MY FAVORITE TRAVEL APPS
Goodbye to the days of using paper maps, self navigation, and being stressed whiled traveling! The way we travel is changing every day, and now there are countless travel tools and advancements that you might not even know about yet. With most everyone having their own cellular device, smartphone users have access to an endless multitude of useful and amazing travel applications. Whether it’s visas, currency, navigation, connecting with others, packing, flying, transportation, or anything under the giant umbrella of travel, there are so many new applications that make the traveling life easier.
I’m excited to introduce some amazing apps to you that I use a lot when abroad. In this post I’m going to list my most commonly used travel applications and describe them using my personal experiences. Clear up some phone storage now, because you just can’t travel without some of these apps once you know they exist.
Google Maps. “Seriously? The first app you’re going to tell us about is google maps? Isn’t that kind of obvious or pointless if you have the maps application on your IOS device anyway?” Yes and no. It might seem strange to download another mapping application to your IOS device if you already have one but there is a reason for this. Google Maps might seem like all the rest, but there is a very nifty and useful feature that you might not know about. This feature is the offline map download. What this means is you can use google maps without internet connection! This seems impossible at first but it truly exists. Here is how it works. You start by selecting a city, neighborhood, area, or whatever you have open on your Google Maps screen. The selected area can be as large as a metropolitan city or even a tiny neighbor is size. Next, click ‘download offline’ map. This saves the map you have selected to your device for offline usage. When you visit a new place, you can now search for destinations that you have within your map and Google Maps will route you to your destination. Amazing! This is great for when you have a destination set and want to navigate yourself there and don’t have any fancy international data plans like me.
Maps.me. This is another great mapping app that works similarly to Google Maps. The only difference is that it doesn’t route you to your destination. Although it lacks this feature like the Google Maps app, maps.me uses a lot less storage on your phone and can save much larger maps of bigger cities. I end up using this for general usage as it tracks your updated location on your saved map. It’s useful for just ‘knowing where you generally are’ so to speak. Surprisingly, it doesn’t use very much storage and consider this one of the most accurate and useful mapping applications.
PackPoint- Now that you know you won’t get lost in a new city or place, it’s time to start packing for your trip. Pack Point is an amazing travel packing app that clearly organizes your personal list based on what type of location you are going. You start by selecting location, dates, duration, and type of trip. It then calculates the weather forecast at your destination in advanced and creates a packing list. You select which types of activities you will be doing while traveling. Examples are swimming, hiking, fancy, photography, biking, beach, international, and the list goes on…. This is great because it suggests items to pack that you might not even think of or realize you need until it reminds you. You simply check off the boxes of the items for all different kinds of customizable trips. It’s also easy to create your own packing list within the app and stay organized before travel.
Currency– This app is just what it sounds like. It’s an offline currency converter. You can select as many different currencies as you want on your home screen. You click on any of the currencies, type in an amount, and it gives you the direct exchange rates. I use this a lot when I’m not exactly sure how much something costs based on conversions in my head. When connected to the internet, the app updates itself automatically with the global exchange rate to maintain accurate results. Simple but useful!
Hostel World– If you’re more of budget traveler, this is the app for you. If you’ve travelled to hostels before it’s likely you’ve heard of this app or at least the website that coincides with it. This app makes it super easy to find and book hostels all around the world. There is a live stream of reviews from other travelers that rate their experiences based on cleanliness, location, value, hospitality, social, etc. It’s great because sometimes you need to book a last minute hostel and this app allows you to see what is available in the area. It clearly maps out where the hostels are located relative to each other and the city they’re in. It’s a great place to see all of your hostel options rather than google searching individual websites and keeping track of them all! Super easy to compare prices too.
Yelp– A huge part of traveling is experiencing new food! It’s most likely you’ve heard of Yelp before but if you haven’t downloaded it already you should really consider finally downloading it yourself. Yelp has helped me find the best restaurants and cafes based on just what I’m looking for. It’s so much easier than sifting through giant lists on Google search. My favorite part of this app is that is suggests more restaurants and places to eat based on what you already have reviewed, accounting for what other people have tried. Overall a great foodie community.
TraveLibro– This is a fun and rather new app that creates an online travelers community. You create a profile and share your reviews, photos, videos, and reccommendations based on your past travels. You can share itineraries and answers/ask questions directly to other users about accommodations, excursions, destinations, all of it! A bunch of big online travel influencers have joined the community and made the platform more widely used. If this app interests you, you can follow my profile @jeff_hyer to see my travel page.
Uber– need I say more? This app is essential for international travel these days. Not all cities have Uber but for those that do, it’s the cheapest and fastest way to get around via road. This app has definitely saved my butt before.
Been– This app doesn’t have many important practical uses, but I include it on this list because it’s travel related and a fun way to document the countries you’ve traveled to. This app allows you to select the countries/states you’ve been to and to see on a global-scale how much you’ve traveled.
WhatsApp-This is a travel app essential for communicating. It’s quite simply an internet-based calling/messaging app that allows you to use your already existing phone number for international coverage. The messaging and phone calling systems on this app are designed to use as little data/storage as possible, and therefore it requires the least amount of internet connection to successfully send messages. You can also send short videos and photos through this app as well. This is the primary app I use abroad when out of the country…and it’s absolutely free.
Mobile Passport– This app is what traveling in the 21st century is all about! Believe it or not, this government technology will make your life easier when traveling. No, it doesn’t replace the need for traveling with a passport, but it does decrease your waiting time in U.S. international customs by a landslide. This app is a replacement for filling out a customs form and entering information at a customs kiosk. Lines for these kiosks and then the line to submit the printed customs ticket at airports can be unpredictably catastrophic and take over an hour at times. If you enter your information on Mobile Passport, you can skip these lines and enter a fancier ‘Mobile Passport Line’ that is available in most U.S. international airports. Here is how it works: you first download the free Mobile Passport app on your ISO or Android phone. Next, you answer a few questions, take a photo of your passport, and take a photo of yourself (this would all be done in the customs kiosks if you were traveling without the app). Entering all of this information can be done on your flight and doesn’t require wifi connection. Later, you submit all of this saved information once you arrive and can connect to free airport wifi. Lastly, and most rewardingly, find the special “Mobile Passport Lane,” skip the long kiosk lines, and scan your app at the custom officer’s port of entry desk. It’s that easy! This app can be a lifesaver if you have a tight international connection and is a reliable technology that most people don’t know exists yet. Take advantage of this free app and travel smarter and faster.
Here is a helpful video that demonstrates the use of the Mobile Passport application: