One of the scariest things about travel is the unknown. In fact, that’s one of the scariest things about life! Before embarking on a big expedition there’s so much one needs to consider. Tricky thing is, there’s a lot you don’t account for simply due to lack of knowledge. Lucky for us explorers, we live in a technology driven age. There are so many platforms that can help you get on your way, without as many worries. Planning is now made easy with these user friendly apps, most of which are free to download to your devices. Even the “technology inept” like myself can figure out these programs easily enough, while still soaking in the good energy of being in a new place. Here are some of the best travel apps I’ve used, they’ve really helped me get over those new city obstacles.
A huge aid for me is Google Translate. It’s saved me in so many situations – from being in the supermarket trying to decide on which yoghurt to buy, to simply withdrawing money from an ATM (which is way more complicated than it seems when it’s in a foreign language). It can be really nerve-wracking being in a new place surrounded by new things, with signs and labels that you don’t understand. But with Google Translate in your pocket, it’s so easy to simply punch in a word or phrase and get the direct translation in one second. Recently, Google added a new feature to the app which translates the text you see through your device’s camera, to your preferred language in real time. It even applies similar fonts and colours to the overlays! Translating will be as simple as holding your phone up to the desired area, and reading the translated words as if they were actually there – like magic!
Another very important aspect of travelling is navigation. The thing that makes me the most anxious is getting lost, so having an efficient navigation tool is an absolute must for me. The cool thing about Google Maps is that it doesn’t need an internet connection if your trip has already been loaded up before leaving a hotspot. It simply caches the route and directs you while you go. You will however need to be online if you want to add a new destination to your trip. Another great app I discovered while living in Amsterdam is 9292. Unfortunately, this one is a local app, so it’s only available for people living or visiting the Netherlands. Dutchies, listen up! This app congregates the public transport schedules closest to you, and computes a route using a combination of trams, trains, metros, and buses. This is great for those who are on the go and will be spending most of their day bouncing from place to place. Using these different modes of commuting makes your travels a lot more interesting too; hopping on a train and enjoying a serene ride, catching the metro to get somewhere quick, and finally taking the tram right to your front door. It also includes the cost of your commute, which will help you budget prior to starting your journey. You can then save the routes you use, to ensure less planning the next time you want to explore.
A good old favourite for travellers is the beloved TripAdvisor. It’s well acclaimed, has an extensive user base, and a good reputation. It’s pretty much the best way to find the trendy spots in the city you’re exploring. A great dining and drinking equivalent app is Zomato. It allows you to check reviews from restaurants and bars in your area, as well as a sneak peak at their menus. It has an excellent search filter; categorising venues by similarity of mood (romantic, casual), food type (healthy, fast food), location (sea view, picnic spot) and so much more. It makes choosing where to dine so easy and specific – you can find exactly what your taste buds are looking for. Plus it has great social gaming, depending on how many places you visit and the reviews you give.
Finally, one of the most vital aspects of travelling: having a good bed to sleep in at the end of a busy day. There are tons of sites and apps that will help you find boarding and lodging, but my favourite, and seemingly the most popular at the moment, is Airbnb. The cool aspect about it is that you’re speaking to like-minded people and travellers, most likely whom have experienced what you’re going through at present. It’s invaluable to have a helping hand when you’re far away from home, and Airbnb is a great way to connect. I’ve never been a fan of hotel rooms. They’re uncomfortable and just don’t make me feel at home. But with Airbnb you can avoid all that because you actually get to choose a real home to stay in. The filter feature will help you search for a home in the location you want (at a price you can afford), along with any other specifics that tickle your fancy. Then it’s as simple as clicking button to book your room. Got to love efficiency!
Now that your device has helped you find a place to sleep, prevented you from getting lost, filled your tummy with the best food and drink at the best spots in town and helped you to understand exactly what is on that menu you are reading, you have the chance to sit back, relax and take in all the joys of your adventure.