Our smartphones are arguably the cleverest thing we pack on a trip. They’re an all-in-one translator, tip calculator, travel agent, food guide, bank, camera, map…well, we’re preaching to the choir here because you all know the power in your pockets. But like a sleek carry-on bag, there’s no point filling your phone with useless apps you’ll never use. Here are the best travel apps to download that will see you from the start to the end of your trip.
P.S. We haven’t included apps like Airbnb, Tinder or Uber, because you don’t need us telling you how valuable they are for finding tree houses, friends and a way home at three in the morning…
For booking the flights… Cheapflights App
*Shameless plug alert* Trawling thousands of travel sites to find a cheap flight is enough to drive you round the bend. Enter the Cheapflights app, which does exactly what it says on the tin – it helps you find cheap flights around the world. And it does it simply. Enter where you want to go, the dates you want to leave and you can search hundreds of flights from airlines and travel companies all over the world, and then easily compare them to find the cheapest ones and book from the app. You’ll no longer have to mutter, “I need a vacation from booking this vacation.”
For planning what to do… Guides by Lonely Planet
Sometimes the lowest hanging fruit tastes the sweetest. Obviously, the largest printed travel guide seller in the world should have a great travel app, but so often what should be good and what is good are two very different things. Thankfully, Lonely Planet has done an excellent job of transitioning from paper to digital with their Guides app. Their comprehensive guides are a great way to get an overview of a city, with all the vigour and depth that you’d find in their books. The whole experience is just slick. Plus they have a phrase book, offline maps and a currency converter.
For packing like a pro… PackPoint
A lifesaver for those of us who struggle to know what to cram into our tiny cheap airline approved carry-on duffel bag. Or for those that insist on taking a hardback copy of Shantaram, and only have room left for the essentials. With PackPoint, you just enter your destination, date of travel and length of stay, along with some activities you’re likely to be participating in, and it’ll generate a bespoke list of stuff you should pack.
For getting around… Citymapper
How did people live without Citymapper? This handy app is now available for over 30 cities across the world and is the easiest app for navigating across large cities. No longer will you have to stare blankly at complicated tube maps or chance your luck at jumping on the first random bus you see. Citymapper shows you how to get from A to B hassle-free. It lets you easily see the cheapest and most convenient routes (a bit like Cheapflights, who filter flights by price and flight time). It’ll also update you on delays, allow you to choose between bus, rail and pedestrian routes, has offline maps and Uber connectivity – result.
For keeping connected… Wiffinity
There’s nothing worse than getting to a foreign city having forgotten to download a map and needing WiFi so you can get directions to find your hostel. You end up wandering around like a crazy person constantly hitting refresh trying to find an ounce of that sweet, sweet data access. Wiffinity is a free app that helps you locate free WiFi hot-spots all around the world – without needing to be connected to the internet. It has so many helpful uses – from checking restaurants on the fly, to avoiding horrid international roaming fees, to being able to order an Uber when you’re stuck in a dodgy neighbourhood.
For documenting the adventure… PolarSteps
In this crazy millennial world that we live in, documenting and sharing your journey is more important than ever. We’ve all got our favourite Instagram filter and Twitter hashtags but it does start to get a little impersonal… Enter PolarSteps. This innovative new app tracks your route (ideal for backpackers and roadtrippers) and allows friends and family to follow your route by populating a travel log out of your photographs. Plus, at the end of it all, you can turn it into travel book of your photos, stats and routes to have as a keepsake.
For the post-holiday admin… Splittr
Splittr is perfect for those travellers who would rather shampoo with hot sauce than tackle an Excel spreadsheet to work out who paid for what. You can add expenses as you go, punching in who paid for what, and the app divides it all up at the end. It even emails you and your friends a PDF report with how much they owe, so you don’t have to ruin your post-holiday positivity by acting like a debt collector.
- Got the apps? Now get the travel entertainment. Check out our post on 6 podcasts to listen to on your next flight