Having almost reached the half way mark on my travels round the world, I don't know where I would be without my iPhone. I'm a bit of a sucker for gadgets and Apple products anyway but having to leave my MacBook and iPad at home, it's definitely proved a vital companion in researching places to go, booking hostels and flights and even helping to pass the hours and hours of journeying by road, boat and air. Some apps have been particularly helpful. In this post I aim to list my top travel apps and what I've used them for. They've certainly reduced stress on more than one occasion!
In alphabetical order for the avoidance of bias!
I've really enjoyed using Fiz to seek out places nearby. The huge choice of places of interest, restaurants, night life and other essentials the app provides quickly gives you the lie of the land and this is immensely useful and reassuring. Each place is rated by 'Thumbs Up' (similar to 'likes' on Facebook) so you can quickly see how good other users think a place is. Unlike Triposo (below) which can be quite limited, Fiz caters for everything, collating from Foursquare, Google, Panoramio and other sources so that available tips, reviews and personal photographs are all handy; it literally has (almost) every place for eating, sleeping and playing in the location you are in.
As it's a brand new app, I'm usually the first user to visit the places I've been to in Asia, so mine are typically the first Thumbs Up or Fiz reviews. Cool to be first though! The point system is a great feature: when you rate a place with a thumbs up or review or upload a photo, you earn points which contribute to your overall score... must admit, it's quite addictive!! Fiz also has data saving options so that any pics I take get uploaded when I'm back on wifi. Because I'm lucky enough to have a behnd the scenes view of Fiz, I kow there's a lot more to come and I'm excited by things like the Timeline and Yelp reviews. A while back I asked the developers for the app to auto-update as you move around with it open and they tell me that's gone straight to the top of the queue! I'd definitely always have Fiz on my phone when I travel.
We all know Google Maps, right? The great thing with them is that after you look at places on the app, the maps are held on your phone memory for a while so it doesn't require wifi or data. GPS is free, so with the tracker, if you've already loaded the maps you can always find your way! Also, you can save places when online and see them offline - this particular feature has proved vital when Tuk Tuk/taxi drivers have tried to mug us off with short but expensive journeys.
The Hostelworld app has been our staple source of researching places to stay and booking them! There are 25000 hostels on the app complete with reviews, availability and pricing.
I wanted to keep a personal daily travel diary on what I got up to, because I knew as soon as I got home (or a couple of weeks later) I would've forgotten a lot of the amazing experiences I'd had. I had a quick look before I left and ended up trying Travelpod.
At first I was going to use a physical notebook to write down each day's happenings and use Travelpod to do a bi-weekly account but after about a week I decided that using an app would serve me best as it would back everything up automatically and I would be able to access it online wherever I was. With Travelpod, you can upload photos to each entry, say where you've stayed, where you've visited and it creates a map of your travels.
Triposo is a great set of guides that have been available for most countries/cities we've been to so far. A great feature is that all the information is stored in your phone, so if you're out of a wifi area, and don't want to pay extortionate prices on data roaming, you can find out a brief history of the place, find out where is good to visit/eat and find it all on the (simple) maps provided. The guides aren't conprehensive though, so it's probably best to use Triposo in combination with something else like Fiz above. The app provides a basic phrase book to help you out in countries where you didn't have time to research the common phrases!
Ok.. Maybe not a travel app in essence, but it has served us well on those long journeys and whilst waiting for food to be served. At 69p (when on offer) it's an absolute steal! The 4 player option was perfect for our quad pack of travellers.
There are others that have proved useful as well - Skype to stay in touch with family & friends back home, Facebook to stay in touch with other travellers & friends, Flickr (premium) has been great to upload and back up photos from my phone and camera as well!
All in all, travelling without a smartphone and without apps like these would not have been quite as organised, and there would almost certainly have been more stress, and more to carry (like guidebooks!). No one app can or should do it all, so finding the right combination of apps to suit you is definitely my top tip for travellers!