Being a combination of geek & travel lover means I always feel the need to carry gadgets and apps with me wherever I go. After all, what kind of a geek would I be if I didn’t stroll through the security gates at the airport using my iPhone as a boarding pass, or summon a cab using a watch?
That’s why in this post I wanted to run through some of the apps I keep on my phone for travel.
With so many of us reliant on our phones to carry our important information and documents, it’s no surprise that Apple Wallet doubles as my payment option and boarding pass. In fact, based on a study by CartridgeSave.co.uk 81% of people in their survey were happy to use eTickets as opposed to physical ones.
With the convenience of having your payments and passes in one place — meaning no need to carry paperwork or cash — why wouldn’t you use an app like this?
Note: Android users can use Google Wallet for payments and third party apps for boarding passes.
Google Maps is the de facto option for navigation on most people’s devices, regardless of how you’re getting around. Whether it’s by foot or car, Google Maps pretty much always works accurately and performs reliably — so if you’re in another country it’s a must-have on your phone.
The lesser known Waze is a big favourite of mine — at least when it’s not sucking every percent of battery from my phone! Using Google Maps’ backend, Waze takes a more social approach to navigation; users can alert other drivers about accidents, police stops, road blocks and more in real time to help you reach your destination quicker. So if you’re intending on driving around a busy/congested city and want to avoid the traffic, download Waze.
Oh Uber, you problematic company, you. Although taxi drivers all around the world hate the company for stealing their business, Uber makes it incredibly easy, time efficient and (often) more affordable than using a traditional cab.
The process is basically: you open the app, select the type of Uber you want (from cheaper cars like Toyota Prius to higher end like Mercedes E Class) and request for a driver to pick you up at a location. It’s safe because you’ll see the name and photo of your driver, their license plate and car model, and once they drop you the payment is automatically taken from the card or PayPal account you signed up with. Cool right? I frequently visit Lisbon in Portugal, and if renting a car doesn’t make sense I’ll just use Uber the whole time because it’s so cheap there.
Get a free ride: if you sign up using this link, you’ll get €5 off your first ride (the discount may be less/more depending on your city).
While Google Maps is very accurate, CityMapper is a must-have if you’re roaming busy cities using public transport. With a lovely, easy to use interface the app makes it simple to get around using all methods of public transport — including services like Uber and Hailo. Tap on an icon like “Bus” on the homescreen for example and CityMapper will pull up the timetable for each stop around you. It’s very useful.
Wherever I go, I like to make a conscious effort to speak the native language. It’s not only polite but respectful too; you’re in their homeland so at least make some effort to communicate in their tongue.
Google Translate makes this process so much easier. Let’s say you’re in a restaurant and have no idea what the menu says. Open the Google Translate app, tap on the camera icon and hold up your phone to the menu to have it translate right in front of you. You can dictate to the app with your voice or just type in words, and the best part is that it’ll store your previously searched words/phrases. You can even favourite the ones you’ll need in the long run.
Whether it’s a short city break or long-term stay, DuoLingo could turn into your private little language tutor. This clever, easy to use (and free!) app teaches you a new language by running you through the basics until you’re ready to step it up a notch. I’ve used it to refresh my French as well as learn some basics in Spanish and Italian.
“Mi hermana es una manzana” — my sister is an Apple. See? I’m basically a pro in Spanish already.
This is hands-down my favourite travel app. SkyScanner searches all airlines, car hire companies and hotels to find the cheapest rates for you, and if you get creative you can bag some seriously good deals. I managed to find a £10 return ticket to Copenhagen, Denmark using SkyScanner, and recently found weekly car hire for as little as £18. It’s insane.
Pro tip: use the ‘Explore Top Deals’ feature to find random flights at random times. You’ll be surprised at how cheaply you can travel for…
TripAdvisor needs no introduction. Whether it’s to find out whether that restaurant is any good or you want to leave a review of your own experience, TripAdvisor is the app you need. I’d wholeheartedly recommend downloading it; it could be the difference between you having a great experience or feeling disappointed afterwards.
F-Secure Freedome VPN
Although they’re a previous sponsor here on Let’s Talk Tech, I’ve included F-Secure’s Freedome VPN here on my own. I regularly use this app whenever I go away because it protects my data when I’m using public WiFi networks. If I’m feeling a bit naughty, I even change my ‘virtual location’ so that I can access TV channels that would otherwise be blocked.
If you’ll be using public WiFi networks or want to access blocked content from abroad, a VPN app like this will be very helpful!
What apps do you rely on?
What are your 3 main go-to apps when you’re away? Let me know in the comments.