Okay, maybe I would survive, after all I traveled for 9 years before I had a smartphone. However, in this technologically advanced day and age, I take as much advantage as I can of these magical little things known as “apps.” There is a plethora of life-changing apps in the travel industry, and today I want to share some of my favorite travel apps with you. The best part about the apps in my list? They’re all FREE.
This app truly is magic. With GateGuru, you can look up any major airport in the world and view real-time departure, arrival, and gate details for all flights. You can see if a flight is delayed, has landed, is boarding, is on-time, or is cancelled, etc. That is beyond convenient in itself, but that’s not all this app offers! You can look up the terminal you are in to see what restaurants, shops, bars, and other amenities are near you. You can view amenities throughout the entire airport, so if you are really craving a specific cuisine or perhaps are in need of a sports bar, you can use the app to find out where these venues are located. Genius.
For the mathematically challenged (like me), this app is a lifesaver. I highly recommend the XE Currency app to anyone who has pulled $8 out of an ATM when you meant to withdraw $200. You can read that story here. With XE Currency, you can choose any foreign currency you want, type in an amount, and it will give you the equivalent of that amount in any other currency that you need. It’s better than a calculator because it already knows the actual exchange rate. It updates the exchange rates every time you open the app with a Wi-Fi connection. It doesn’t get any easier to calculate foreign currency than with XE Currency.
I used to use an app you may have heard of called “Around Me” and as much as I wanted it to work, it just never delivered on its promises. I have found a solution to that problem, and it’s called YP, as in, Yellow Pages. I know, sounds super old school, right? Well, YP is anything but old school. It’s an incredible app that populates restaurants, gas stations (with prices!), all kinds of services, churches, coffee houses, lodging, shopping, recreation, and much more in your surrounding area. It offers price ranges, menu items, and even coupons. The only downside to this app is that it only works in the US, but it’s great for Stateside travel!
This is my most favorite app. It is a walkie-talkie app that you can use with others who have Voxer. You can talk into it or send texts or photos through it. It works on Wi-Fi, and it doesn’t have to be real-time. So if I’m in Asia and it’s the middle of the night in Seattle when I use Voxer to leave a walkie-talkie voice message for a friend, she can get it and respond whenever it’s convenient for her. Many compare it to Skype, but it has a very different function. With Voxer you don’t have to both be signed in at the same time to talk, you can send and receive voice messages, texts, and photos whenever it fits into your schedule, all for free.
When I need to arrange my accommodations as I go, I use the Booking.com app. Booking.com is my go-to website for hotels because it offers the best prices. The app is user-friendly and has all the same functions as the website. One time in Bali, we went to a hotel we found on Booking.com and they quoted us a price that was $100 higher than the price we had seen online. We excused ourselves for 5 minutes, used the hotel’s free Wi-Fi to book the better price on my Booking.com app, waited for the reservation to go through, and saved $100 on the spot. The hotel staff even served us welcome drinks while we waited!
This is my go-to hostel-finder. I usually search both Booking.com and Hostelworld to make sure I see all available options and prices. The Hostelworld app is very user-friendly and reliable. Normally, I would use Hostelworld.com to search because I prefer its user interface over other hostel-finder websites, but I usually book with Hostels.com because they waive the booking fee when you enter your email address. However, Hostels.com doesn’t have an app, so Hostelworld wins this one. Budget tip: If you will be booking many hostels on your trip, sign up for a Hostelworld Gold Card to waive the booking fees: $10 and good for one year.
I used this app the most on my honeymoon because we were in search of unique, boutique experiences rather than traditional hotels at every stop (we made plenty of stops across 3 countries). What we found on Airbnb was not offered on Booking.com or Hostelworld, so it opened up a whole new set of options for us. The only drawback to using Airbnb is that the booking fee is much too high. Rather than a flat rate, it is calculated as a percentage of how much you spend on your reservation. I didn’t like paying it, but I liked the options we found through the app, so I still recommend it if you’re looking for a unique experience.
Click here to save $55 on your first Airbnb stay.
I love having these apps at my fingertips, and I hope they will serve you as well as they serve me. As long as apps are out there (especially free ones!) we may as well be using them. What are your favorite travel apps? Have you discovered any gems out there that you can’t live without? Please share in the comment section below!