Essential travel apps

Master travel with these mobile tools.

Now that people are over the whole “I want to explore naturally, not use technology” idea, there are a few apps that can relieve a lot of stress whilst travelling. I’ve been approached to promote a few apps, but declined on every occasion. This list is only what I find legitimately useful; no sponsored content here.

 

Google Maps

This one is obvious and you all know what it does. A little tip I was given back in 2014 that has saved me many times; load the area you’re going during the day whilst on your hostel WiFi, then when you’re out and about turn GPS on. Google Maps stores the map for you and GPS is completely free (it requires no data), so you can see where you are on the map. You can’t enter a new route to follow or search for a specific place, but having a map with your current GPS location on it has got me out of a lot of jams.

 

Rail Planner Eurail/Interrail

If you’re travelling Europe by train or bus, this app is your bible. Every single train and bus time in Europe along with what is a regular train vs the more expensive trains that aren’t included on a lot of internal/train tickets. There’s a lot of apps offering this service but they’re either full of pointless bloat or mistakes. It’s basic but it does everything perfectly.

 

SkyScanner

The cheapest flights. You probably used it to book your travels already. I don’t actually have the app installed, I just bookmark the website on my home screen because it doesn’t take up storage space on my phone and functions the same. Still the best website out there, although I’m sure there is some decent competition I don’t know about.

 

Couch Surfing

Once you get in the right frame of mind and accept staying in a stranger’s house isn’t weird/dangerous, couch surfing rocks. We’d often try and couch surf during our first night in a new city just to learn what locals enjoy, remove the stress of finding a hostel and to make a local friend. It doesn’t always happen but your host is sometimes willing to pick you up when you arrive as well! Paying for your stay is against the rules, but we’d often buy our host a few drinks to thank them. Another app I uninstalled and just bookmarked on my phone’s home screen.

 

Any QR scanner

QR codes are stupid. They suck and people need to stop using them. However a lot of countries use them for eeeeeeeverything so having a QR scanner on your phone is pretty useful. There’s no specific one I’d recommend, just get the first free one that pops up on your phone’s relevant store.

 

HostelWorld

Another obvious one. Of the many hostel apps, Hostelworld remains my favourite (although Hostelbookers is up there, they’re the same thing). A lot of other hostel apps actually just search HostelWorld, add 1% onto the price and book through HostelWorld for you when you book, so just cut the crap and go for HostelWorld. The website offers some additional features so sometimes I’ll switch to the website, but I keep the app installed for convenience.

 

Booking.com

Travelling on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t afford hotels! If you’re travelling with somebody it’s often cheaper to get a hotel room together – and although it cuts out the social aspect, it can be extremely valuable when you need to relax. Booking.com also offers discounts and rewards every few bookings, as well as the cheapest prices almost every time. I tend to bookmark the website rather than installing the app with this one, as well.

 

You may have noticed I actually use websites a lot more than apps. This is purely to save space on my phone for photos. These days most websites are made with mobile in mind, so work perfectly or possibly better than their app counterparts.¬†Other apps that take up a lot of space I would advise switching to the web versions include Dropbox, Facebook and Twitter. Another obvious tip is to take photos with your phone’s camera app rather than Snapchat/Instagram as these apps lower the quality of your photos MASSIVELY.