21 Sep 12 of Our Favorite Apps for Better Travel
Daily Use Travel Apps:
These apps are super useful for daily life, even if you’re not traveling. Here’s how we’ve used them on our trips:
The purpose of Gas Buddy is to help you find the cheapest gas prices in your vicinity. Whenever we’re on a road trip, I use the map setting of the app to look ahead on our route and plot our gas refills based on the lowest prices.
2 Notes: You can earn points toward contest entries for free gas by reporting gas prices that you see on the road (this crowdsourcing strategy how they keep their gas prices up to date on the app).
Although there is a way to differentiate between credit and cash prices on the app, I’ve found that some stations in our area that only accept cash or debit (not credit) are not indicated as such.
Probably a lot of folks are familiar with this app for getting directions. Being able to see heavy traffic and the location of accidents in real time is useful. The option to get directions for public transit, walking, or biking is also handy – and usually works in other countries as well.
Pro tip: Because we have T-mobile global coverage (see more about the benefits here), we’re able to refer to our location on the map when traveling by train or public transit where we don’t speak the language, and it helps us make sure we’re getting off at the correct stop.
We like to use Yelp’s “search nearby” feature with filters for price and “open now” to find the best local eateries. Or if we see someplace interesting, we like to verify that it has good reviews. Although not in every country, it is active in many places outside the US.
We use this To Do List app for a lot of different things. When it comes to travel, it can be a simple, handy way to create your packing or grocery list and then check off items as you secure them. It can sync between multiple phones and computers so you can have one, live list updated in real time. (See our full review of Wunderlist here.)
Some folks use this just like any other text messaging app on their phones. The reason it’s great for travel is that there are no international text messaging charges, including if you send pictures, video, or audio files. The catch is, it only works on wifi. We’ve found that more and more Airbnb hosts are now using WhatsApp as an economical way to communicate last minute with guests who are visiting from abroad.
The following apps are specifically designed for travelers and will likely only be useful to you when you’re out on the road.
This budget and expense tracking app was designed by fellow digital nomads who are constantly traveling internationally. It allows for spending in multiple currencies while showing your overall budget in your home currency. You can set a budget for the entire trip or per-day spending; and choose your own spending categories like accommodations, transport, and meals out. We use it on every international trip.
Cost: Free trial. $3.99 for unlimited use.
Download Trail Wallet from iTunes
This hit language-learning app is a game-ified way to practice your language skills, especially if you’re heading to Europe. Languages include French, Spanish, German, Italian and even Danish or Norwegian (currently no Asian, Africa, or Middle-Eastern languages are available).
Note: We’re a divided household when it comes to this app. Jedd enjoys it more and was motivated by the gaming style, while Michelle didn’t find it methodical enough.
Even if you don’t have an international data plan on your smart phone, your phone’s built-in GPS will still work free of charge. This means that if you download maps before you travel, your phone will be able to show you where you are (although you won’t be able to use turn-by-turn directions). This can be really helpful in new places. In Europe, we used CityMaps for places like London, Bruges, and Brussels which has the added benefit of labeling some of the local attractions. If you download the corresponding Wikipedia file beforehand, you can also read more in depth about the different monuments and buildings you’re seeing with a simple touch on the map.
This app features travel photos by location. You can search for interesting sights near your current location or a destination you’re headed to later on. It’s great if you’re unfamiliar with an area and want to make sure you’re not missing out on something amazing. Upload your own travel pics with a brief description and geo-tag them so that other travelers can discover the spots you recommend. See our full review of Trover in this blog post.
This app essentially plots where you go on a map and allows you to upload pictures and trip information at each waypoint. Document whichever points of interest you choose by snapping a picture and then typing in a comment or description. There’s a place to indicate the weather, record the GPS location, and adjust the time and date. If you don’t have cell data, you can “Save offline” and submit your saved waypoints later on when you’re back in a wifi area. Give the link to you map to friends and family so they can follow along as you go. See how we used TrackMyTour on our latest Europe trip.
Cost: Free for 2 maps. $4.99 for additional maps and features.
Download TrackMyTour from iTunes
This app keeps your travel itinerary and any bookings (accommodations, transport, tours, etc.) When you get an e-mail confirmation for your flight reservation, for example, you can forward it to your personal TripIt e-mail and the info will be automatically added to your itinerary.
Note: Since we often stay with friends and don’t do many tours, we don’t often have use for this. But it’s been great for our clients who have more bookings to keep track of.
If you’re not already familiar with geocaching – the global “treasure hunt” you can access with a smart phone, then check out our post Geocaching: How to Discover Even More on Your Travels. It’s great for finding fun, new places you wouldn’t otherwise know about.
Note: Although the GPS on your smartphone will work anywhere, you do need data for this app. So you’ll need an international plan to access this abroad.
What are your favorite travel apps? We’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below.
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