Let me just start out by saying my usual MO for travel (& life) is to just jump into things and figure it out along the way. Most of the time this works for me (confession: I think I’m addicted to whimsy) but sometimes I have wasted time, money, and opportunities because I was an ill-prepared traveler. Eventually, I learned how to travel smarter and now I do not go anywhere without these 6 apps that help me save money and make my adventures more enjoyable.
Also, FYI, I wanted to write this post because I have come across too many other (I was once there) naive backpackers who haven’t heard of Bla Bla Car or the god among men, Rick Steves, and every time I just want to be like, “Duuuuude, what?!” and give them a bop on the head with my iPhone. (Don’t worry, it has a soft case).So this post is really just an alternative to me committing this mildly violent act on strangers and I hope it proves useful. Enjoy!
This first app makes it sooooo easy to compare all transport based on cost and duration. It includes all possible trains, buses, flights, and even Bla Bla Cars. (I’ll get to what those later). Then you can buy the ticket through the app. Simple, fast, smile-on-your-face-because-you-are-confident-in-your-purchase process.
2. Bla Bla Car
I used Bla Bla Car ~5 times while I was recently in Spain and probably saved around ~€100 on transportation costs. Ok ok, for you big money makers and spenders out there that may not seem like a lot. But for the hooligan (me) in front of the computer, that is substantial.
Ok, so how it works: The drivers post the route that they are driving and you can request to ride with them. Think Uber but less regulated… Sketch? Nahh. The app allows riders to leave reviews for the drivers so it’s up to you to do the research and ride with someone who is safe and not creepy.
My last pitch for this app (Don’t worry I’m not getting paid to brag about this company…I wish)… It helps you connect with locals! I had numerous Spanglish conversations where I learned more about the severe unemployment rates for young professionals in Spain, the origins of Flamenco music, and why Granada is the best city in Spain. One driver even ended up taking a friend and I out for salsa dancing!
3. Google Maps
This is particularly useful for other cheap travel(l)ers out there who do not pay for data but still want to be able to use a map offline. How it works: you search the area you will be traveling to, go to the google maps menu drop down, tap offline areas, tap custom area, and then select the area that you need and save. Voila! Then you can search & find places while you are wandering around the city. Awesome!
OH MY LAWDY do not even get me started on how much I love this guy. His excellent travel guide books changed my life & my travels. (Exaggeration? Sadly, no.) A lot of you may have his books or seen his shows… but what you probably did not know is that he has a FREE audio guide for almost all major cities in Europe. (Insert 3 cat with heart eyes emoji here).
These podcasts include guided city walking tours, guided tours through major art galleries, discussions about Spanish siestas, French cheeses, ect ect. Just please download it. Now.
5. Google Translate
This is another app that I think a lot of people do not realize you can download and then use offline. But there, now you know, and now you can help change the totally true stereotype that most Americans are uncultured and only speak one language.
6. Google Photos
So now you’ve downloaded all these sweet apps and have started taking 500 pictures a day of every pastry, statue, and balcony with flowers and you are running out of storage on your phone. Don’t fret my friends!! If you download Google Photos you can upload an unlimited number into the cloud and delete them off your phone. Poof! Just like that, you can take that selfie featuring your 5th gelato of the day.
Ok, ok truth be told this list of apps could have been a lot longer but I think I read somewhere that if your posts are too long people get bored and give up anyway. But if you are still with me (i love you) other apps to check out are: CityMaps2Go (Offline map with links to wikipedia articles), City Mapper (Best intracity transportation app, meetup (cool meetups, duh), couchsurfing (for free accommodation w/ locals and cool meetups).
All right I’m curious, what am I missing on this list? Anyone have other suggestions?