The 21st century has provided us with some pretty cool things, computers, hipsters, root-beer beer, smartphones and apps for smartphones. On my first journey around the world I was introduced to some pretty handy apps and now when I travel I don’t leave without them, here are a few of my favorites:
1. Rick Steves’ audio Europe
I used this app countless times, while in a bus/train/ferry during travel I listen to the endless interviews with locals or historians of many of Europe’s cities. Another common use for this app is the self-guided walking tour with audio and a map, simply download the interview or self-guided walking tour while you have Wi-Fi and then you have it on hand any time you need it. Granted this will eat up some space on your smartphone, just delete the interviews or tours as you use them. A very informative FREE app for the knowledge seeking traveler that is available for most smartphones.
2. TripAdvisor mobile offline city guides
We all have at some point and time visited TripAdvisor and have personally experienced how amazing of a travel website it truly is. What they have done is some next level shit, offline city guides, yes, I said offline. How does it work? Download this app, available for IOS and Android, and simply download one of the 300+ cities offered by this app with more promised on the way. Once downloaded you can use your map and city guide offline, it will provide you with directions, distances to restaurants, bars, sites, shops, and it will even rank them via reviews placed by users of this app. When in Amsterdam I felt I was lost the entire time both physically and mentally, but once I discovered this app I would simply punch in the hostel name and it would give me detailed directions or even just point me in the right direction (not helpful in Amsterdam due to its canals) that I needed to go. Easily the most useful app I’ve had to date.
3. Use-it travel guides
Introduced to me last summer in Belgium this is your local guide of the city. Offering up loads of useful information such as food, bars, activities, cool hang outs or interesting things to see / do, its become a staple in my traveling app repertoire. Using this app I found myself spending less money and time on daily activities that were more or less just tourist traps. In Thessaloniki, Greece we went to a restaurant full of only locals with a menu only in Greek and when we got back to our Airbnb hosts place they were astonished that we knew of the restaurant because it was literally just a hole in the wall. Use-it travel guides will also provide you with info on where the locals hangout so you can submerse yourself in the culture very different from any other map you can get from your hostel or bed and breakfast. Available in over 40 different mostly smaller cities in Northern and Eastern Europe and expanding by the moment.
Whatsapp is the best communication app for travelers out there in my opinion. Its a cross platform mobile messaging app available for all smartphones and allows you to send text, pics, videos and audio all for FREE (for the first year then .99 per year after) using only a Internet connection (Wi-Fi). Whilst traveling nobody has a international phone and are unable to call or text each other so this is the next best option. I’m sure by now there are countless apps similar to this one but this is the most commonly used communication app by travelers and thus makes it invaluable.
This website recently added as an app, is a great way to travel Europe though it does require some work and time it can and will save you money allowing yourself to truly get immersed in the culture of the country your in. First used while traveling in Eastern Europe, I’ve now used this several times with many positive experiences and friends met with only one semi weird experience. I had a guy in Innsbruck, Austria who was super cool, but when I came home one night after exploring the city and enjoying some beer, beers, beers I found him knee deep in my rutsack. Though he didnt seem to think it was a big deal to be going through my stuff and even asking questions about my stuff it was enough to rub me wrong and make me unpack my stuff account for all of my belongs and then repack and leave later that night. This isn’t enough to deter me from continuing to couchsurfer as too many positive things have come out of it. Just recently I was able to land a couch in Thessalniki via another couchsurfer who had already secured a host and I was able to accompany him at the hosts flat. The best part of it was that we were able to have an authentic Greek style dish that you cant find in restaurants or tavernas. We were also located in a part of the city that most tourists don’t go allowing us yet another way to really see and enjoy the great Greek culture.