There are so many online and written travel materials available to us now that it can be confusing to decipher which of those actually help. If, like me, you’re on a budget or just don’t want to fork our for physical travel guides, there are plenty of free online resources you can use to ease both the planning process and the experience of your trip, regardless of how short, long, or where in the world it is.
Later this week I’ll be publishing another installment of this post that will focus strictly on websites, so if you have any questions or recommendations feel free to leave them in the comments below. If you’d like that post, and my other travel posts, straight to your inbox you can subscribe to my blog here.
- Google Maps – Whilst Apple Maps is already installed on your iPhone, in all honestly I prefer the layout of Google Maps as it gives you a 3D representation of you moving along your route, making understanding your environment a whole lot easier than looking down at a 2D map. You can pre-enter a route whilst you still have WiFi or internet access and download it to use when you arrive at your destination. The amount of times in the past I’ve had to switch my internet roaming and the costs that have come with that are ridiculous, so I cannot recommend preparing your routes in advance to avoid any confusion and unnecessary additional costs.
- Google Translate – If you’re travelling to places more off the beaten track, it’s not unusual to run into transport, people and signage that doesn’t have an English alternative. With Google Translate you can ask questions to locals, staff at restaurants and hotels and to decipher places and stop names on local maps.
- TripAdvisor – Depending on where in the world you’re reading this from, you may be more familiar with Yelp, but both apps are cut from the same cloth. The TripAdvisor app gives you ratings, photographs and reviews from past customers for everything from restaurants to excursions. If you’re visiting somewhere for the first time and aren’t familiar with where to eat or drink, this is a great app to check before you head out.
- Skyscanner – I always use Skyscanner to book my flights, and you can now book both hotels and car rentals on the app/ website, too. You can be as vague or specific with dates and locations as you want and the app will find the best options for you from every airline in the world that carries those routes.
- TripIt – If you’re travelling solo, in a couple or as a group, TripIt allows you to create a conglomerate of your itineraries based on information from you and/ or their phone. This app is especially helpful if more than one person is planning the logistics of the trip, and saves confusion and sending back and forth of information via email and so on. If you’re travelling alone, it’s also really helpful to have your entire itinerary consolidated in a single place so you can use it for reference and see if there’s anything missing.
- Rome2Rio – If you’ll be heading to more than one destination on your trip, Rome2Rio is fantastic for comparing prices and times taken on travelling from one place to another. It gives you costs on flying, buses, taxis and trains and lets you know how long each of those transport options will take. This is especially helpful if you’re backpacking and don’t have a solid plan in place but still want to travel at as least an expense as possible when you do decide where to go next.
- VSCO – Of all the apps I’ve ever used for photo editing, VSCO is by far the one with the best presets. If you’re not confident in your photo taking, or you just want to step up the picture quality, the app is easy to use and is what I use for every single photograph I’ve ever uploaded to this blog and its social media platforms.
- Trivago – Trivago is great for both when you’re on the road and before planning your trip. It pulls hotels in any area and dates you specify and gives you the cheapest way to book it online, whether it be through a comparison website or the hotel’s own website. If you prefer to stay in a specific hotel, you can also compare the prices for that itself and find the cheapest place to book, too.
- Apple Wallet – If you’re travelling on several flights, one flight or with different airlines, you will likely need to download your boarding pass to your phone and scan it at airport security. If you do this as soon as you’re able to check in, you can go ahead and delete the airline app to free up storage space but be confident your boarding pass is on your person an in your wallet. It’s also much more convenient than carrying around several pieces of paper to scan and removes the worry of losing and printing papers. If you lose your phone, your boarding pass will be available to download on another device or will be saved to your Apple ID, so don’t worry about losing your pass as well as your phone.
- Kindle – If you’re not a reader, find a game to download that doesn’t require an internet connection like Chess or Candy Crush, because sitting in airports and on planes and in buses can get extremely boring after around five minutes. You can download books in advance with the Kindle app and don’t need an internet connection to read books you’ve already installed on your phone, so even one book will make a flight go a whole lot quicker. Whilst I love having books in my hands and find it a lot more engaging to have the physical copy to read, it’s impossible to pack a ton of books when you’re already cramped for space in your luggage and carrying the extra weight just isn’t worth it when you can have the same texts on your phone or tablet, which you would be carrying anyway.
If you can think of any apps I missed in this list please be sure to let me know and I’ll regularly add and take away apps as I find alternatives or these become outdated.
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