Remember the time when we used to fuss around with actual paper maps while driving towards our holiday destination? Or when Google Maps just had just taken off and you had to print out your itinerary, which often resulted in dozens of loose papers that then got messed up, resulting in endless disputes? Luckily, those days are far behind us right now. With the arrival of the smartphone, travelling certainly got a lot easier. And not only when it comes to navigating.
Aside from Google Maps and Waze, there are certain travel-friendly apps we all know about. We keep in touch via WhatsApp, take a look at TripAdvisor to know where to eat at night and instantly share our memories on Instagram. Yet there is more. A lot more. I took a look at my phone and realized I have quite the collection of handy apps that I use all the time during my travels. So I selected my five favorites to make your life a little easier.
1. For Budgeting: Trail Wallet
As far as budgeting apps go, we all know Tricount. Very useful if you want to share your expenses but it does not really help you get an overview of where exactly your money went. In that case, you are better off with Trail Wallet. This nifty little app lets you enter all your costs and divides them into categories such as ‘accommodation’ or ‘transport’. At the end of your trip, you know exactly how much you have spent and on what. My weak spot? Food. Definitely. It may also be useful to keep an eye on your expenses during your holiday so you do not get home to a huge credit card bill you did not consciously sign up for. Let’s face it: it is nice to let yourself be surprised while on holiday but not in that way.
Trail Wallet is free for the first 25 entries, after that you pay €5,49 for an unlimited upgrade. It is only available on iOS
2. For hiking and cycling: MapOut
We already spoke about paper maps before. Even though they are charming, they are not exactly user-friendly. Especially when you go hiking, you want your maps to be very detailed, which often means you will need several of them if you plan a long trip. Yet if you have a smartphone, there are other options out there. The one I personally like the most is MapOut. Contrary to a lot of other apps in the same category, you just have to pay €5,49 once and that is it. Afterwards, you simply download those regions on the map which you wish to access while being offline and then you are good to go. If you have a look at their maps, you will see that even the tiniest paths are on there, next to well-known walking routes and useful tourist information. You can easily draw your own route and MapOut will then show you the length and altitude change of your itinerary. No matter where you are, this is definitely your best bet as far as maps go.
MapOut costs €5,49 and is available only on iOS
3. For the tired traveler: Timeshifter
Some people are great with jetlags, others not so much. If you belong to the latter, welcome to the club. Luckily, there is an app which can make your life a lot easier. Do not bother installing this once you have landed; Timeshifter needs time to work. This app is based on a bunch of the latest sleep and circadian neuroscience and will guide you through your time shift in an entirely personalized way. First, you indicate where you will be going. Timeshifter then calculates the time difference and will start preparing you by telling you when to get some sunlight, when to drink coffee, when to sleep… All of that in order to reduce your jetlag to the bare minimum. The suggestions are sometimes a bit rough, yet if you can follow them, then this is a great app for you – thank me later.
4. For an organized trip: TripIt
Boarding passes, travel insurance, rental car contracts… It can be quite the challenge to not lose one of the many documents you need on your trip. You know they are somewhere amongst the thousands of e-mails in you inbox, yet where? On top of that, you may not always be able to access your mails whil offline and now five minutes have passed and that receptionist definitely is not looking happy. If you recognize these situations, TripIt may just be your best partner in crime to keep everything safe, sound and organized. As soon as you book a room or anything else related to your trip, you mail the document to TripIt and they then add it to your itinerary. By doing so, little by little, you will get a clear view of your holiday. If you are a frequent traveler, you may even be interested in switching to TripIt Pro, which means you will get a fully personal service in return to make sure you get the most out of your trip.
5. For local hotspots: Spotted by Locals
When preparing for a trip, there is a lot of information to deal with. Whether it is offline or online, there are thousands of different sources you can turn to to prepare your next holiday. If you cannot be bothered by large tourist crowds and if you want to know where the locals hang out, have a look at Spotted by Locals. They offer city guides in more than 80 destinations all over the world, which are assembled in their easy to use app and on their website. You can organize the results by category or see whatever spot is closest to you on the very detailed city maps. Whether you are looking for the best fish and chips in London or a great little souvenir shop in Yerevan: there is definitely something for everyone. And as if that were not enough, you can even add your own spots to the city map in order to assemble everything in one place. Every city purchase comes with lifelong free updates so you will not be stuck with outdated opening hours or addresses which no longer exist.