Like most people, whenever we travel, our smartphones always come with. It’s like a personal travel agent in your pocket. With all the millions of apps in the App Store you can have everything you need to make your travels go smoothly all on one device. We are going to share with you some of the apps that we use all the time when we travel and maybe help you make your travels go a little easier.
We looked long and hard for a good map app and honestly there just isn’t anything that can beat Google Maps. Google Maps can even be used offline if you plan ahead and download the area you are concerned with ahead of time. To download maps offline here are the steps:
Open Google Maps > click the three horizontal lines in the top left > click offline maps > click custom map > move screen to the area you want to download > click download
When traveling in a new city this is especially helpful when wanting to find landmarks, facilities, or just get directions. If you have something that beats Google Maps let us know, we’re always open to trying new things.
Being the points family that we are, we are often in airports with lounges that we have access to. Lounges are great because they provide you with a space to relax and get away from the chaos of the airport prior to your flight. They also usually provide complimentary food and drinks (sometimes alcohol is included) which is always appreciated rather than buying the overpriced, poor quality food on the flight.
LoungeBuddy is great because it will tell you exactly what lounge you have access to whether it’s before you take off or after you land. After you create an account you will have to provide some basic personal information like your name, home airport and email address. The best thing about LoungeBuddy is that you can also input your airline elite statuses, lounge memberships, credit cards you have, and whether or not you’re an active US Military member. This is where LoungeBuddy really shines because after you put that information in it will always tell you exactly which lounge in which airport you have access to and whether the access is free or paid and whether you will be able to bring in guests or not and if they are free or paid.
Basically, any time we are traveling, I always look up the airports we will be in to see which lounges we have access to because, especially traveling with kids, they can be a life saver pre-flight.
If you are interested in knowing more about getting lounge access, it’s very easy and comes as a perk with some credits cards. Check out the Business Platinum and Platinumcards from American Express for unlimited lounge access as long as the card is active.
Okay, in all honesty, we just got this app today and it’s already a favourite. For being a LoungeBuddy member we both got codes to download up to $9.99 worth of TripScout cities and we love it.
How it works is you download the app for free then just pay per city map that you want. In each city map you will have all the popular shops, parks, restaurants, monuments, even Instagrammable locations mapped out for you already. Plus, you can download everything so it is available offline including directions from your location to whatever destination you choose (has to be one on their map). Sam got two codes so for our trip we downloaded Paris, Athens, and Santorini. There are some things on here that we didn’t even know about from our Google searches so it seems to really be worth it.
Sam’s favourite feature is that you can sort what you want to see on the map through their filters. If you only want the map to shore restaurants you can do that. If you only want to see the monuments you can choose that. This way it doesn’t get overwhelming. This app is quickly making our trip planning a lot easier.
We don’t always stay in luxury hotels when we travel so it’s really nice to have the AirBnB app on hand. Often times, depending on the city you’re in, you can get some really awesome deals staying in other people’s places and AirBnB is the best way to do so. When we traveled to New York City last year, we stayed in a basement suite in Brooklyn for only $108/night when everything else was easily over $150/night and hotels were well into the $200+ range. Plus, it’s really cool to use AirBnB for your accommodations sometimes because you can get some really unique places to stay in that a hotel would never offer.
WD My Cloud is how we store all of our photos. Taking photos is one of the things we love to do, as you can tell from our Instagram account, so rather than taking up all the space on our phone or our laptop, we needed somewhere to store all of them. Enter, WD My Cloud. This device plugs into your WiFi router and acts as a cloud storage device. Since it’s connected to WiFi (by being connected to your router) it can be accessed from anywhere that you have an internet connection. Even in our day to day living we upload to the device often to minimize the space our photos take up on our devices. Since the WD My Cloud is 2 Terabytes of storage, we are not worried about running out of space anytime soon.
This device is great because all we need is internet to move photos. So, even when we’re abroad, once we get a WiFi connection, we upload the days worth of photos. The device doesn’t just store photos, it can store anything you upload to it whether that’s videos, documents or other information.
Before we post to Instagram, most of our photos get an edit. Lightroom CC is our favourite app to do that with. In our opinion, it gives the widest variety of things to do with your photo. For those with a little bit of experience in photo editing, the one thing we love most about Lightroom CC is the ability to edit hue, saturation, and luminance of colours. We have found that this is not available as a free option on any of the other photo editing apps. Adobe is by far the leader in photo editing, so why not use their app for that as well?
If you want to do things like edit RAW photos or sync with your desktop version of Lightroom, you’ll need to have an Adobe Creative Cloud CC membership. That is not free, but for what we use it for, it is a great app and it does everything we need and it does it the best.
If you aren’t already aware, we love deals. Any chance we get to save money we take. Groupon is a company that allows businesses to promote their company by offering their services at a discount on Groupon. As a consumer, this is great because you often get activities, restaurants, and services at a great rate and the quality is often still very high. Whenever we travel to a new city we always check out what that city has on Groupon. More often than not, we find a great deal on something, usually a restaurant or a local activity.
We love Spotify. We use it all the time. We use it in our house. We use it in our car. We use it whenever we need a musical fix. We have the paid version because we like to be able to download playlists and have them available to us offline. This is great when you’re on a plane or in a city where you don’t have WiFi/data to use. There are many apps out there that allow you to play music, Spotify is our favourite.
Then there are the apps we only use sometimes:
It seems like Google has their hand in everything these days and whenever they have their technology in a sector they seem to do it really well. This is the case with Google Translate as well. We will soon be in Europe where not everyone will always speak English, though most tourist cities you can usually find someone who does, and this app will likely come in handy.
Lyft and Uber are the two most well known ride share companies. Since we don’t have Lyft or Uber in Vancouver, we don’t keep these apps on our phone. But when we travel, we’re usually in a city that does have them so we will download them. Whenever we need to get somewhere, these are our go to. We seem to use Lyft more only because they usually have more coupon codes that we can use but we have used both and they both get the job done well.
This is a program that we mostly use on desktop but they do have an app that works just as well. SeatGuru is great because it tells you where the best spot to sit on your plane is. Are you going to be too close to the lavatory and have lots of foot traffic go by? Is your seat missing a window? Is your seat cramped because of the curvature of the airplane? All of these questions are answered on SeatGuru. When booking a flight, it is our go to before we decide which seats to reserve.
HotelTonight is an app that allows you to book a hotel room last minute at a discount. You can book anytime between that day and 7 days out. The hotels they offer are usually very quality hotels and almost always are at a discount compared to rate directly through the hotel, sometimes as high as 50% off. This is a great app if you’re in a city and need a hotel room last minute. The only downside of the app is that it does not offer any hotels in Asia, but other than that we can’t find anything negative about the app.
Lastly, there are the apps that we are yet to try but sound really helpful:
PackPoint is a packing list app. You input your destination and dates of travel and based on your information it will provide a packing list specific to your destination and time of year that you are in that destination. You can also add information like why you’re going there or what you plan to do there and it will make suggestions to add to your packing list based on what you’ve said. We haven’t tried it yet but this could be a great app to try on our upcoming Europe trip.
While Google Maps is usually pretty good at finding the best route on transit sometimes it’s better to use an app that strictly does one thing and hopefully they do it well. Citymapper is a transit app that gets you from A to B only using transit. This can be especially helpful when in another city and are looking to use transit. Think of cities like New York City, Boston, Paris, Tokyo, cities with large and expansive transit systems that can seem overwhelming. We will be putting it to the test for the first time when we head over to Europe, Paris specifically, and hopefully it does the job well. Citymapper is also available offline which is extremely useful when you don’t have WiFi or don’t want to eat your data.
Have you ever really had to go but didn’t know where the closest free washroom was? Or better yet have you ever had a kid who really had to go but didn’t know where to take them? On our recent trip to Bali, we first encountered having to pay to use the washroom. While it was usually only cents to go, it was still a paid service which we weren’t used to. SitorSquat shows you where the public washrooms are around you and whether they’re “sit” which means they’re clean or “squat” which means you might just wanna squat.
WiFi Map is a lot like SitorSquat except for WiFi. Sometimes you just need access to WiFi whether it’s to lookup where you’re going, find a place to eat or just catch up on your Instagram. WiFi Map shows you all the networks around you that you can access. They are either free or if a password is required, the app will tell you what the password is. This is very very useful when you’re in a foreign city and the only WiFi you have access to is the one at the hotel. Now, you can access everything you need from wherever you are. You can also download the WiFi maps of the cities you will be in ahead of time if you don’t have internet access to check where the free WiFi is.
Those are the apps we use and the ones we are looking forward to using.
What are your favourite apps to use when traveling?
Never stop adventuring!