In this day and age, smartphones dominate. With just a couple taps on a touchscreen, we have the world at our fingertips, and an endless supply of knowledge ready to download onto the super computer behind our eyeballs. Although my phone can’t literally cook my breakfast for me–yet–there are some apps out there that make my life easier, especially when I’m traveling. Here, I’ve compiled a list of the best travel apps I have found over the course of my adventures. Some are more helpful than others, some are more heavily used than others, but all are a fantastic way to supplement your activities abroad.
Helpful hint: the best travel apps are those that don’t require the use of data, because when you’re abroad, data can get pretty expensive very quickly.
Kiwix is an app that allows you to download any wikipedia page or affiliated site for offline use. This is incredibly helpful if you want to have information about your destination literally in the palm of your hand without connecting to WiFi or using mobile data. One of my favorite sites for planning travels, wikivoyage.org, is one of the downloadable sites that Kiwix allows you to read offline, and is a fantastic resource when it comes to planning sightseeing, where to stay, what to do, where to eat, when to go, or anything else about a particular destination.
9. Google Hangouts
Regular texting can get expensive when you’re overseas. But with abundant WiFi in many areas, the Google Hangouts app allows you to “text” over WiFi easily. I prefer Hangouts to many texting apps, because it syncs across my Google account so I can text from my phone, laptop, and tablet instantly, as well as call and video chat. It’s also way less invasive and annoying than Skype.
Not only is it one of the best travel apps, but I use Spotify every single day even when I’m at home. Spotify is a powerful music streaming app that allows you to browse a vast array of music and create thousands of playlists that you can listen to offline (when you’re a premium subscriber). This is perfect if you have a long flight ahead of you because you can listen to your favorite music without WiFi. Spotify also has audio books and videos available to download ahead of time, so you can enjoy those offline as well.
Tripadvisor is another app that’s available for offline use that is a marvelous resource for planning your travels. You can read reviews from like-minded travelers for countless restaurants, tours, landmarks, and many other activities in most foreign countries. Tripadvisor makes it easy to figure out what is worth splurging on, and what might not actually be that worth it. It’s an excellent way to discover amazing things in your destination country that might be off your radar.
6. DB Navigator
If extensive train travel is on your agenda when traveling through Europe, DB Navigator is for you. Deutsche Bahn, the national railway company for Germany, and the largest railway operator and infrastructure owner in Europe, operates this app. With DB Navigator, you can look up train times, routes, connections, as well as buy tickets and have them available on your mobile device. It doesn’t just display German trains, either, but information for all train services across Europe. So regardless if you’re in Italy, Germany, France, or any other European country, if you’re traveling by train, this app is right up your alley.
AirBnB allows you to rent a room, apartment, house, bungalow, houseboat, treehouse, igloo, or other space to crash in your destination country. I prefer AirBnBs to hotels, and sometimes even hostels, because not only do you typically get more for your money, but you also get a more intimate experience. With AirBnB, you can live like the locals do, which adds to the overall adventure.
4. Rick Steves Audio Europe
You know when you visit a museum and they have those expensive audio guide mp3 players next to the ticket booth that you can rent if you want to learn anything? Well, the Rick Steves Audio Europe app is pretty much that, except it’s free. With this app, you can download audio guides for incredible museums such as the Louvre, wonderful churches such as St. Peter’s Basilica, and even walking tours for entire cities. This is one of the best travel apps for learning on the go in any of your European destinations.
3. Google Translate
Google Translate is an app that translates the local language to the language that you’re fluent in. One thing I love in particular about this app is that you can download entire dictionaries ahead of time, so it can be used offline. Not only that, but it translates in real-time using the camera on your phone. For example, if there’s a sign on a street corner in the local language that you’re unfamiliar with, by simply opening up the Google Translate app and tapping the camera button, holding your phone up to the sign will translate what the sign says in real-time. Fancy!
2. XE Currency
If you’re traveling to a country with a currency that’s different from your own, you’re probably going to want to know the most accurate and up to date conversion to your home country’s currency. This is where XE Currency comes in. By simply inputting the price of something in the local currency into XE Currency, it will instantly show what the price is in your own currency, making it extremely easy to tell how much you’re really spending when you’re abroad.
In my opinion, the king of the best travel apps on the market is Maps.Me. When you first step foot in a brand new country, there’s nothing quite as terrifying as not knowing where your hotel is, or where the metro is located, or where you even are. Maps.Me takes care of that with downloadable offline maps. There are multiple apps out there that do pretty much the same thing, however the interface with Maps.Me is more intuitive, clean looking, and easy to navigate. The level of detail is incredible, down to the tiniest streets in the most obscure regions, and it also has GPS navigation without using data, so you don’t have to worry about horrendous roaming charges.
Even though these apps take a lot of the guesswork out of the technical side of travel, make sure you put your phone away every so often and enjoy the moment! No app or electronic device in the entire world can produce the same feeling you get when you’re standing in front of something to truly marvel at.
In your opinion, what are the best travel apps out there? Any that you can’t live without?