As you may have noticed, I have been travelling a lot this year, at least once or twice every month. It was my main goal for 2015 to travel more and one the reasons why I left my full time job at the end of last year, so I am pretty chuffed with it!
Even though I may be visiting a different country every month, I still don’t feel like a “seasoned traveller”. You know one of those people who can pack a suitcase in ten minutes, get to the airport on time and – ultimately – be on a plane without having stomach jitters. I am still not quite there yet. I will probably never get over the stress, but being well organised before and on the trip helps me manage it.
There are a few apps that I rely on to make my trips easier, whether it is searching for things to do / restaurants / accommodation before I depart, finding my way around a new city or meeting up people who live locally.
1. Google Maps
This is an obvious one, but who doesn’t have the Google Maps app downloaded on their smartphones? It’s definitely the most popular navigation app and one I use on a daily basis to find out where I need to go for my next appointment. You can create personalised maps by dropping pins to mark landmarks and places of interest, then make it available offline to access at any time during your trip.
Citymapper is a great app to find out how to get from A to B in the easiest / fastest way. It calculates different travel routes depending on whether you are driving a car, cycling, walking, or taking public transport. I use Google Maps more often to locate a specific place on the map, but I use Citymapper to calculate how to get there easier and faster.
If my trip is to a big city in Europe or even around the world, I always create a personal guide on my Stay.com app before I go. I love this app because you can get many tips from “local experts” on things to do, places to see, restaurants and cafes to try in your chosen destination. For all the 150 city maps available on Stay, there are bespoke guides written by local bloggers and influencers: best brunch spots in London, or a Vegetarian guide to Amsterdam, or Top 10 museums in Paris, and so on. I have followed their recommendations many times and I have never been disappointed.
I have been a regular user of AirBNB for around three years and an AirBNB host for one year. I usually book just a private room and what I love about it is having the chance to meet the hosts and getting city tips directly from people who live in it. The AirBNB app is very well designed and I use it a lot to connect with my hosts before and after I check in.
There is a lot to say about how trustworthy Tripadvisor reviews are, but it’s undeniable that this app is a great resource for tips on hotels, restaurants, guided tours and so on when you travel. I don’t use the app very often as I usually try to get recommendations from bloggers and influencers before I depart (and then add the places I want to try onto my Stay guide). But there are some countries where Tripadvisor is simply the only website available to find food reviews. It happened to me in Iceland, where I had to rely on Tripadvisor a lot and having the iPhone app is definitely a lot easier than browsing the desktop version.
The app I use the most generally, but particularly when I travel, is Instagram. This app is so much more than just a photo-sharing space, it’s a real community of people that has changed my life in more ways I thought possible. I have met friends, worked on exciting campaigns and been on trips, all through Instagram. It’s also a great source of wanderlust! A recent app update means that you can now search photos by “places” which is very useful to choose a holiday destination and plan your trip. What I also use a lot is the search by geotag: if I know one of my Instagram friends has been to a certain city or country in the last few years, I can open their profile and click on the geotag icon to see all the photos they posted from there. I have used this option a lot to find specific corners of Iceland or Norfolk.
The Steller app is another great source of wanderlust, with so many beautiful travel stories available to browse. I originally downloaded Steller last year, but only recently got back to it after meeting an American photographer who is making a living out of creating Steller and Instagram content for brands. I realized that Steller is a great way to choose travel destinations and, more specifically, to find out cute hotels or restaurants around the world.
The Dropbox app is another app I use regularly, almost daily. I find it really useful to transfer photos I have taken with my smartphone to my computer to use for a blog post. When it comes to my job, I use Dropbox to deliver images to my clients after a photoshoot. I keep those folders in my Dropbox for months, just in case someone asks for them again. The app comes really handy when, let’s say, I am on the beach in Formentera and a client wants me to send them a restaurant photo I took weeks before. I also store my travel documents on Dropbox, like boarding passes, hotel bookings, and even a copy of my passport (obviously these files are private and not shared with anyone).
9. Snapseed / VSCO
Clearly these are not travel apps, but they are apps I use a lot when I am travelling. I edit all my iPhone photos with Snapseed, then apply a VSCO filter (my favourites are F2 and LV1) before uploading the photo on Instagram. You can find out more about the best Holiday Photography Apps on the Expedia blog.
It’s always good to have a taxi app installed on your smartphone, because even though you may travel by public transports 99% of the time (like I do), you just never know when you may need a taxi to get somewhere quick. Not a lot of cities have Uber, but they might have an equivalent like Hailo or Gett. It’s useful to have one of these apps installed before your trip.
These are the apps I regularly use and would recommend to you, but of course there are many more travel apps available online. I think every app will suit different people and their needs, so it’s just a case of finding the right ones for you.
While I was researching for this post, friends have recommended me a couple of apps I had never heard of, including Everplaces, Roadtrippers and Tripit. I have downloaded them and I will give them a try over the next few weeks!
Disclaimer: this post was written in collaboration with Expedia Blog. All opinions are my own.