I hate to admit it, but more times than not I would truly be lost without my smartphone. It’s terrible, I know. Apps give us a helping hand in what otherwise would be a tricky situation (although I must say I definitely take the piss with the calculator) some of which come in especially handy when doing something already stressful, like travelling. What’s commonly known as a Lifehack or Travelhack, some Apps have the power to organise our whole suitcase, itinerary, and even teach us the language so we’re ready to order our vino on arrival without those embarrassing, defensive ‘Sorry I’m British!’ moments.
Throughout our travels, my poxy 16gb iPhone was drowning in a sea of food snaps and unnecessary applications. I’d be stood in a temple awaiting being blessed by a Thai monk and be scrabbling around with my phone trying to free up space to save the moment. So you know what we say!? No more!
What kind of human would I be if I left Skyscanner of the list!? Thibault and I swear by Skyscanner, and it always gives us the cheapest option of flights in a matter of seconds. What’s great about this app is the option to choose to fly ‘Everywhere’ – which will give you a rundown of the cheapest flights from your current destination. A good tip would be to run Skyscanner in ‘Incognito Mode’ (hidden mode) as you can sometimes strike lucky and get cheaper deals by concealing where you are booking from. I’d also note that in some countries, their ‘cheap-as-chips, might-not-have-lifejackets’ aeroplane carriers are not featured on Skyscanner, and you should check their websites independently – unless it’s the Chinese airline ‘Spring Airlines’, then just don’t bother.
Granted Hostelworld, Hostelbookers and Booking.com are bloody fantastic – but Airbnb takes travelling to another level. It’s single-handedly revolutionised the travel industry. Why would we want to sleep in a boring bedroom when we could sleep in a candlelit Yurt in the middle of the Portuguese mountains!? For those living under a rock (which I’d put money on is also an option) the concept of Airbnb is absolutely brilliant. The founders wanted to encourage travellers and businessmen alike to stay with local hosts who open their homes to the public, which makes your average run of the mill hotel look overpriced and lacklustre. The best part is that they have integrated a map system to visually choose which area you want to stay, and beyond that even be able to search scrutinously for amenities like hot tubs and saunas – errr, yes please!
This one’s a given. TripAdvisor is respected world-wide (although taken a hit in recent years following quite a few hush-hush lawsuits) and is used for everything from hotel reviews to activity suggestions in the local area. Travelling the world, we found that some countries tend to push for these online appraisals more than others – for example we didn’t consult TripAdvisor in Burma once but use it here in Lagos habitually. As a rule of thumb, I’d say to take reviews with a pinch of salt, and you’ll often have to sift through the usual crap non-experienced travellers write, such as complaints about ‘not being allowed to flush toilet paper whilst holidaying in South-East Asia’ and moans about the ‘lack of electricity’ on distant, faraway islands.
#4. XE Currency
For all those that know me, I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND EXCHANGE RATES. Whatever. If that makes me dumb, I don’t particularly care. Thank to XE I can sneakily check the current rates from my pocket without having to confess my idiocy on the matter, and pretend like I know what I’m on about. It’s also pretty handy when trying to figure out if you’ve just been ripped off on those 30€ set of 5 postcards from the innocent-puppy dog-eyed kid selling sob stories outside the temple gates.
Its as easy as it sounds. Put in what you want to say and in what language, and taadaa. Even better, pay a small amount to upgrade and the friendly robot lady will speak for you too!
Where do I sign!?
#6. GoJek & Uber
GoJek is kinda the ghetto, motorbike version of Uber, but super fun. At this point I believe it’s only used in Indonesia – but here’s hoping it will spread worldwide. You’re told how far away they are from the pickup point, their number plate, the drivers name, their driver rating (1 for ‘utter disgusting creep’, 10 for ‘had a spare puppy helmet’) and how much the whole journey will cost (which again, similar to Uber, is prepaid from your device.) For all those darker days when you wake up with a slight flashback of dancing on the bar wearing nothing but a flamingo rubber-ring, they’ll even deliver your groceries and take-away food. Uber works the same all over the world, and for anyone that’s never used it its really quite simple. Choose your destination & luxury level, and you’re off!
#7. Bla Bla Car
Bla Bla Car is easy ride-sharing. What started as a solo European app, it is now making city-to-city travel all over the world more affordable and comfortable, even at the very last minute. You’ll get to see how many seats are available in the car, whether it’s suitable for luggage, and other information such as whether pets and smoking is allowed and who will be trip-DJ (joking, but how cool would that be!?) We’ve saved tons on using Bla Bla Car instead of public transport or private taxis, and you can usually work out with the driver to drop you exactly where you want! Win-win!
So this is a new one for me and Thibault, but since downloading it we wished so much we knew about it when we were travelling with our best friends Hannah and Najib a few years ago! Splitwise helps you manage all of your IOU’s with a more than simple record, and lets you pay back your debts via PayPal! Ahhh!! What’s more, you can invite your friends to the app so that you can all input your travelling debts in one, easy to use group. Not really for one-offs such as after dinner drinks with a friend, but more so for when constantly sharing and divvying amounts between friends or your partner on the road!
Another newbie for Thibault and I, but we’re quickly seeing what a powerful tool it can be if used correctly. Pop in where and when your going, how long for, and what type of trip it is, and baddaboom. It works with Google to pull all of the travel details you’d like to know about your destination – just tell them what kind of activities your interested in for the trip (camping, working online, dining out etc) and your given a comprehensive, weather-sensitive packing list! Take my money!
Aaaaannnd the rest:
A few others that aren’t necessarily travel related but always seem to come in handy, are TED talks for all those boring trains rides from Beijing to Shanghai, and Snapseed for making sure all of your photos look on fleek before sharing them with the world. Paypal comes in super handy for booking things online when your travelling, as does Whatsapp and Skype for days when you just need some TLC from back home.
Have we missed any of your life-saving travel apps? Comment below and share the app-love!