When I left for Europe, the only travel app I had was Appy Hour – the app that tells you where and when the best happy hour deals are on in Reykjavik. By the time I got home, I had a whole pile of travel apps given to me by other travellers – apps I’m not sure how I lived without.
Whether you’re travelling alone, with friends, family, or your significant other, here’s a bunch of stuff you’re going to need. The best part? They’re all free.
An offline map that allows you to download individual cities and provinces (so it doesn’t use up all your memory) as you travel. The app allows you to pinpoint and save as many landmarks as you want, and comes with address and landmark search functionality, walking and driving routes, and the times it takes to get from A to B via your preferred mode of transport. You do have to connect to the internet to download the maps in the first place, but once you’ve done that you’re good to disconnect and go.
For someone as navigationally-challenged as myself, this app was a total game-changer. On my trip from Italy to Estonia on public transport, I went in and out of countries regularly, so I didn’t have access to the internet a lot of the time and couldn’t use Google Maps to navigate from the bus or train to my hostel. Maps.Me mapped out my route from the station, and got me to where I needed to be every time.
A girl told me about Maps.Me at the beginning of my trip in Iceland, and honestly, I’m not sure I would have coped roaming around Bulgaria and Romania for the next month if it weren’t for that – I don’t know where that girl is, but I want to thank her.
This is one of my favourite travel apps, and it’s so much more than staying at someone’s house for free – it’s a social portal in to a world of things you’re interested in. Download the app, go to the dashboard, click ‘hangout now’, and type in what you’re interested in doing (having a beer; going hiking; having a coffee; exploring the area; ect), and you’ll be linked to people in your area who are interested in doing exactly what you’re doing.
If you’re in a new city or town and you want to talk to someone, this is a really great resource. The thing I love about Couchsurfing is that it’s not only tourists who use it – locals often use the hangout feature so they can meet travellers and introduce them to the area, which gives you invaluable insight in to the place you’re in. I can’t recommend this app enough.
Meetup aims to connect likeminded people, and functions in many parts of the world. If you’re in to gaming, fermenting, hiking, drinking, calligraphy, yoga, talking about your beard, or swapping clothes, there’s probably a meetup for it somewhere near you, and if there’s not, you can start one!
If you’re travelling to a big city and you want to meet a bunch of people, Meetup is a really great app to use. Even if you don’t speak the local language, there are often English meetups you can join, and sometimes there are travelling groups who arrange meetups all over the world – wherever you are, it’s worth checking out.
Carpooling, on steroids. BlaBlaCar connects drivers with passengers based on where they’re heading. For example, if you need to get from London to Manchester on a certain day, you’d punch that in to BlaBlaCar and see a list of people who are driving from London to Manchester, how many seats they have in the car, and how much they want you to contribute for gas.
BlaBlaCar appeals to me because it operates on reviews, so you know who you’re riding with, and nothing sketchy takes place. It doesn’t operate all over the world yet (hopefully Canada, Australia, and the U.S get it at some point), but if you’re travelling to Europe, I highly recommend it! Someone I know got a ride through Transylvania for two-euros, rather than paying 10 for the train.
Choose your currency, pick the currency you want to convert it to, and convert away! XE operates in real time, so you don’t have to update the app to get the current exchange rates – it just knows. I know I have it in all my guides, and swear I’m not associated with them in any way, it’s just a really good currency converter.
There are a range of translation travel apps, but this one isn’t just for English-speakers – iTranslate lets you translate between a wide range of languages, either by typing it in to the keyboard, or speaking in to the microphone.
I know Google Translate is a bit of a go-to resource, but it often gets things very wrong. There are always going to be some mishaps with translate apps because of phrasing differences, and in some languages there are words that don’t exist in others, but I find iTranslate to be accurate enough. It’s also really easy to use, and helped me explain things to people all over Europe, from Lithuanian, to Italian and Romanian.
This app probably goes without saying – if you’re reading this, you probably it, but I couldn’t leave it out, it’s really useful! This works like any flight search engine: type in where you are, where you’re going, when you want to leave, and whether you want to return, and get a list of flights ranging from cheap to expensive. You can also pick your month of travel, rather than a specific date, and see what day has the cheapest flights.
I like Skyscanner because it finds an enormous range of flights at seriously cheap prices – prices you might not be able to find anywhere else. The only other great flight resource I can think of is Secret Flying, and they don’t have deals to everywhere all the time, so in most cases, Skyscanner is a great option.
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These are my favourites to date, but I’m always on the hunt for more. What are your favourite travel apps?