A few years ago, when my sisters and I decided to take on Europe, traveling with a plan meant an entire folder full of destinations, printed out street maps, and phone numbers to contact. Later on, I ditched all of that and decided planning only required knowing where I was going and where was I sleeping. However, that proved even more stressful and worrying. So I found the right balance with my phone. I can still have the planning but also with less worry and less paperwork to tote around.
Without further ado, here are my top 10 mobile apps for the savvy traveler!
As a fan of this site, I love the accompanying app to search for flights. You can sort through flight times and schedules with filters from price, duration, arrival or departure times, and even, yes, agony. Visually, it’s easier to understand when and what you’re booking. Not to mention the helpful, adorable Chipmunk mascot. It also lets you search hotels and book rooms.
This app is really interesting because of the whole “augmented reality” aspect. This just means that if you hold up your camera phone to assess the area around you, little speech bubbles pop up with information. You’ll get information on the sites around you, a search for restaurants nearby, or which direction a place of interest might be. It’s also handy for just finding local events, like concerts or plays, happening near you.
Feel like a doughnut or just need a place to sit and read? The Yelp app makes finding whatever your heart desires simple. You can search certain foods or activities and get locations nearby that serve those needs. Read reviews for cafés or restaurants, get an idea of pricing, and receive directions. Personally, I use this app to find new bakeries nearby, and I look at the reviews for new baked good suggestions.
4: Trip Splitter
I know that when I travel with friends, it’s sometimes just easier to have one person handle the restaurant bill or ticket purchase. This app makes it easy to the savvy traveler keep track with divvying up the costs, so by the end of the trip it’s all even and fair.
I used this app when I first moved to a new city and found it super helpful in exploring. For those regions with excellent public transport, from other U.S. cities and a spectrum of countries, HopStop should be your go-to. Just pop your start and end locations (using an address or just the name of the place) and HopStop gives you travel routes with travel times. It’ll show you the nearest station, and bonus points: it accounts for maintenance or train issues.
6: Globe Tipping
From restaurants, the porter, or the cab driver, this handy app shows the right percentage to tip for each in certain countries. The simple calculator shows the amount of tip along with the total. Plus, it’s super easy to use when dividing a check with a group. There’s a complete list of the countries it provides information for, and it’ll sneak in a few pieces of advice on etiquette.
It’s really easy to lose track of your finances, especially with converting currencies and keeping up with ATM rates. Oanda is a free app that has the rates for 190 currencies. You change the percentage rate and get a close conversion of whatever currency to the dollar.
When you book for a hotel, flight, or tour online, your inbox just gets buried with confirmation mails. Try forwarding your plans to your account with TripIt. It creates a master itinerary with all of your confirmations. You can share it with the rest of the group or sync it with your calendar. Bonus: the app gives you directions and provides a map for locations.
9: Free Wi-Fi Finder by JiWire
This is exactly what it says it is. While you may be exploring a new country to get away from work e-mails, you might still want Wi-Fi to connect with those back home or to even blog about your experience. This is a free app that lists over 320,000 public locations with wi-fi (either paid or free) in over 140 countries. You can save your favorites to access offline too.
This is a great app to document everything for your trip, from passports to tickets. Not only is it great for travel writing, but it’s a good app to keep all of the addresses or basic information you’d get from guide books or suggestions from friends. Plus, you can map out where you’ve been, take photos, and save receipts.
So, savvy traveler friends: what apps have you found most helpful abroad? Please share in the comments!
By Georgette Eva