as flight information and reservations so it can help you plan around those concrete details.
Google Trips has more search categories than any other app we’ve used. The “things to do” section covers everything from; nightclubs to kid friendly activities, indoor and outdoor suggestions, and religious sites and famous sites (plus a bunch of other categories). Food and drinks is its own section with tons of recommendations and reviews. You can search based on location, type of food, star review – the possibilities are endless.
This app also helps you plan half day trips or full day trips. It shows you which sites are close together so you can optimize the hours in your day (and save yourself travel time). It also has easy access to Google Maps to help you navigate. *Travel Note #1: download the map of the city you’re visiting ahead of time so you don’t use data.
The other great thing about Google Trips is the “things to know” section. This section tells you vital information about the place. For example; precautions to take (like don’t drink the water), etiquette (like how much to tip), crime rate and safety, health and hospitals, and more. It also details the options for getting around, how expensive the city is, and pretty much anything else you need to know. You can also download your entire trip so you don’t need to use data abroad.
2. Airbnb – the accommodation app
Airbnb is my favourite travel app for accommodation. Airbnb does allow users to search three categories: homes, experiences, or places…however, most people just use it to search homes. Your accommodations can make or break your trip. Airbnb allows you to stay in unique places with lots of character. It’s especially great if you have a specific getaway in mind. For example, you don’t care where, you just want a cottage weekend. You can find amazing places on Airbnb for reasonable prices (really, where else can you find a remote treehouse cabin, a hobbit hole, or tiny house?).
There are three types of accommodation options: entire place, private room, or shared room. You can also filter by price, kid or pet friendly, extras like if it has a pool, hot tub, Wi-Fi, laundry, and a bunch of other things so you can search for exactly what you want. Airbnb also has a map view so you can zoom in and get to know the surrounding area. Airbnb is awesome for this because a lot of condos and homes are closer to concert and festival venues than hotels. So, if you’re travelling specifically for an event, you can find a place right across the street!
The last feature to mention is the saving options. You can create different folders for different trip ideas and save the related accommodations in this folder for easy viewing and comparing later. Again, it will show all of your saved places on the map so you can easily compare location and price.
3. Expensify and Rate Watch – the budget apps
Expensify allows you to track and record your every purchase with the snap of a picture. It’s easy – you just photograph your receipts. This is especially great for business travel when the boss is footing the bills. It’s also great for tax purposes later. The app automatically records your expenses and generates a report so you can remain conscious of your spending. In the age of digital money, it’s easy to lose track of how much you spend. So, this app is great for keeping your swiping in check.
For all your conversion needs however, there’s nothing better than our very own mobile friendly Rate Watch! Just bookmark the webpage before you go and any time you need to find the most up to date conversion, it’ll be there. With every currency you could need available for comparison, this is one program you can’t do without.
4. Duolingo and Google Translate – the language apps
Duolingo is great for long-term planned trips. If you have a lot of time before your trip, Duolingo will help you become semi-fluent (or fluent, depending how much time and dedication you have) in the common language of the country you’re visiting. It’s an interactive learning app that actually makes learning a new language fun. It switches between auditory tests, written tests and fill-in-the-blanks style questions. If for example, you already speak French but need to brush up before your trip to Paris, the app has a fluency test you can take so you can study at the appropriate level.
Google Translate is a definite must-have when going to a country that speaks a language you have no familiarity with. The app allows you to live translate. Just open your camera and point it at a street sign or menu. You can also highlight what you want translated. It’s not perfect, but it’s accurate enough to help you get by. This is a must have tool that will save you, especially while navigating and ordering food.
5. WhatsApp, Messages, Facebook Messenger – the communication apps
For safety and social reasons, you’ll definitely want a way to communicate with your friends and family back home. WhatsApp, Messages, and Facebook Messenger have similar features (calling, messaging, picture and video messaging, and video call), and they all get the job done with Wi-Fi. However, not everyone has these apps. Pick whichever one fits best with your friends and family. For example, if everyone you know has an iPhone, Messages will work great. If everyone you know has Facebook, you might prefer Messenger. However, WhatsApp has become increasingly popular for international travelers without iPhones or Facebook.
Travel Note #2: BEEN is a really cool app that allows you to track your travels on a map so you can easily know how many countries you’ve been to and what percentage of the world you’ve visited. It’s a pretty basic app that colours in the countries you’ve visited for easy reference. Plan your next trip or just show off your globetrotting adventures!
Travel Note #3: Since Netflix added the download feature, I never travel without it. Download shows or movies on your phone or tablet to avoid paying for Wi-Fi on the plane or limiting yourself to the in-flight entertainment options.
Travel Note #4: Travelocity is a great app and site to book cheap flights. It allows users to easily compare prices and times. However, since booking the flight is one of the first steps to travelling, you may not need the app after you’ve already got your tickets.
Written by Megan Cary
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