Best apps for travellers
By Harry Brown |
2nd January, 2020 |
Before the smartphone was invented, you’d have to rely on your initiative and map-reading skills when travelling the world. You couldn’t just load up Google Maps and be guided to your destination, you’d have to search out it. How things have changed…
Now, you can plug in technology to just about every element of travel. From planning your stops through to your flight home, there’s an app for everything. As a keen traveller, it’s about separating the helpful apps from the (well-intentioned but) unhelpful ones. There are plenty of great apps across the Android and Apple marketplaces, it’s just a matter of finding them.
That’s where we come in. We’re going to serve you up the best apps for aiding your travel, so that you don’t have to spend hours of your time going through a process of trial and error.
By the time you’re done reading this article, your smartphone will be packed with so many great apps that it’ll feel more important than ever. Given how important our phones are to us, it’s worth considering taking out mobile phone insurance – especially if you’re going abroad – which can protect you against risks such as accidental damage and theft.
Right, let’s get on with it. Here are the best apps for today’s modern travellers.
A big part of successful travel is being organised. If you’re organised, you won’t be in a rush to the airport risking missing your flight or scrambling around for confirmation of your hostel booking. While there’s always the risk of something not quite going to plan – that’s traveling for you – you will at least be able to say that you’ve done everything you can to make your trip run as smoothly as possible.
Tripit is a major hit with travellers, having been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times across the two marketplaces. It’s easy to see why. It allows you to store all your reservations – flight, hotel, car and so on – in one place. So, when you need to call upon them, you’re not manically searching your email inbox.
All you need to do is simply forward all your confirmation emails to email@example.com and Tripit will instantly add it to your master itinerary. You don’t even need to be online to access the documents.
What’s more, Tripit makes it easy to sync travel plans to your calendar, or share them with somebody else – travelling is better done with a companion, after all!
Come the end of your trip, Tripit rounds up the distance you’ve travelled, the trips you’ve taken, the countries you’ve visited and more, which acts as a nice memento of the time away.
Tripit is free to download. But there’s also Tritit Pro which, for the price of a yearly subscription, gives you additional functionality such as real-time flight alerts and guides on how to make your way through the airport as quickly as possible. If you’re prone to running late, you might consider it money well spent!
Flight delays and cancellations are more common than you might think. If you find yourself the victim of a delayed, cancelled or overbooked flight, you’ll need AirHelp.
AirHelp does the hard work of reimbursing you for any flight disruption you endure, making a claim to the airline on your behalf. All you need to do is provide your flight details and AirHelp will do the rest.
If they’re successful in getting your money back, AirHelp takes 25% of the payout and you get the remainder. You can’t say fairer than that. On average, AirHelp claims to win about €600 per claim.
Since AirHelp started in 2013, they have helped more than 16 million passengers. With thousands of positive reviews on Trustpilot, they really live up to their “no hassle, no stress” moto.
Did you know? If you’re flying to or from a European airport you’ll benefit from some of the strongest air passenger rights anywhere in the world. The EC 261 regulation says that airlines must compensate their passengers if they disrupt their journey.
If you’re working to a budget on your travels, the Hostelworld app is an essential download. Providing you with more than 36,000 properties in 170 countries, you’ll have no problem booking accommodation, for an affordable price, wherever you are in the world.
The Hostelworld app is simple and slick, making it easy for you to find somewhere to rest your head. The full-screen interactive map makes it easy to find a hostel near where you want to be, while those all-important reviews give you the confidence you’re not going to bed down somewhere that’s infested with all sorts of creepy crawlies.
When you hear ‘hostel’, you immediately think of dorms and while there are dorm rooms available on Hostelworld, you can book a private room if you’d prefer. Of course, you’ll end up paying a bit more for the privilege, but sometimes you just need your own space.
Free to download, use your location to easily find the perfect hostel near you. Remember, if you’re planning on staying in hostels, it’s wise to protect your device from theft with mobile phone insurance.
Continuing with the theme of keeping down your costs where possible, Skyscanner is very much the go-to app for cheap flights.
The app searches millions of flights from over 1,200 sources, giving you a number of different options in terms of route and price. Skyscanner lets you look at the cheapest days or months to fly to your destination and sends you notification of price changes.
Using Skyscanner, it pays to be flexible, which will work for some people but not everyone. If you’re ultra-flexible i.e. it’s not set in stone where you go, you can find some incredible deals. Instead of a fixed destination, just select “everywhere” from the drop down list to bring up a list of possible destinations, cheapest place first. A bit of spontaneity never hurt anyone.
Skyscanner isn’t all about flights – you can also book hotels and a car rental through the app, too.
What’s a smartphone without internet access? However, when travelling the world, you need to be careful not to use too much data – not only because most people have a limited amount, but because it can seriously cost you.
You’re best off waiting until you find some free wi-fi. That’s where the WiFi Map app comes in, providing you with access to more than 100 million open networks worldwide. The information is provided by the app’s users who not only add wi-fi hotspots but passwords too, where applicable.
Use the offline maps to discover the closest network in your location, then head in its direction to get online. The app also offers virtual private networks (VPNs) to give you complete security and anonymity when surfing the web, meaning that no one can get to the data that you’re sharing.
If you end up downloading and using the app, try to contribute to the community by adding wi-fi hotspots and passwords of your own finding. It’s all in keeping with WiFi Maps’ aim to “Empower everyone in the world with Free Internet Access”.
If you find yourself unable to get connected, don’t despair. CityMaps2Go claims to be the “ultimate offline map for travellers who want to be prepared wherever they go”, and millions of users seem to agree with them.
Unlike similar apps, CityMaps2Go features photos as well as tips and comprehensive in-depth info for millions of places around the world. Covering more than 150 countries, simply download and save the maps of the places you plan to visit, then you’ll have no trouble navigating streets, footpaths, and bikeways wherever you are.
The maps are precise and regularly updated with all transportations stops, points of interest, parks, food, hotels, nightlife… think of it and you’ll be able to find it on the map.
Brits have got something of a bad rep for not speaking foreign languages. According to research published by the European Commission, this bad reputation is totally justified. The results of the survey state that the British are officially the worst language learners in Europe, with almost two-thirds (62%) admitting they can’t speak any other language apart from English.
Surely it’s time to put that right?
The Duolingo app makes learning a new language feel like a game, with fun, bite-size lessons to test your knowledge. According to Duolingo, you’ll amaze yourself how much of a language you can learn in three months by just taking 10 minutes out of your day.
Develop reading, writing, speaking, listening and conversation skills, with more than 30 languages to choose from. Rewards give you added motivation and you can track your progress to see how far your language skills have come.
Give the free app a go to see how you fare. If you enjoy the process of learning a new language, you might want to consider upgrading to the Plus version, which removes the adverts and gives you additional features.
If you’ve not got a lot of time between now and your next trip, Duolingo might have to wait until your return. To see you through, download the Google Translate app which will ensure you’re not stumped by a sign or a restaurant menu.
The app offers text translation between 103 languages and instant camera translation in 90 languages – simply point your phone’s camera in the direction of an image with foreign text. You can even translate bilingual conversations on the fly in 43 languages.
The app allows you to connect with people, places and culture across language barriers, enriching your trip and providing you more with more stories on your return home. It’s like having a personal interpreter in your pocket!
When using a card abroad, you want to be able to spend on it knowing that you’re not going to be stung by transaction costs. As we move towards a cashless society, it feels wrong to have to pay for the privilege of using a card abroad. Not only that, it’s much safer and convenient to not have to take loads of foreign currency with you – even if you did lose your card, you could cancel it before anybody else can use it.
With a Monzo card, it’s assumed that you’re going to want to use it abroad at some point. As a result, you can spend with it for free. Monzo don’t add any fees to the exchange rate and you don’t need to tell them in advance that you’re travelling.
Meanwhile, the Monzo app makes it easy to keep track of what you’re spending on your travels. You can even get warnings if you’re spending too fast.
Finally, we had to include Uber on the list. With the company constantly expanding into new regions, there’s every chance that you’ll be able to hail a ride on the app wherever you end up.
What Uber has over local taxi companies is standardised functionality – you know exactly what you need to do to catch a ride.
While we’d usually advocate using public transport to get around – it often adds to the experience doing as the locals do – sometimes you might just need to hop in a taxi. Perhaps you’re exhausted after a long day exploring and just need to get back to your accommodation or it’s late at night and public transport is running less frequently. That’s when Uber can prove invaluable.
Insure your phone with Gadget Cover
Before you start loading your device with apps that will help you as you go about your travels, don’t forget to protect it with mobile phone insurance from Gadget Cover.
Whether you own an Apple iPhone, Samsung or other device, Gadget Cover can insure your phone that reflects your needs and budget. Take out a policy through us and you’ll enjoy a heap of benefits including:
- First month of cover free on policies paid monthly
- Discounts on policies paid annually
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- Low excess
- UK-based customer support
Protect your phone and back pocket against unforeseen circumstances with mobile phone insurance from Gadget Cover.