With the number of travel apps on offer these days, you could easily spend more time looking at your phone than at the destination you came to see. However, there are some options that will save you time and money on the road. 'appy travels!
While we don’t advocate spending too much time ‘eyes down’ on your smartphone when travelling (yeah, yeah, we know: FOMO, the struggle is real), there are exceptions.
With a new free travel app popping up on your social radar every five minutes, it’s hard to differentiate between time savers and time wasters. So we’ve done it for you because we wouldn’t want you to miss out…
TripIt is great for keeping multiple flight and hotel reservations organised and staying abreast of real-time updates. All you need to do is forward your confirmation emails to TripIt and they do the rest. The niftiest thing is you can add friends and family to your itinerary so they get updates too. Download it and never miss a flight or lose a hotel deposit again. And make your mother happy.
2. Lonely Planet Guides
Imagine if the entire content of the full collection of Lonely Planet doorstoppers ever produced could fit in the palm of your hand. Done. Free. Enough said. Buy that smaller backpack.
For the compulsive over thinker and pre-trip researcher, Pocket enables you to download and save articles and images to your phone so they’re available offline whenever you want to refer back to them. So when you find the perfect Wiki on how to barter with the best in a Moroccan bazaar, it’s right there on hand when you need it. Tip: don’t bother downloading that one.
4. Lounge Buddy
While the frequent flyers might not be thrilled about it, these days it’s pretty easy to buy your way into an airport lounge. We know. Total disgrace. LoungeBuddy alerts you to airport lounge locations all over the world, and you can purchase last minute access at a great price through the app. Yep. If you need us, we’ll be in the lounge, buddy.
Uber is great at home — and on holiday! No more getting ripped off by unscrupulous airport taxi drivers, because wherever you are in the world the app logs your route so any funny business is all on record. And because it’s cashless, you won’t be expected to tip. Happy days.
HotelTonight does almost exactly what it says on the tin. Almost, because it actually finds you available last minute hotel rooms up to seven days ahead. You’ll have the opportunity to get drastically reduced rates on some pretty upmarket sleeps, and often even bonus deals when the app’s GPS figures out you’re in town (‘Geo rates’!). Big Brother might finally be using his powers for good…
7. Xe Currency
We’ve all been on the wrong end of a dodgy exchange rate, but with the Xe Currency app you’ve got real time fiscal figures at your fingertips so you can see if what you’re being offered is legit, or at least fair. It also works offline using the data most recently downloaded.
Rome2Rio serves up your travel options from point A to point B by planes, trains and automobiles — and not just estimated travel times, but also the approximate cost of each. It’s a great way of comparing apples with oranges — and seeing which offers the juiciest value.
9. Google Translate
The witchcraft that is Google Translate knows no bounds. With the latest version you can type, talk or just point your phone at text and you’re instantly fluent in whatever language you like. Get that discount for flying on Dienstag! Save a bundle by travelling on a kereta api instead of a pesawat! But the real beauty is that you can use it without an Internet connection. Witchcraft, I tells ya.
Zomato puts discounted dinners on your holiday table by bringing together all the restaurants and cafes in a destination and giving you an overview of menus, locations and the approximate prices. With more than a million places to eat around the globe at your fingertips, you’ll never have to suffer the curse of the ‘tourist menu’ again. Delicious!
Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of ten of the best free travel apps? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Julietta Henderson is a Melbourne-based travel writer and author. Originally planning to visit London for six months, she ended up staying for ten years and now divides her time between her home in Australia and several months of the year in the UK, Italy and France. Julietta has travelled extensively through Europe, North America, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia and Russia, and believes the keys to a great travel experience are an open heart, an open mind and an open-ended ticket. Her first novel — The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman — is now available in bookstores.