Posted by Oliver Meredew on July 13th, 2016.
The smartphone generation will tell you that any phone capable of mobile internet access is essentially a Swiss army knife for modern times. Whilst there are several applications designed to simply waste time, there are many used to save it. It is now possible, and often easier, to book your whole travel experience from a phone; so if you’re planning a trip overseas here are some top apps to try…
Over the past several years travel agents on the high street have been thinning out, with fewer people relying on agent staff to book their vacation. The emergence of websites like Expedia which combine flights, accommodation and extras into one simple service have revolutionised travel. Cutting out the middle man has also made bespoke holidays more affordable.
In just a few short years, however, visiting these websites has become less popular as using apps to manage everything has become the norm. Expedia’s app is essentially the same thing as their website, but it simplifies the process and tailors it to the mobile user.
Whilst most airlines have their own apps, using them to book flights is not always beneficial. If you are looking for the cheapest flight, for example, you would need to download hundreds of apps to work out which airline offered the best deal.
Fortunately, Skyscanner has the solution to this problem. It’s a simple to use free app that quickly scans all available flights for your chosen times and destination and offers up prices. Through Skyscanner you can book and pay for the flights you want and even combine multiple flights.
Skyscanner is available for both iPhone and Android users.
Whilst there are an abundance of apps for finding hotels, Airbnb takes a different approach. It is a massive database of user-provided accommodation. Instead of paying premium prices to stay in hotels, you can stay in people’s homes. Some offer complete access to a house, others offer a room or shared accommodation. It can be a very cheap way to stay with a large group, especially if you want to find a location close to all the tourist hotspots.
Airbnb is a free to use app available for iPhone or Android.
Whilst hotel booking apps are 10 a penny, Stayful provides a unique way of narrowing searches. If you input your budget and the style of accommodation you’re looking for the app will find available rooms and suggest a reasonable price. If you agree with the suggestion, the app will negotiate with the hotel on your behalf, often haggling for a much better deal than you would get by booking directly.
The app is free but only available on the iPhone (IOS).
Now that you have booked flights and accommodation you will want to be prepared for every eventuality in order to make the most of your hard-earned holiday. Here are a few handy apps to make sure you’re not travelling blind.
Yes, most smartphones have a built in weather application. However, they are generally not the most accurate nor the most detailed. Fear not, WeatherPro is a neat app that covers weather forecasts for well over two million geographical locations. User reviews show how consistently accurate the application is, so if it says you will have a few days of rain it would be advisable to pack your raincoat.
The application is available on IOS and Android but will cost $2.99.
Rome to Rio is a hugely important application for those wishing to explore as much as they can when travelling. You can enter any two destinations and the app will calculate the best routes and all the methods of travel between the locations you picked. It even gives accurate averages of the time it would take to make the journey using all of the different methods of travel. No more trying to decipher Japanese bus routes, this handy app will tell you exactly which bus to catch. You can even link straight to booking options so you can plan your travel ahead of time.
The application is available across all platforms and is free to use.
This handy application is a massive database of emergency services numbers for nearly every country in the world. Whilst the app is free there is a Pro version (UK only) that has embassy details and the potential to pin emergency services numbers to your phone’s desktop for one-touch access.
The app is free to use for Android and the Pro version will cost £0.99. For those with IOS there are similar apps like ‘Emergency Phone Numbers’.
So now you have made it to your destination, what can you do?
One of the most frequent complaints when using smartphones abroad is the amount providers charge for data roaming. Even using a map can end up costing you significantly when your bill arrives.
Fear not, Onavo Extend is a really useful app that reduces the amount of data you use for simple tasks. So now you can post on Facebook without paying through the roof and use apps freely in the knowledge you won’t be slapped with a monster monthly bill.
Onavo Extend is a free application available on both IOS and Android.
The problem with many websites and online reviews is it is difficult to discern whether it is a truthful account or clever advertising. TripAdvisor negates this problem by offering user generated reviews that cannot be censored by the reviewee. If 9/10 people tell you to avoid a restaurant, you would be best advised to go somewhere with a high percentage of happy customers. This is especially handy for a foreign restaurant where standards may not be in keeping with what you’re accustomed to.
TripAdvisor is free to use across all platforms.
There are hundreds of city guide apps, but Musement trumps the lot. Most apps find a bizarre array of ‘attractions’ that will usually be ignored. Musement allows you to select a city and browse a range of popular local venues and events, with an emphasis on fine dining and museums. For those looking for the cultured experience, look no further.
Musement is available for free on both Android and IOS.
Whilst there are hundreds of translation apps available, Google has a way of cornering markets. This is usually because they provide the best services. Google Translate is no different. Although free to use, Google Translate is one of the most accurate translators.
Google Translate is available for free across all platforms.
Even if you are using an app to reduce the amount of data used for everyday tasks (see Ovano Extend above) using your phone to message others in a different country can be pricey.
WhatsApp is a cross-platform messaging system that is fast becoming the popular replacement for text messaging. It is free to message anyone in the world, especially handy if you find a wifi access point and need to tell your closest chums about your adventure.
WhatsApp is free to download and is available across all platforms.
Smartphones are quickly becoming the camera of choice for the keen traveller thanks to ease of use and convenience. If you’re keen to arrange your holiday snaps into a narrative this is the app for you. You can select photos to sequence, select music to accompany the slideshow and upload the finished product to social media.
The app is free to download and works on both IOS and Android devices.
The apps listed above are just a drop in the ocean. For the keen traveller it would be wise to explore application stores yourself, read user reviews and trial free versions. Chances are, whatever you need, there’s an app for it.
Happy smart travelling.
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