Our Top Nine Go-To Apps We Rely on While Traveling.
In the olden days, a beard was a sign of wisdom, not style; a wayfarer was a person who traveled on foot, not the classiest sunglasses on the planet (imho); and travel essentials were good walking shoes, a reliable map, and a trusty guidebook.
Our needs haven’t really changed in the last few decades, but our tools definitely have. In fact I do confess, I’m always surprised to see paper maps. Surely they’re almost extinct by now. But I digress. These days, we travel with so much more, but it’s all accessible at the tap of a thumb or two. Here are some apps that we find imperative for travel.
<1. Google Translate - When you’re going to a country where they speak a different language from you, communication becomes… chotto taihen (Japanese for “a bit difficult”). We think it’s just good manners to put forth a bit of effort by learning a few phrases. That being said, we can guarantee you’ll need to say something really complicated and have no idea where to start. “Is this snake venomous?” probably isn’t something that ended up on your Spanish class flashcards. Enter Google Translate. It translates your words into hundreds of languages quickly and it’s free. Download Google Translate via Google Play or the Apple Store.
>2. Google Maps - Whether you’re heading to a new restaurant in a city an hour away or on a cross country road trip, Google maps is most likely your navigation weapon of choice and with great reason. But what about when you’re out of the country and you have no cell service? You want to find the way to a hiking trail while you’re in, let’s say Croatia, but you don’t want to pay the roaming fees. Tap into the Google maps’ “offline maps” feature. Before your trip, select the area you’ll be traveling in and around and download the map for access with or without service or wifi. You won’t have access to all the features that online Google maps have, but it’ll certainly get you from point A to point B. Download Google Maps via Google Play or the Apple Store.
3. Copilot - This was a life-saver in Ireland. It’s a navigation app using offline maps. We used this before we learned about offline Google maps, but it has great features including several route options for each destination (Google Maps doesn’t have this). The only downside is the expense, but you can try it for free before forking over the dough. Prices vary based on which maps you want to download, so choose carefully! Download Copilot via Google Play or the Apple Store.
<4. Airbnb - Sure there are other ways to find accommodations, but Airbnb has really taken over. It’s a great resource for someone who doesn’t mind if the towels aren’t changed every day and there’s no mint on the pillow every afternoon. Choose how much space you need, where you want to be located, and stipulate your budget. Now, narrow down your choices based on views, decor, or host personality! It’s also a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture. Some might even plan a trip based on an Airbnb they’re dying to stay in. Some are THAT nice. Download Airbnb via Google Play or the Apple Store.
5. Kayak - When we travel, we are conscious of every penny spent. That’s why we look out for the cheapest airfare. Alex uses a couple of websites (she prefers computer research rather than app probing) to find the best of the best, but Kayak is always in the mix. The Kayak app allows you to save deals and organize your trips. It’s also good for car rentals and hotels. Other good apps are Hopper and airfarewatchdog. Download Kayak via Google Play or the Apple Store.
>6. Pinterest - Pinterest is my best friend between trips. I use it to pinpoint where I want to go in our next destination. It keeps my chaotic plans organized and at my fingertips. My only wish is that you could access some boards even when you’re offline….any Pinterest developers listening? I’ll be your best friend! Download Pinterest via Google Play or the Apple Store.
7. Photos - Ok it’s an app that comes pre-downloaded on all iPhones, but it’s really useful for more than just perusing your pics. If you want to share your memories, but aren’t the best video editor, make a movie with the memories feature! Here's how you use it. If you don’t have an iPhone, try Quik (download via Google Play or Apple Store ). No need to download.
<8. Spotify - What is travel without a playlist? Whether you’re alone on a train or in a car with your friends, you need music. I like to think of it as a soundtrack for my adventures or at least an ambience booster. Spotify is perfect because with the Premium membership ($9.99/month, $14.99/month for up to six users at the same address, or $4.99/month for students) even if you’ll be abroad or miles from good reception, you can pre-download a playlist to have accessible anywhere. Just build a playlist and then tap the switch next to “Download”. It’s really that easy. The premium membership also allows you to select whatever song you want to listen to. Otherwise, the free membership permits you to shuffle an artist or playlist, but not offline. Download Spotify via Google Play or the Apple Store.
9. Currency - When you’re traveling, you want to set a budget, but you’re likely going to set that budget in your currency - pounds, dollars, euros, krona, etc. They’re not all worth the same so check the exchange rate before you swipe your credit card! Avoid accidents like a bank statement that’s double what you expected. Download Currency via Google Play or the Apple Store.
Our travel toolbox is ever-growing, but these are always at our fingertips. What apps do you use when you are traveling? We love tips.