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Must have apps for travelling

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Best (Free) Travel Apps

A smartphone is your most useful item when travelling these days. Here is a selection of free apps that we’ve found particularly useful, after living on the road for the past three years.

Must have travel apps

Currency

This app is a must. Its clean, easy-to-use interface helps you convert currency accurately and with ease. Simply type in the amount in your currency, hit enter and it will give you up-to-date exchange rates for whatever currency you select. With over 150 currencies to choose from, you’ve got the world covered.

We found the currency converter app particularly useful in South East Asia bartering at markets. Little tip : if you are not on a data plan, just be sure to update the app when connected to wifi every few days to get the most accurate exchange rate.

Airline apps

Almost all airlines have apps. We recommend downloading the app for the airline you are flying with. It will give you up-to-date information on departure times, delays and the airport. It even lets you download your boarding pass to your mobile device.

hotels.com & airbnb

There are many accommodation apps but these two are our favourites. hotels.com has a simple, clean interface that records all your hotel bookings in one place. It also has a wonderful rewards program – when you book 10 nights with hotels.com, you get a night free!

Sometimes it’s hard to find reasonably priced accommodation in a hotel, so we choose Airbnb to provide a more affordable home away from home experience.

Skyscanner

If you’re not familiar with the website Skyscanner, I would highly recommend you check it out. This website & app are one of the best for finding the lowest priced flights.

Tripwise

You can’t leave Australia without downloading this excellent app that comes with your Travel Insurance Direct insurance policy. It includes information such as emergency contacts, information regarding your upcoming locations and useful phrases.

Google Maps 

Almost all of us know Google Maps! We tend to use it most when we take a turn in the wrong direction or need to know exactly where we are. It’s also convenient for finding the locations of local supermarkets, ATMs and a wide variety of stores. To make it even better, you can now download offline maps too!

TripAdvisor

We love TripAdvisor and use it for every destination we visit. This app is one of the best. For most cities, you can download the map, including all of the attractions and restaurants, to use offline.

Main attractions are listed from user reviews in a 1-10 order, as are restaurants and some activities. We have generally found that the majority of the top reviewed places on TripAdvisor are definitely worth it. You can also ‘save’ them to your offline map, making it a great record of all the exciting things you’ve seen and the delicious food you’ve eaten while on holiday!

Lastly, if you become a member of TripAdvisor, you get virtual badges for the more reviews you post. So, if you are at all competitive or like to receive virtual achievements, it could be the app for you!

Gate Guru

Travelling as much as we have, we’ve had more than our fair share of long layovers, and even a couple of uncomfortable nights in airports (I don’t recommend it!). So we love this app. Gate Guru provides you with information on the amenities of the airport – i.e. restaurants, shops and services. It also tells you if these amenities are pre-security, in arrivals, or near a specific gate or terminal. It provides a map of the airport so, if you have a tight layover and want to find out exactly how to get to your next gate, you can check the map in advance to get a better idea.

Citymapper 

Citymapper goes beyond Google Maps to provide extraordinarily detailed information on your options for getting from one location to another using public transport. We used it just the other day in Belgium to get from our hotel in Gent to Bruges for a day trip – in our case it gave us full details of the walk, tram and train trips that we needed to take.

It also has an excellent function that allows you to activate alerts during your journey. The app can tell you useful tidbits such as when your stop is next or when you need to turn.

It’s especially handy in bigger cities with public transport that can be intimidating to tourists. You can literally have the tube map on your phone and it will tell you which direction you should go. It’s great for avoiding those frustrating times when you arrive at a subway station only to realise that it isn’t the right line to get you to your destination.

Another extremely useful function is that you can share your location with another. You can send your start and end points to a friend who can track you live. It’s helpful, not only to let your friends know when to meet you, but as an important safety feature.

Uber

This might be a contentious one, but we think Uber is great, ever since it cost us 35USD to get to our accommodation from Florida Airport, and only 8USD to get back to the airport with Uber.

Many countries have Uber now which is extremely convenient. An added bonus is that it eliminates any taxi scams that tourists tend to encounter (which we have fallen victim to more than once), it allows for a cash-free transaction and, from our experience, is generally a cheaper and more relaxed experience than cab rides.

Speak Easy

Speak Easy is a great app to learn the basics of a language quickly. We have tried a number of language apps, and think this is the best if you want to learn just enough to get by. The free version of the app covers greetings, basic phrases, railway/trains, travel essentials, days and numbers. 630 more phrases and topics can be purchased from the app store for $3.99. The app covers the following languages for free – French, European Spanish, Latin American Spanish, German, Japanese, Italian, Russian and Ukrainian.

Sky Guide

This will be the ultimate app for any photographers out there. By pointing your camera at the sky (or ground) you can see exactly where the sun, moon, Milky Way and every other constellation in the sky is, at any given moment. It also lets you find out the exact time and location the sun will hit the horizon, or the Milky Way will be passing over you. This app is a photographers dream, and an absolute must.

Google Translate 

I don’t know how they did it, but Google has made the coolest app ever. This app will translate anything. You don’t even have to type in the text. You can simply point your camera at a sign, menu, ticket, brochure and it will translate it! This app works for a number of languages from French to Croatian, Polish and Arabic.

The app also lets you speak the words to be translated which can be extremely useful if you are having trouble communicating with a local. You just speak into the microphone and the app will do the translating. It also allows you to write the word or phrase you are trying to translate.

Must have travel apps

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Author

Eddie Hobson is an Australian photographer and filmmaker who is on an 18-month journey to 'Capture The World'. His series of 60 Short Films (created through timelapse and hyperlapse footage) capture the natural beauty of some of the most famous cities around the world, culminating in a Feature Film at the end of the project.

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