A smartphone is essential in daily life. But even though you probably want to shut down your work e-mails and phone calls during your travels, you will also see that a smartphone is pretty handy while traveling.
We might go even further and say it’s indispensable, and that is not just because we do a lot on social media. Many apps that we will explain in detail below will make travel easier, more convenient, safer and in short more awesome. You might consider some as #travelhacks. The best part is that you can use most apps offline. After all good preparation is the key to succes.
You can organize our Must Have Apps in the categories: Language, Navigation, Weather, Accommodation, Multimedia and Transport!
Learn a new language or translate absolutely everything
This app really translates everything for you. If you take the paid version for 5 euros a month you can even speak to your unlocked phone and it will speak back with the translation. It works incredibly well! In fact, my father knows someone who only speaks Portuguese and they just put the app in the middle and the speach recognition is fantastic. Really much better than Google Translate. We will certainly go for the subscription if we go to South America or countries where English isn’t native and widespread.
2. Google Translate
For text Google Translate is the best and also the free option. We even use it partly to translate our blogs into English. We let Google Translate do the preliminary work and then change sentences and sentence structure so it doesn’t get weird. We have to admit it still gets weird sometimes regardless of Google Translate, but that is just because we are two dutchies writing in English. But frankly to simply understand another language it works very well.
3. Mondly: Learn Spanish (or other languages) and Duolingo
Mondly and Duolingo are the best apps to learn a new language. Even if you do not learn the whole language, the basics including greeting and how to order food can take you very far in a country. You will be amazed at how much warmer the locals become when they see that you have put in the effort. They often even feel honored. Fun for you and fun for the locals. And only a little effort!
Do not get lost and navigate for free
You can download some areas offline on Maps.me You can then navigate even whilst you are in airplane mode. It works superb, we have already used it in the USA, Seychelles, Mauritius and Iceland.
5. Google Maps (offline maps)
The more well known App is Google Maps which is also nice. In terms of navigation a little less clear in countries outside Europe but this App allows you to have offline areas as well. The advantage compared to Maps.me is that you also have restaurants, attractions and points of interest in the area available so it’s convenient to do research around you. We highly recommend to put both apps on your phone.
Follow the sun
In addition to the weather app that comes standard on your iPhone or other smartphone, we recommend supplementing it with some slightly more accurate apps. For the photographer it can definitely pay off to know what the sun, moon, and galaxy do if you want to take night shots or don’t want to miss the golden hour.
Our secret weapon in the Philippines. We visited the Philippines for three weeks in December-January and during that time there were 3 Typhoons present in the archipelago. That is is some super bad luck right there. But with Weatherpro and the local Typhoon forecasting, we always chose a way around before the eye of the storm would hit us. We read about people who went in the same period of time and had non-stop rain. We only had rain for one day, and the rest was totally sunny. You have to book hotels with a cancellation insurance or policy in place of course, otherwise it will become expensive fast. Sometimes you can switch around your indoor and outdoor activities if rain is forecasted.
7. Sun Surveyor
This is the app for the photographer. In the app you can see what time and on which side the sun rises again and at what time the blue and golden hours start at your location. That ensures that you always have the best light. We also use it sometimes when we want to create long shadows in a photograph, like palm trees or ourselves. Gives a great effect. Whether or not the galaxy is visible and whether it is full or half moon is important for the photographer who wants to take night photos. Only with a visible and high galaxy and an absence of the moon do you have a chance to capture it properly. Then of course you also have to avoid ambient light. Good luck!
Book during your holiday
8th Booking.com, AirBnB and Agoda
It often happens that in the middle of our trip, despite all planning, we realize that we want to stay somewhere a little longer, or that we rather leave somewhere. That is why we are always willing to pay a little more for a stay which you can cancel up to 1 day in advance. Booking.com is a nice platform that we use most and where you can find nice places with pretty effective filters. We use AirBnB to find the real special places. The Camaya Bali is a good example of this, not on Booking.com but one of the most special places in the world and also very affordable.
Agoda gives you a lot more choice in Asia and better rates than Booking.com so we highly recommend that you use this if you travel to Asia.
If you learn to interpret reviews, Tripadvisor is perfect. What we often do is start with the 1 star reviews and see what is said there. If someone claims that the hygiene is very bad and it is very noisy, for us that’s a no-go. But if people expected better Wi-Fi and their tea was once lukewarm and the staff acted indifferent about it, and this received the bad rating we would not take this seriously. After checking the 1 scores we look at the most recent reviews, because in a few years time a lot can change. Finally, we look at reviews in the same period of the year. Because if you’re staying somewhere with a lot of sun, or in the low season with just rain, that is just crucial to the experience. When you use this triangle of reviews you will get a balanced review.
Have fun on the Road h2>
Netflix offers the possibility to download series and films on tablets, laptops and telephones. You can then view them offline. Make sure you use the entertainment system on the plane to keep your Netflix episodes for an evening that you just want to chill in the hotel. Delicious.
11. Spotify Premium
Spotify playlists can be made offline if you have a premium subscription. And that’s great! We have over 12 playlists with 30 up to 200 songs on it. You can download all songs and connect to hotel rooms that have bluetooth speakers.
In the middle of the bright sun, reading is often unpleasant. You really have to sit in the shade and an e-reader is almost required to read. Storytel lets you combine getting your tan on with the pleasure of a spoken book. It takes some getting used to it but dreaming away while you work on your ‘tan’ is priceless.
13. Grab or Uber
Moving around in most countries with advance knowledge of the costs? Uber and Grab are Apps that work similar. Based on GPS the App knows where you are. You set a destination and someone will pick you up with a fixed fee. You can even let your hotel book the cab or you can do it yourself when you have Wi-Fi. No wifi? Then I guess you still have the nice old-fashioned standing along the street haha. But we always use one of these apps when it is available. Because well, negotiating with taxi drivers is not a bucket list thing.
Maybe you already know about it. We use this App very often to book the cheapest tickets. We also have some useful tricks for this, which we will explain in another blog.
15. Currency Converter Plus
You must have this app or another on your phone if you want to convert to different currencies. The smart thing to do is to make it easy for yourself and remember what is equal to 1 euro and 10 euro. You can do math for the rest yourself. Still happens when we forget about it during the trip though. And then we quickly convert the prices using the app again. Comes in handy.
We hope you find these useful. To be honest, we encourage everyone to download and install all these apps before you travel. Otherwise you probably won’t invest time in it during your travels. And many of these can increase your travel convenience.