If you’re like me and you don’t fancy installing many apps on your old mobile phone then you’re in the right place. In my experience of travelling I’ve tried many apps and reduced them to the essential.
Best navigation apps
This one seems pretty obvious but it’s really a lifesaver if you use it at its full potential. It’s also very convenient to discover local tips thanks to their attractions lists.
Basically there are two things you want to do:
- Download the map of the areas you’ll be visiting so that you can access it offline
- Create a list where you will add all the places you want to visit
Anyone living in any major city will tell you how indispensable this app is. Check on their website if any of the cities you’ll be visiting is covered by their service and download it.
It’s very easy to use: set a starting point and a destination and it will calculate the best routes to go from A to B, offering several combinations of bus and metro, cost of a trip and a very accurate arrival time of whatever means of transport you need to take.
Pro-tip: if you are not sure if you’ll have internet access load your trip beforehand (for example from the airport to your hotel) and save the screenshots so that you can easily arrive at destination.
Best accommodation apps
Depending on how you booked your accommodation you might want to install the relevant apps, but here I’ll list the two apps which I’ve used tested and approved. They’re reliable not only when you booked a room in advance, but also in case of an emergency or a last minute booking.
This one needs no introduction. This is the site where we usually find the cheapest accommodation, and the wider choice. The app is very handy for storing your booking confirmation, communicating with the property and getting in touch with the assistance in case of doubts or problem.
Follow this link to get access to special rates: https://www.booking.com/
It started out as a “couchsurfing with money” and turned out to be a huge – and controversial – company. I support a stricter legislation on how Airbnb is used, lest it contributes to the death of cities as we are seeing in Venice and Barcelona, but it offers good opportunities to share a flat with locals and be immersed in the local culture. It also features experiences which are a good way to visit a city with someone who know it well, being part of a small sustainable tour group.
Sign up following this link to receive up to €40/£35/$40 for your next trip: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/c/rfumagalli
Bike Sharing apps
Bike sharing schemes are almost in every big city now, it’s a great way to stay fit while visiting, to explore areas you wouldn’t normally see using public transport and, possibly, save money.
City bike sharing apps
Every major city – like London, Paris or Milan – have their own bike share. They tend to differ a lot, so I suggest you to visit our bike sharing page for more details, but they tend to be more convenient if you purchase a pass rather than going for single trips.
The orange-grey Mobike bicycles are a regular fixture of many city streets. Unlike the standard shared bike, which can be found – and need to be returned – anchored to a dock station, these bikes are scattered everywhere. You pick one up, use it and leave anywhere. This means that you are not always sure of where to find one but you can leave it anywhere you like it when done.
Mobike charges a standard service fee (which is usually €1/£1) every 20 minutes. So keep an eye on the watch while riding and plan your route carefully.
Ofo and others
For the sake of completeness I thought I should mention Ofo. It’s the yellow bikes service that tried to compete with Mobike (in the UK, at least) and failed, thus retiring from the market. Other companies have had the same poor results and, it saddens me to say, vandalism played a big part of it. Yes, because some people enjoyed throwing those bikes in canals, stealing them or just smashing them up, you will no longer be able to enjoy that service.
Everyone must have used Google translate at least once in their lives. Not everyone knows that it’s also available as app!
Install it and make sure you download the language you need so that you can use it offline. It is not impeccable but it’s good enough for words and short sentences. You can also use a voice translator and also the photo translation service, incredibly useful for restaurant menus and product labels.
Expense tracking app
Created as an app to split expenses, Splitwise is a great app to track expenses with travelling. When using it with only two people is basically an electronic replacement of the traditional pen an paper, but it’s with parties of three people or more that Splitwise does its best. It automatically calculates who-owns-who taking in account unbalanced expenses and costs.
Whenever you are flying make sure you install the app of the company you are using. Not only you can have the boarding pass on your phone without having to print it, but it’s often easier and faster to check-in with the app rather than on the website.
Noise reduction app
Ok this is not an essential travel app but I know many of you out there will thank me for this. After installing the “White Noise” app (iPhone, Android, full version available for just €1.09) my travel experience drastically changed. Not only you can blast white noise in your ears but you can also select from a list of soothing noises… and even combine them together to create your own personal mix.
No more screaming babies on a plane, no more people crunching crisps and apples near you on a train. This is definitely my favourite travel app!