12 Best Apps For Traveling That Will Make Your Trip Easier
So the travel bug bit you and you're dealing with a beautiful case of wanderlust. And while we may all yearn for that soul-fulfilling Eat Pray Love travel experience that looks so effortless, it takes some solid planning and neat travel hacks to use on your next vacation to get that carefree experience you deserve. The last thing you want ruining your travels is the unnecessary, avoidable stress that comes from poor planning and unpreparedness.
We're fortunate enough to be living in a thriving technological era that gives us those magical little things we so adore — apps. They can do all the thinking for us and figure things out that we may not have even considered before. And when you think about all the things that go into traveling, it can give you a big enough headache to deter you from even leaving your house altogether.
But don't let it. I love the quote, "travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer," because it's so on point. No wealth matches up to the memories you make, people you meet, sights you see, and food you taste. I really believe that each time you travel, you return a richer person. So to make the most out of your travel experience — from finding great affordable places to stay to staying on top of those currency exchange rates — check out 12 of these awesome apps you can use.
One of the best things you can do to fully immerse yourself in a new place is to live like and/or with a local. It's a convenient compromise between the overpriced, impersonal stuffiness of a hotel and the lack of privacy from hostels if you're not about that summer-camp-style life. Airbnb functions like a Craigslist for travel accommodations — minus the creepiness. Once you're signed up, you can search for any place in the world where you'd like to travel, select how long you'd like to stay, and find someone to host you in their home. You can rent out anything from a room for the night, an entire apartment for the weekend, or a freaking castle for the month.
For real. I've had nothing short of beautiful experiences when using this travel service. From a traditional homemade French breakfast prepared for me by my host in Paris, who also gave me the best recommendations — to enjoying a luxurious condo with a view of the CN Tower in downtown Toronto for a ridiculously cheap price — this is a must-have app to download, or at the very least, site to check out when booking a place to stay.
I know when I'm booking flights, I'm always second guessing myself and wondering if I'm really taking advantage of the best possible options out there. Well here's an app that does that for you by helping you score the best deals on flights. Hopper uses data from billions of flights to accurately curate the optimal flight arrangements for your budget and destination. Once you've entered your travel info, Hopper gets down to business and notifies you the second it finds flights at their predicted lowest prices.
3. Field Trip
When running the Field Trip app in the background of your phone, it pretty much acts like your pocket tour guide. Any time you get close to something unique and interesting, it'll notify you. Whether you're passing a hidden historical gem with an intriguing story behind it or the best place to eat in that neighborhood, Field Trip will let you know what's up. You don't even have to be strolling the streets of Amsterdam to take advantage of all the benefits of this app. Use it the next time you're commuting to work or out shopping and see how many new places you may discover.
4. Google Translate
The days of frantically flipping through gigantic dictionaries just to figure out how to order a coffee to cure your jetlag are long gone — probably hanging out with the outdated travel guides, oversized maps, and yes, the good ole' yellow pages. While of course digital translators get a bad rap for not being totally accurate all the time, Google Translate does the job pretty well for the most basic and essential of your foreign language needs. The app allows you to type, speak, or even snap a photo of any text you'd like to translate, and lets you save some of your most used for future reference.
Not all of us were born with the almighty gift of being perfectly organized. For some of us, our idea of packing may include throwing whatever we see into our suitcases and hoping for the best. Either that, or spending hours pacing back and forth, wondering if we should pack more sweaters or light jackets, and if we'll really need those extra pair of boots. Luckily, PackPoint exists to figure out exactly what you should be packing. It bases its recommendations off your travel destination, the length of time, the weather, and any activities you plan on doing there. Neat, right?
Just when you thought there was no way to beat jet lag, researchers at the University of Michigan have developed Entrain, an app to conquer the crankiness and discomfort that can plague you at the beginning of your trip. Because you should be able to enjoy as much of your time as you can, fully present — not dozing off in front of awe-inspiring artwork and sleepwalking through some of the most beautiful streets in the world.
So how does it work? As explained on the site, Entrain connects users to lighting schedules that are mathematically proven to adjust you to new time zones as quickly as possible. Because light is what primarily drives our circadian clocks, by recording your lighting history, the app mimics your body's clock and tunes in to its behavior to make the best sleeping recommendations for you.
This is one of those apps I learned about that gave me that chilling feeling that I'm living in some futuristic world or that I've just been thrown into The Matrix. Wikitude is like Wikipedia that's come to life. Described as a tool that allows you to experience an augmented reality, all you have to do is turn on its camera feature, point your phone to whatever it is that's in front of you, and the app gives you information on what you're seeing.
8. XE Currency
Getting caught up in the excitement of exploring new places by eating, shopping, and adventuring your way through them, it can be easy to forget about the not-so-fun financial factors. Like that shirt you're eyeing that seems like a too-good-to-be-true deal may really not be the bargain you were hoping for when you really break down the math. To make sure you're not spending more than needed, it's good to have a basic understanding of the exchange rate wherever you may be traveling. The XE Currency app helps you stay on top of that money by keeping you updated with live rates, historical charts, and calculates prices on your phone. And of course, what's the good in a cost-saving money app if it isn't free?
As if figuring out how much you should tip in your own country wasn't hard enough, determining what's culturally appropriate elsewhere so you don't come across like some disrespectful, ignorant tourist can be pretty damn stressful. That's where the handy GlobeTipping app comes into play. So this is the only app on this list that isn't free, but for $0.99 it quickly and easily helps you figure out the proper etiquette and amount you should tip to avoid any awkward situations that may ruin what should have been a perfectly pleasant experience.
What travel list is complete without this critically-acclaimed travel service? In its easy-to-use app version, TripAdvisor gives you the standard professional travel recommendations for whatever you may need. It lets you browse tons of reviews, check out cool places near you, get the best booking advice, provides access to forums with frequently asked travel questions, and only runs the GPS whenever necessary so it doesn't totally drain your battery life.
11. Free Wi-Fi Finder
As much as we may hate to admit it, a lot can depend on a good Wifi connection, especially when traveling. Sure, it's cool to go off the grid and let the day take you wherever it may, but sometimes you need to look up train times pronto. Whenever you happen to find yourself in a tight bind that can only be cured by the 21st century's gift of wireless Internet, the Free Wi-Fi Finder app will tell you where you can find the nearest hotspots. And obviously, by some technological magic involving GPS and network triangulations, it works offline.
Should you take the train? Catch a local bus? Where even is the station and what is your stop? Or maybe you're better off renting a bike. For when you're at a total loss of the best possible way to get from point A to point B, Rome2rio is a great global trip planner that helps you weigh out your options. As recommended by Travel + Leisure's tech correspondent, Tom Samiljan, this app aggregates every possible method of transportation — flights, trains, local buses, taxis, ferries — and offers time and price estimates for each leg of your journey.
Feeling less stressed about your trip already, right?
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