Our smartphones and especially the Internet today provide us with all sorts of useful tools and apps that make travelling easier. So if you want to save time, money or luggage weight, if you want to travel comfortably or just want to visit the good places and restaurants: Attention! Here is my collection of useful apps and travel methods. So that your journey will be in the center and not its organization.
How do I find the right flight?
Of course, there is an app for it. For example swoodoo or skyscanner. Why do I use an app? I can spontaneously book online, check in, be informed of delays and have everything on my phone. I do not have to print anything or dig into my emails.
How do I get around on the spot?
Well proven of course is the Google Maps app. Note that there is also an offline option here. You can download sections of a map in advance and then navigate offline. In Asian countries, I would definitely recommend this to track the route in the taxi itself, so the taxi driver sees that he cannot fool you. An alternative to Google might be Maps.Me, which specializes in offline maps. In some countries it is necessary to retrieve local bus timetables as the infrastructure is not yet sufficiently developed and Google would not have any suggestions. On your journey you can usually go by bus, train, taxi, metro or shuttles. The Uber App offers you a comparatively cheap and fast alternative and is now represented in many countries. Also, you can pay by credit card set up in your account and don’t have to have cash with you. In some countries, there is a national Uber alternative (such as BiTaksi in Istanbul) that copied the concept. These apps are usually also displayed on Google Maps or can be found prominently in the app stores. If you choose the Uber alternative, you support local businesses.
How do I organize my accommodation?
Apps like Booking, Hostelworld or AirBnB offer numerous ways to book accommodation. Personally, I use Booking when I need a room at short notice. The confirmation will be sent a few minutes later and I can check in the same day. Couchsurfing is an alternative that gives you the chance to stay at places of locals. In my experience, you should bring some lead time here because the response speed of the hosts is not always the fastest. Also, your potential hosts might not have time on the requested days.
How do I get Wifi?
To use most of these app services, you must have Wifi access from time to time. You usually get them in restaurants and bars, actually always in fast food restaurants and other chains (e.g. McDonalds, StarBucks), at airports and sometimes in public places. In some countries, dialing in can be easier if you sign in through an existing social media account like Facebook. If you want to protect your data, consider creating a second account. I would be rather careful with so-called Wifi Map Apps: Even though they show you the nearest Wifi points and even passwords for it, they usually require many rights on your phone. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with ordering a water right where you’re cnnecting to the Wifi, right? If you travel a lot with internet in a country where this is not common, I recommend a second SIM card for the time of your trip. They are also available at airports, kiosks or supermarkets with prepaid credit or with an Internet package included.
How do I communicate easily?
Google Translate allows you to download any language you want to translate, even voice-controlled. If you want to dive deeper into a new culture, you can start learning the language of the destination country with language apps like Babbel or the free alternative Duolingo. The most important thing for me in every language: Thank you, Please, Hello, Bye, Yes, No, How are you, good!
What other apps are useful?
- For Germany, there is an app of the Foreign Office with current travel advice
- Dropbox: Putting all important travel documents in one place
- Instagram or Facebook are great for discovering current events. For example, you can enter the name of the place as a place tag or in the hashtag search.
- TripAdvisor to easily find good restaurants or tours
- Kindle: By loading books onto your smartphone, you save even more travel weight.
- Whatsapp, Facebook or Skype can be used to call your loved ones back home. In my experience, however, Skype needs more mobile data here and does not work as well as the other two options.
- Splitwise provides the possibility to check your expenses within a group and easily pay debts by Paypal.
- Apps for online banking make sense to always stay informed about your financial status. For example, anyone who has an account with DKB can use the DKB App with Fingerprint Log In. In my opinion that is very convenient as I do not have to enter passwords in unsecured Wifis on the way.
How do I get information?
I do not use apps for things that can be easily found out with any search engine. For example a currency converter, up to date information or information about sights… This way I save some space on my phone as well as the printed guide.
I hope this list provides some orientation in the jungle of travel apps. I like using those apps myself, so I have room for other things in my packing list and travel comfortably and stress-free around the world. If you want to travel completely without the Internet instead, then read this post: The Offline Challenge – Without Internet in Turkey. Have fun while traveling!