Free travel apps, which one to choose?
We live in the time of internet, smart phones and laptops, so we often drag these things along when we go travelling. And even though you’d really want to be free of these things, you must admit that they can be very useful at times. With these 16 free travel apps, your travels will be super smooth!
Airbnb has a free app and a website. You can apply as a guest or host.
As a host you submit your own room, apartment or (part of your) house for holiday renting. You decide what a guest should pay a night, and Airbnb helps you by telling you if you are cheap or expensive, depending on your location and specifications. Guests can apply for your room/house when interested, and together you can go over the details. Usually the guest receives a key of the house on entrance. This platform is not meant to be very social. It’s more like a hotel, but with locals. The host provides a clean bed in a clean environment. Want to become a host? Click here! It’s easy!
As a guest you can search for accomodation based on location, price and extras, like breakfast or private room or bathroom. If you see something that you like, you can send a message to the host. If you agree on the dates you can start packing your bags! You pay online. Airbnb gets a small part of your payment, but by paying online you never have a discussion with the host about the amount of money or whether you’ve already payed or not. Subscribe to Airbnb with this link and you will recieve a 35 euro discount on your first booking!
After the guest(s) have left, both guest and host write a review about each other. This way you can build a certain reliability on the platform, so you know who you invite to your house or who’s house you end up in.
Yes, we all know it, and we’ve all already been addicted to it at least once. I honestly don’t think this is a great game, but at least you can play it offline and it’s so addictive that you don’t even get bored after an hour of playing. Ideal for long flights or bus trips, or that night in the hostel when you can’t sleep because of the yet lag or your snoring roommate.
If anyone knows any other fun, offline games that don’t suck the life out of your battery in less than an hour, please let us know!
Couchsurfing has a free app and a website. It’s a social community in which travellers are given the opportunity to spend the night at the house of a local. This is free of charge, but the unwritten rule is to spend time with your guests and host, and really get to know each other and their cultures. The best part about it is making new friends all over the world. Even when you receive guests in your house, it’s like you are travelling. Also: locals know the best off the beaten tracks and hidden hotspots in their area. And if you are lucky, your host will even join you on these adventurous trips. If you open up to this community, you’ll be surprised how much strangers are willing to do for you. I think it’s the same atmosphere as in a hitchhikers community.
To create a trustworthy profile, you need to get some references. You can do this by hosting and surfing, but at the very beginning, don’t forget to just let your real life friends write you a nice reference. Also link your Facebook profile, fill out every section in your profile (preferably (also) in English), and post some pictures of yourself.
Hurray! We already knew Google Translate is super handy, but now you can also download languages for offline use! This is very helpful when you’re in an abandoned village in the middle of nowhere, with no WiFi of course, and you don’t have a clue how to get to civilisation again, or just want to know the price of an apple. Communication is not always that easy while travelling, so sometimes we just need a little help. Google Translate helped us a lot in South America, since we don’t speak any Spanish or Portuguese. Of course the translations aren’t perfect, but in 9 out of 10 cases the person you are trying to talk to can easily figure out what you mean.
Hostelworld, hostelbookers, booking.com. Even Google Maps has their own booking area these days. Honestly, we only tried Hostelworld, and this one works fine. Although we normally try to avoid the app, because you can get cheaper prices when talking face to face to the hostel staff. In some cases i’s still quite useful, for example when you’re planning your next destination and you want to know how expensive it’s going to be. Or when you know you will arrive late in the evening and you want to make sure you have a place to sleep and that the reception is still open.
You pay 10% of the total amount in advance online, the rest of the money you can pay on arrival. Note: bookings can only be cancelled 48 hours in advance, so if you cancel after this time, they will charge your creditcard.
Hostelworld’s app is very clear app with almost every hostel in the world in it. You can sort search results by distance to the center, price, rating or additional services like a pool, free wifi, etc.
Maps.me is our absolute favourite out of all free travel apps! Without this app we would have been hopelessly lost so many times, or have been running around in search of a bathroom, or been without coffee(!) or money. This app is a life saver when you’re travelling without internet on your phone.
Moovit is a free travel app we recently discovered. Someone in Brazil recommended it. The app allows you to look up bus routes, stops and times and get travel advice from door to door. The only catch is that both of these doors have to be in the same area, for example a city. Very useful if you’re trying to get to a specific sightseeing point, but it’s too far to walk from your hostel. It only works when connected to the internet, but in almost every city there’s a McDonalds or Starbucks with WiFi these days.
Pay attention: This app does NOT work for intercity buses.
Polarsteps is a super fun free app that tracks your entire travel route through GPS. When you’re offline the app remembers checkpoints you pass when connected through GPS. When you’re online, the app updates your travel tracker so your followers can see where you’ve been and where you are now. You can choose a private or public account.
Skyscanner is of course the place to be when you search for cheap flights. Of course there are too many websites and apps that do the same these days, but what I like about Skyscanner is that you can search flights to ‘anywhere’. This is perfect for the world traveller who just wants to travel cheap and doesn’t really have a preference for a city, country or even continent.
Watch out! Since the latest update there’s a small problem with the Skyscanner app. When you search for a date this month, and you have to click on ‘back’ for some reason, there’s a big chance the app flashes forward one month. If you don’t notice this and then click on search again, you can easily end up booking a flight in the wrong month! This happened to us, and I can tell you it’s quite annoying and of course a waste of money. So, check, check, check.
TripAdvisor is very useful when you want a clear overview of places to see and to be in a new city. The sights, restaurants, activities, etc. are sorted through reviews, so you have a practical list of the most popular things to do.
You can even book flights, accommodation and activities through the app these days, but I don’t have any experience with this yet.
The Lonely Planet Guides app is similar to TripAdvisor. The main difference is that you can download these city guides for offline use. The app is rather new, so not all capital cities of the world are online yet. But they are working hard and if you miss a city, you can vote for it and maybe it will be the next guide added to the app.
A currency calculator is very helpful on the road, especially when you visit multiple non-English-speaking countries and currencies change a lot. There are many of these apps, but I like this one because it’s simple, clear, fast and provides offline use. You can save currencies that you often use, so it’s easy and fast to find them back.
Duolingo works very well when you want to learn a new language with a free app. It’s easy, playful and very good for your self-confidence because of the easy words and many pictures. Plus: it even works offline!
With the Rome2Rio app you can find out how to get from one corner of the world to another. The app includes travel times and costs, which enables you to make a good choice on the way to go. Unfortunately the app isn’t flawless, but if you really don’t have a clue how to get (away) somewhere, it’s very useful for the first orientation. Often it links you to a local website, which is not very helpful if you don’t speak the language.
Uber is a free app that provides a taxi service by locals. This way you can get very cheap taxi rides. You have to allow the app to know your location, this way the driver knows exactly where to pick you up. You can recognise him by his licence plate, and the app tells you the exact time the driver gets there, which in our experience is never longer than 10 minutes. You can pay the driver in cash, but you can also choose to pay through the app. When you use this link, you recieve $15 off your first ride!
Booking.com is a very useful website when booking your accommodation. It promises you the best rate and you can pay by creditcard or cash. I always use it to book accommodation when I just arrived in a new country, because a lot of times I don’t have any cash yet! If you make a booking using this link, you will even get a 15 euro discount!