We remember the days of travelling through Europe with road maps. This certainly led to a lot of frustration and getting lost was the norm. We have it so easy nowadays with GPS in cars and on our phones. We have come such a long way and so many options our there of applications and technology to make trip planning and travelling a lot easier. Following are some of the applications and resources that we have used over the last few years, that have indeed made travelling easier.
- “GPS” – Apps like “IMaps” or “Google Maps” make travelling by car, transit and walking so much easier. Download offline maps for where you are travelling in case the network coverage is spotty.
- “Google Translate” – A translation application with most languages. You can type or speak and the translated version will appear. Also a camera function so that you can take a picture of a written word or phrase and it will tranlate it.
- “MasterCard Dragon Pass” – To find lounges in airports around the world.
- “YELP” – Reviews on restaurants.
- “Trip Advisor & Hotel Apps” – To help find hotels/apartments , restaurants, activities in the area you are visiting. Reviews also included.
- “XE Currency” – Currency exchange.
- “Tripit” – All your travel plans in once place. You simply forward your air, hotel, tour and transport confirmations to them and they create an itinerary. You can also enter information manually or you can set up a function to have the app synced with your email and it will automatically insert new travel details as they are received from the provider (ie: airlines, hotels, etc)
- “UBER” – Taxi service. In some major cities in Europe, Uber is not allowed. Look for local apps to get a taxi service. In Barcelona we used “Free Now” which worked the same as Uber, but was for local taxis. These apps are great as your credit card information is input and you don’t have to worry about having local cash or haggling for a price.
- “Weather” – A must!
- “Travel Books” – Yes, still refer to travel books. I usually pick these up from the library when I start planning for a trip. A great reference guide. I love the recommended 3, 4 ,7 day itineraries in some of these books. Also invaluable information, for example, when travelling by car in Austria, Slovenia and other countries, a “vignette – travel pass” is required for your vehicle; takes place of a tolls. Also a good reference for what neighbourhoods to stay in when staying in large cities.
- “Netflix & Prime” – Available now in most countries. Also allows one to download shows and series prior to leaving…..just in case you don’t like the inflight entertainment! If we are staying in an apartment for say, a month, we will ask the owner if they have a smart TV which includes Netflix. If they don’t we have brought our Apple Box, appropriate cable and remote control with us, which can be hooked up to any television.
- “Local City Applications” – I always refer to local city tourism sites, invaluable for what is going on in the city you are visiting. Another example is the local “Transport” information. Most cities with transit systems will have a section where you can input your starting and destination points. They will then tell you what bus/tram/metro to catch and at what time, invaluable.
- “Language Applications” – “Mango” a language course is available free of charge from the library. Lots on the internet as well. If you are going to be in a county or city for a good length of time, don’t overlook taking local language courses. When in Bueno Aries, we took a Spanish course, led by a local. We would go to grocery stores, pharmacies, take the metro, learn how to order in restaurants…it was a great way to learn.
- “Library Books” – I usually download e-books from the library before we leave. If taking a long car trip, I download audio books onto my ipad and play them through the car audio system using bluetooth, passes the time.
- “Airline Apps” – Download airline apps so you can receive any flight changes such as delays and cancellations. Some airlines now require their app to access their entertainment offerings.
- “WhatsApp” – A messaging and voice app, which uses the internet to avoid phone network charges. For example, if you just land somewhere and you need to get in touch with your rental accommodation, simply log onto the airport internet then text/call the individual.
- “SIM cards” – Whenever we are out of the country for more than a week, we will normally visit a local telco and switch out our SIM cards for a local provider. Very inexpensive in most cases and saves you from your local roaming charges from your provider in your home country. Canada has very expensive roaming fees.
- “Viator or Airbnb” – Both of these apps are marketplaces for tours, activities and attractions. Airbnb.com/experiences. I also usually check with local tourist bureau’s for tours and activities.
I will continue to update this as I discover new applications and aids to travelling.