Today, when almost everyone owns a smartphone, there are a lot of apps that can make travelling much easier and even more fun. I prefer to leave my laptop at home even when going away for a while, so my main devices are an iPod Touch and a Blackberry phone. Here are some apps that I find quite handy and would recommend for you to check out.

1. Rome2Rio

Rome2rio helps you find the best way to get from Point A to Point B: it includes all possible means of transportation, from buses to carpooling. The example above shows all your options for a trip from Amsterdam, NL, to Cologne, DE, including approximate travel time (current version does not display approximate costs). To date, the app covers Europe, North and South Americas, Asia Pacific plus airlines and it promises to expand coverage in the future. I have used this app in South Asia and Europe and am really impressed by how many options I get every time.

> Operating system? iOS only (download here). If you are using a different device, the website will automatically adjust the settings to optimise the view for better display on the smaller screen size.

> Desktop version? Yes, and it is available in 9 languages! The website version also covers hotels and cars, displays approximate costs in general and accurate fares for chosen dates.

2. Triposo

If I haven't done proper research on my destination and do not know much about the place prior to arrival, I rely on Triposo for general information, e.g. historical background and culture, as well as practicalities such as transport, prices, and safety warnings. The app covers all countries in the world (25,000 destinations altogether!), but you only download the information that is relevant to your trip beforehand to access it offline. I have used it in Indonesia and Singapore and found it really insightful. Another great feature is their automatic route-generator around your place of choice based on the preferences, including food and museums, provided by you. I used this option during my 12-hour layover in Vienna and would never have been able to see so much of the city without it!

> Operating system? iOS and Android.

> Desktop version? Yes, and it is definitely worth a look. It uses one joint account with the app, so your info is accessible on the website as well. There is also an option to submit tips, so you can contribute to the community - for example, I created a route around Leiden's bars, which would make a perfect pub crawl (in my opinion). Not to mention they have a few fun labs going on, for instance, "cuisine guesser".

3. App in the Air & TripIt

For anyone who enjoys airports and flying or just likes any kind of statistics app (I do!), App in the Air keeps track of your flights, which you need to add manually via this app or TripIt. As the developers claim, "boarding passes, countries, airports, aircraft, airlines - everything matters." It is certainly a very geeky approach to flying, but if you travel by air frequently, it may save you some time as the app collects all the relevant info about your flights - boarding time, gate, etc - which makes it a perfect flying companion. And if you like, you can also share your flying experience with other fellow travellers. Now, App in the Air has integrated with another travel assistant app, TripIt, which helps you organise multiple trips into a single itinerary in one place and has a bunch of other neat features, so it is great for anyone who is going on a long, multi-stop trip.

> Operating system? iOS, Android, and Windows.

> Desktop version? App in the Air - no, TripIt - yes.

>You might also like: Airports by Travelnerd helps navigate airports, as they can be hella confusing! Everything from terminal maps and flights status to Wi-Fi availability and restaurants.

4. Around Me

Going places? The name speaks for itself - Around Me can help you find the nearest ATM or gas station as well as restaurants, coffee shops, bars, movie theatres, and so on. I have tested it within the Netherlands a couple of times and it always works flawlessly. Available in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and Chinese.

> Operating system? iOS, Android, and Windows.

> Desktop version? No.

> You might also like: World Around Me has the exact same idea behind it and is, I think, a bit sleeker-looking but requires iOS7 or newer.

5. Splittr

Out with friends or cooking together? Splittr is a handy app for those who travel together and have to split costs on different occasions: it tells whose turn it is to pay, who has to pay to whom, and the use of multiple currencies is supported. You can even generate a report at the end and email it to those involved. Available in English, German, and French.

> Operating system? iOS only.

> Desktop version? No.

> You might also like: WieBetaaltWat is a Dutch alternative, which has also a full desktop version.

6. Saving Grace. Travel Packing Aid

One of the many apps of this kind, Saving Grace offers a really long list of items to choose from and you can add new ones so you will not forget any of the essentials for any sort of trip. There is also a To-Do list that includes things like arranging travel insurance. You can set an alert to remind you to look at your items.

> Operating system? iOS only.

> Desktop version? No.

> You might also like: TripList is a great alternative with the exact same functionality, but requires iOS 7.

7. Live Expenses

Going on trips that are longer than 2-3 weeks can be tricky money-wise, so it is a smart idea to use a finance management tool throughout your travels. The biggest challenge, as far as I can tell from my experience, is currency conversion, so in order to stay on track you need to constantly process lots of calculations and, let's be honest here, we are not all Math geniuses. Live Expenses can keep your expenses sorted in a pretty neat manner and it does allow the use of multiple currencies at the same time, but the latter is a paid feature. Yet, it is a nice app to visualise your payments along the way even if you do not end up using all its features.

> Operating system? iOS only.

> Desktop version? No.

> You might also like: Trail Wallet is another great app for money management while on the road, but it is only free for the first 25 entries.

8. 1-Hour Photo

I am a big fan of Polaroid cameras and a happy owner of one, but it is just too big to carry around, so I barely ever get to take mine on a trip. Thanks to the developers of 1-Hour Photo, the idea of disposable pictures is still living strong even when almost everyone takes pictures with their phones: you now have to wait one hour to see what you actually captured! Isn't it just much more fun? You may disagree with me, but I will stick to my opinion on that: no more never-ending selfie- and groufie shoots)!

> Operating system? iOS only.

> Desktop version? No.


In addition to the apps mentioned above, there are a few more that are unfortunately not compatible with my iOS6, which I cannot upgrade. So I thought it would be unfair not to include them in this list as they are still great and you might try them as well!

  • Been: always wanted to check how much of the world you have already seen? On Been you can mark all countries you have ever visited, and then it creates a customised map of your travels. (iOS only)

  • We are on a Boat: for all you boat ride lovers out there! This app aims to provide an opportunity for boat enthusiasts to meet and share a ride together. Originally Dutch, the app is now spreading around the globe. (iOS and Android)

  • Cameo: an app that has been well-praised by the many for a reason. It is a simple yet effective tool for creating fabulous short movies and clips, which is just what you need while exploring new places. Channel your inner filmmaker! (iOS only)

  • Steller: an app for stories told through pictures, videos, and texts. The community of Stellers is already big enough to spend hours browsing through their works - simple yet impressive. (iOS only)

What are you favourite apps for travelling? Share in comments!

#blog #apps #hacks #planning #pretravel

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