My Favorite Travel Apps
Your phone is going to be your best friend while traveling. Of course, the main goal of a trip is not to miss out on the little moments, engage in real life and appreciate the surroundings around you. But it's important to take advantage of the time we live in and the resources we have.
I’ve mapped out my most used and most helpful apps below. Everything is contingent on how you end up traveling, where you end up staying and where you end up going, but they are all a helpful to have.
Hostelworld - I stay in hostels for most all of my trips. At first it was a decision made solely on budget, but after my first stay in a hostel, it became my preference. Hostels are where I made almost all of my friends during my journey. Travelers that occupy hostels range anywhere from 18 to 35 years old. They have been, or are, traveling for long periods of time and are extremely friendly and open to meeting new people!
The people you meet in a hostel can help you find cool, interesting places to go at your current location, and even give you some insight and inspiration in choosing your next destination. There's a laundry list of other benefits I find with hostels. Check it out below.
-Tour & Attraction Booking Right at the Front Desk
-Toiletries for Purchase
-Breakfast at Low Cost (Sometimes Free Dinner, too!)
-Common Area to Meet Others
-Drinking Games at Night
-Organized Group Bar Crawls
-Maps of the Cities
BENEFITS Of A Hostel
Again, all of the above vary depending on what hostel you stay in, but when booking you want to make sure you read the reviews and the description of the hostel. It should tell you in the description what the accommodation has to offer and what they charge a fee for, compared to what comes free with booking.
The Hostelworld App makes booking and searching for hostels super easy. You can save your credit card info on the site for fast and easy reservations. It will take a deposit for the room. Depending on the price of the reservation, this deposit could typically range from 2-4 dollars for a $10-$15/a night room. Upon arrival you pay the rest.
When searching for a hostel, always read the reviews. This is SUPER important! Any hostel with a rating of 8.0 and above, you can't go wrong with. But you always want to see how many reviews the hostel has. The reviews from the previous guests will give you a good feel for what the vibe of the hostel will be, and what to expect upon arrival. This app will also save your last holiday accommodations, making it easy to refer back to past places you have stayed, and to rebook upon return!
Google/Google Maps: Google maps will be a lifesaver when it comes to getting around. I used this to navigate all through the subway systems, trains and busses. The way it works for example, If you put in from: Hostel One homes to Dog Bar downtown, it will map out the exact train route, giving you the train number to take, the direction, what time your subway will arrive, how many stops... and more. I used the subway/train/bus system all through Europe and I walked. It's even super helpful when you are walking. It highlights you as a blue dot, and uses the phones compass to point you in the right direction while you’re walking and to assure that you’re walking the correct way.
Uber isn't allowed in some parts of Europe. And, be careful with cabs. Sometimes cabs will take advantage of you if you don't speak the language... specially in France or Spain. My experiences have been good in Eastern Europe. If you are going to use a cab, be sure you have cash on you, and ask the price before you get in.
I still prefer and recommend using public transportation. It's cheaper and it gives you a feel of how to navigate the city.
Google Translate - This app provides many outlets to make traveling easier. When downloaded on your phone, it gives you the ability to enter a word or phrase, and it will auto detect the language and translate. With Google Translate you are also able to take photos of signs, menus, letters and more; highlight the text, and the app will translate the words right off of the photo. This app also allows you to vocally translate using your phone's speaker and the app will read it back out-loud in the desired language.
Vrbo/AirBNB/HomeAway - These apps allow you to rent out privately-owned homes. They are typically investment properties, or second homes people rent out to us as travelers. My favorite part of these apps is the fact that they offer so many varying types of accommodations, from whole house rentals, to renting out a room in a home where the owners are still residing.
These apps have become so popular over the past few years that you can find accommodations almost anywhere. The draw and benefit to apps like these is the potential of finding a really cool, unique home. They are also beneficial when traveling in large groups. Pricing may be higher, but you can easily fit 4-10 people in a house, and much less costly than a hotel.
I used these apps a lot when hostels were hard to find in the area I was visiting. But, recently, I have become less and less satisfied. The price you find the property listed at, will increase exponentially at checkout due to a variety of fees that have increased over the years. Because of this, I tend to "shop around" on other accommodation apps such as HotelTonight (see more info below).
Varying Airline Apps - After my most recent trip during the Covid-19 pandemic, I cannot stress the importance of this! For booking flights, I previously relied heavily on "Google Flights", which is an amazing app, except not during a global pandemic. It's not often you find yourself stuck in a global pandemic, but when I was, google flights came up short.
When searching on Google for flights, it generates the the best possible price. But when you select the flight, you'll find it generated that price off of a third party booking company such as Expedia or Orbitz.
Now in some cases this is okay, but up until a few trips ago, I had a few nightmares using third party booking sites. Ever since then, I personally don't like to book with them.
So whats the problem with searching on google flights and selecting the airlines option?
I found most times, when you follow the link to the airlines page VIA google flights, the flight is either unavailable or set at a completely different price. Why this happens? I'm not too sure. It either has to do with a delay in information to google regarding that flight, or some other inaccurate glitch on googles end.
"Don't get me wrong, I still always use google flights, but I'm more mindful of reading the fine print and doing my research on the popular airlines in the country I am visiting to ensure I always book right with that airline."
Units Plus - This app is GOLD. I can't tell you enough of how often you'll find yourself using this. It helped me out many times when I needed to convert meters into feet, and to convert currency values while shopping. This app works offline so you should not have any issues using this whenever and wherever.
HotelTonight - Every now and then hostels can be pretty exhausting. You're going to want a night to relax by yourself. Every once in a while, I like to treat myself to a nice hotel during my travels. In this case, I typically book through HotelTonight. I find they have the best, last minute rates, on hotels and is the easiest process to book! You are able to save your credit card info right on the app for quick and easy booking.