Each week on The Traveler Series I ask bloggers, travel editors and photographers what is the one thing they cannot travel without. While answers usually vary between headphones, cameras, journals and computers almost everyone touts their cellphone as being absolutely necessary–and with today’s travel apps it’s no wonder! With the touch of a finger, today’s travel apps can do everything from find you affordable airfare, comfortable accommodations, overcome language barriers and keep you connected to friends and family back home. Although I like to disconnect from technology when I travel, my travel apps are essential in the planning phase of my trip and can even lend a hand when I’m abroad. Here I share my go-to travel apps.
Agoda–Priding themselves on smarter hotel booking, Agoda is a great resource to discover accommodations. Dying to book that gorgeous hotel room but short on the cash? One of the great features of Agoda is that it allows you to tap into deals, book now and pay later on select properties.
Airbnb--Although I’m a big fan of hostels, Airbnb is one of my favorite go-to apps when looking for an apartment to rent while abroad. If you haven’t heard of Airbnb yet, it is a community where people can post their homes as accommodation options for visiting travelers. If wary about having someone stay in your home or getting ripped off, Airbnb will not release any payments until 24 hours after check-in to ensure that travelers get exactly what they paid for. Similarly, Airbnb insures renters up to a certain amount to cover any theft and/or damage.
HostelWorld–A great resource for the hostel search, HostelWorld shares ratings and reviews on hostels around the world. While hostels can sometimes get a bad reputation, apps like HostelWorld take away the mystery of hostels by offering up clear information and user recommendations/reviews on where to stay.
WeHostels–Because I like to have multiple apps to cross reference accommodation and flight searches, I use WeHostels as another great app to look up hostels and their reviews.
Skyscanner–Skyscanner is one of my favorite search engines to look up airfare. Similar to other flight search apps, Skyscanner compares million of flights to find the cheapest airfare. Yet unlike Orbitz or Expedia, Skyscanner pulls in smaller airlines and has other useful functions such as searching from “where you are to everywhere.”
Momondo–Searching for flights is like a choreographed dance–it takes multiple flight search engines, knowing the right time to buy and being savvy to airfare saving tricks to walk away with an affordable ticket. Like Skyscanner, Momondo is a global aggregator that pulls in smaller, local airlines. Both Skyscanner and Momondo are good starting points when looking for affordable flights.
Air Fast Tickets–Another good resource for cheap airfare is Air Fast Tickets, which has an easy-to-use interface.
Kayak–I tend to shy away from big search engines like Orbitz and Expedia because in my experience flight prices prove much higher on these apps. My exception is Kayak, which usually pulls up good flight prices and (more importantly) gives an idea of when is the best time to buy a ticket. Kayak uses a price prediction tool that will estimate whether flight prices will rise or fall in the coming weeks and then recommend whether you should lock in your ticket.
Rome to Rio–I recently learned about Rome to Rio and am happy to add it to my must-use travel appps. Rome to Rio helps you trace a path from where you are to anywhere in the world. Visiting Buenos Aires and interested in checking our neighboring Uruguay? Rome to Rio will pull up flights, trains, buses, ferries and more to get you there.
Uber–While I have yet to use Uber during my travels, in New York City I find Uber to be a great tool when taxis are MIA, subsways are far and I’m in need of a safe ride home. Uber works by finding your location, pulling up registered Uber vehicles in your area and allowing you to order a pick up.
Whisk–Similar to Uber, Whisk is a pick up service that offers the same convenient rides at a lower price point than Uber.
Helpful Travel Tools
Duolingo–Whether it is brushing up on my Spanish, trying my hand at French or revisiting that semester of Italian, when I travel abroad I like to come armed with a basic knowledge of the local language. Duolingo is a fun app that has games and quizzes for people to practice a language of their choice.
iTranslate–Hand in hand with Duolingo, iTranslate is a quick, go-to app for those one-off words and sentences you need to translate in the moment.
Convert–Quick & easy, Convert is an application that converts currency and allows you to know how much you’re spending no matter the country you’re in.
Whatsapp–If I am keeping in touch with friends abroad or checking in with family back home, Whatsapp is an awesome app that offers free texting, picture and video messaging anywhere in the world. Whatsapp uses the numbers in your address book to locate friends and keep you connected during your travels.
Help Call–Although emergencies are the last thing you want to think about when traveling abroad, Help Call is a useful app that auto-detects your location and allows for one-touch access to local police, fire stations and ambulances in over 120 countries. ‘Knock on wood’ that you won’t have to use this little app while on the road but it is good to know that if needed the large buttons and shake to call function are in your back pocket.
Mint–I often tout the benefits of using Mint for saving for travel because of its ability to centralize all your financial accounts into one place. It’s a great way to set budgets, set financial goals, help save for a trip or simply check your bank accounts while abroad.