Have app, will travel.

The world is getting smaller and travelling is getting easier. Or is it?

Technology is advancing fast and so is our desire of finding new ways to push it even further. Countless mobile phone apps are available to do myriad things, from booking flights to comparing hotel rates to keeping track of your expenses. As you read this, a new travel app is being developed for a traveller like you by someone who saw the same challenges you faced in planning your trip.

With so many apps available, selecting the ones best suited for your style of travel requires some research, some testing, some patience and of course some adventure. Here are some of the travel apps I use (in no particular order):

  1. Google Translate

Okay, there is no co-incidence I began with this. With only around 20% of the world’s population speaking English proficiently, this app takes out the guesswork out of translating foreign words and phrases. The app also lets you point your camera at text you need translated – whether it’s a street signs, restaurant menu, foreign currency or a brochure. Not only is this nifty app free but it also works online saving you costly roaming data charges.

(Image source: Google Blog)

Ease of use: Very easy
Suggested use: Non-English speaking countries
Drawback: Limited languages available (for now), dictionary data need to be pre-downloaded

  1. Google Trips

Let’s face it, Google maps is probably the most resourceful trip planner ever. With Google trips, this planning just got an adrenaline injection. Using input from you and suggested day-plans, it maps out trips of varying length with suggestions for things to see and do. Whether it’s a hidden out of the way café or a famous beach, Google Trips shows you everything to do near and far, while on your way there and back. This app also pairs with and gathers all your travel information from Gmail and Inbox, organizing it automatically – available for you any time, offline or online.

Ease of use: Fairly easy
Suggested use: Short city breaks, business travel
Drawback: Not ideal for lengthy trips or backpackers

  1. XE Currency App

Popularly known for its accurate online currency converter application and exchange rate information, XE.com ranks as one of the top 500 sites worldwide by traffic. While the app only works online, it saves recent currency rates when connected allowing you to use it offline the rest of the day. It is very quick and allows you to set multiple conversions at the same time.

Ease of use: Very easy
Suggested use: Foreign currency calculation to home/other currency
Drawback: Requires internet connection at least once or twice a day to allow refreshing of exchange rates

  1. Uber

While Uber is still spreading its wings all over the world, their services are available in most major cities globally. Using your phones GPS, it finds a driver nearest to you who then takes you to your destination. With a real time map, not only can you track your driver as he makes his way to you but also as you make your way to your destination. The app stores your payment information and even emails you your receipt – great for cashless travel in new cities.

Ease of use: Very easy
Suggested use: Any cab related travel
Drawback: Requires internet connection, requires credit/debit card, limited to a few cities/countries

  1. Rome2Rio

Let me begin by saying, I came across this app quite recently and I feel like I have been living under a rock all this time. This app is so simple that it makes every app maker ever feel stupid for not coming up with this before. How it works?  Feed in Point A, feed in Point B and hit search. The app will show you (in a number of currencies) how to get from A to B by bus, bike, car, plane, boat, foot, gondola, by anything and economically to boot.

Ease of use: Very easy
Suggested use: Every aspect of trip planning
Drawback: Requires internet connection

6. Airbnb

Irrespective of your travel style, basic, budget or splurge, where you sleep makes or breaks the trip. This app lets you select residential properties over the traditional hotel stay. Airbnb is a peer-to-peer marketplace and requires both host and guest to register using valid credentials (including a government issued form of identification). Every listed property includes the host’s profile, recommendation by other users, reviews by other guests, host responsiveness and the letting rate. Whether you want to book a houseboat in Amsterdam or a Riad in Morocco, Airbnb has it all.

Ease of use: Fair
Suggested use: Accommodation planning
Drawback: Requires internet connection

While there are a myriad of apps available, these are my personal favourites. What travel apps would you recommend? Leave a comment below.

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