Whether travelling or sitting at home in front of the TV, our smart phones have become indispensable. Nowadays it is more likely than not that you will have access to WiFi or a stable data connection when overseas on one of our programmes and our phones are now more useful and valuable to us than ever.
There are still a few areas that give you the ability to take a complete break from technology, such as whilst trekking in Nepal, on our beach sites in Costa Rica or in the rain forests of Borneo, but pretty much everywhere else gives you the ability to stay in touch with life back home when you are overseas.
So, given that you will probably have access to the internet an in addition to all of your standard social media apps, what are the top travel apps that you should be looking to use in 2018? I’ve compiled this list based on apps that I love to use and others that I have found online. It’s split into two sections – 1) ‘planning and preparation’ and 2) ‘whilst travelling’ although any of the apps will have their uses at any time!
Planning and preparation
This is one of the best free language apps available, and I’ve tried a few! It’s always a really good idea to try to learn at least the basics of the local language. This app gives you the opportunity to learn the language ahead of your trip as well as the ability to access common phrases that you can use if you get stuck whilst travelling.
In 2016 Google launched their product ‘Google Trips’ which is an app that allows you to pull all of your travel details into one place. If you have a Gmail account, the app will automatically pull through your transport and hotel bookings, create a ‘trip’ and give you ideas on what to do whilst you are there. The app is even accessible offline meaning you can still use it when out of WiFi range.
I use this app to research flight routes and prices. It gives me a ball-park figure of what a flight should be costing me. I don’t book the flight through the app though, I would tend to book direct through the airline or through one of our partners at Flight Centre or STA.
Flight Radar 24
Being the resident flight geek in the office (we are travel company after all!), this has to be my favourite travel app. It allows you to track the route of any commercial plane in the air. Why is this useful, you might ask? Well, if you are due to meet a friend at the airport, you can see whether the flight has been delayed or running ahead of schedule. In the free version of the app you can get the history of the flight for the past 7 days, to get a sense of whether is generally on time or not. Another great feature is that you can see where your actual aircraft has travelled to in the past 7 days. Aircraft don’t just fly back and forth on the one route. The plane that you are sitting on ready for your flight to Vancouver, might have been in Delhi just hours before, and that’s fun to know, right?!
Another geeky one here, but incredibly useful! This travel app shows you the seating plan for the flight you are taking. Each seat has a review based on whether it is close to the toilet, bulkhead or has reduced leg room. Use this to choose your perfect seat!
Most airlines now have their own app. I recently used the BA app on a trip to the USA and it was brilliant. I was able to manage my booking, add passport information, choose my seat, check in and get my boarding card – all paper free and on my mobile. Too easy!
Here are the links to the BA app, other airlines are available!
Getting excited for your time away and want to read reviews from other travellers of hotels, hostels, restaurants and other tourist attractions? One word of caution, people are more likely to leave reviews if they have had a bad experience rather than a good one so take some with a pinch of salt!
This is one of the best apps on the market for giving travellers the ability to be as focused as they want on their hotel searches. You can choose to search exact locations, between certain price bands and to only show hotels that are available during your select dates. It’s really flexible and, I have found, often cheaper than booking direct through the hotel.
Granted, this is a social media app but what an invention this app is! You probably already have it and use it as your main method of communication between friends and family. Whatsapp really comes into its own when you are travelling. All you need is a WiFi connection and then you have the ability to text, send photos/videos and even video call to your friends back home for free!
Unsure how many Malaysian ringgit you can get to the pound? XE.com is a free and useful app that gives you a good indication of what the current exchange rate. You can find out the exchange rate between any two currencies, not just from GBP.
(By the way, the answer is about 5.4 ringgit to the pound, if you were wondering)
Heading to a city and looking to travel around? Find the best and most efficient ways to travel cities around the world using Citymapper. This app will allow you to plan your route from one side of the city to another, using trains, underground/metro, buses and taxis.
There are loads of weather apps to choose from, most are free and some are paid-for. I’ve never personally paid for a weather app and always found the BBC one to give me a good idea of the weather where I’m going. If you can find a weather app that specialises in the country you are going to, you should get a more localised and accurate forecast. The BBC app is UK based but I can usually find a city or region close to where I will be travelling to. Links below are to the BBC weather app.
Mobile banking is becoming really popular on smart phones and especially useful when travelling. At your finger tips you can transfer money between accounts, pay bills and even transfer money to friends if you need to. Having the app version is so much easier than having to remember lots of passwords to access the bank website.
To get the right app for your account, just search online with the name of your bank and ‘app’. This should be easy to find if one exists!
Top Tip – get your apps installed an in order before you leave home, whilst you have reliable WiFi.
Top Tip 2 – remember that not all apps will be available in the countries you plan to visit, so make sure you do your research before you go.
We wrote a blog about our favourite travel apps a couple of years ago. Some of these remain on our list as they have been updated and are even more useful than they were. You can delve into to the history books and check out our favourite apps of 2016.
What other travel apps do you use? Let us know if you’ve got a favourite that should be mentioned and we will check it out!