Most of us have got mobile phones these days, and apart from the usual functions of calling, texting, staying social, and emailing, you can also install apps (most of them free) that have all kinds of functions. Some of these apps are particularly useful whilst you’re travelling, and don’t want to carry around numerous bits of kit, when a phone app can do exactly the same job.
Have a browse on the Google Play store or the Apple App store, to find things of particular interest to you, but we’ve compiled a list of some good ones if you are heading off on your travels. The ones we have selected below are all free, one that you do have to pay £2.99 for, but is an invaluable idea (not just while you’re travelling) is the ICE App by Appventive on the Google Play store.
It’s something we don’t like to dwell on, but it is an In Case of Emergency app that provides emergency service personnel with invaluable information about who to contact in the an accident or incident scenario, and also provides health information about you, to aid treatment. The ICE icon is easy to spot on your phone’s screen, and also includes insurance information. A key feature is that it can be accessed even when the phone’s pattern/pin/password is locked. A useful travel function is that it switches between a number of languages (including French, Italian and Japanese) whilst travelling, depending where you are. None of us like to think that we’ll be in the situation of needing the ICE app, but it could prove invaluable in a traumatic situation in an unfamiliar place.
Our pick of the free apps:
Google Maps – No need to splash out on a hand-held map, just download the app and use the comprehensive, accurate maps for 220 countries and territories. There is also a useful voice-guided GPS navigation for driving, cycling and walking. There is also ‘Street View’ and indoor imagery for restaurants, museums and more – useful to see if you want to eat somewhere, before you go in!
Colour Torch HD LED flashlight – This sounds great fun to play with, and create your own little disco dance-floor, but it is also functional too, and a real boon when walking in a dark area. You can transform your mobile into a torch, with this app, and it’s also useful in a cinema or theatre when you need to find your seat.
Google Translate – It’s undoubtedly a great asset if you can speak other languages, on your travels. If, however, your language skills are a bit rusty, then this App will bridge the knowledge gap. It works by you typing in the phrase that you would like translated, and it can then translate into 90 languages. You can also photograph signs or menus, to translate text instantly in 26 languages – a great way to avoid a dodgy dining experience! There is also tow-way automatic speech translation in 40 languages. You can also download language packs for when you’re on-the-road and internet connection is expensive or slow. An accessible way to understand and be understood in the languages that are most likely to be useful.
Citymapper – Bus, Tube, Rail – This App’s goal is to help users to get around the world’s largest and most popular cities, using public transport. It boasts an A to B journey planner, including all modes of transport that are available. Handily, it uses real-time data, so it knows if there are problems or delays to slow you down. This takes the leg-work out of route and mode-of-transport planning, and gives you more time to spend deciding what you actually want to do. The App covers London, Manchester and Birmingham in the UK, plus cities in Europe, USA, Canada, Asia and Latin America.
Trip Advisor – Everyone’s heard of Trip Advisor, and it can be a really useful tool to help you to make informed decisions about destinations, accommodation and attractions – harnessing the power of traveller feedback. More and more, people are also using it to make bookings too, as it can search for airfares, and give you booking options for hotels, restaurants and flights too. The App is especially helpful if you’re travelling independently and arranging your own hotels etc. as it gives you the option to be more flexible, and arrange travel as you go, rather than having to arrange everything before you set off.
Nature Sounds Relax and Sleep – Travel brings with it a break from the routine, and this can cause temporary insomnia for some unlucky travellers. Rather than resort to medication, it might be worth giving this app a try first, to see if it can work its magic and switch off your busy mind and relax into sleep. Even if you don’t want to go to sleep, travel can be stressful at times, and these soothing sounds could help to de-stress and get back into holiday-mode! You can choose from the following different ‘sounds of nature’ – thunder, ocean sounds, sea, bird-sounds, rain, night in the jungle, water sounds, waterfall or nature. I’m not sure how soothing the sound of ‘thunder’ would be for me personally, and the sound of ‘rain’ might result in me hopping back up to the toilet, but each to their own!
European Health Insurance Card & EHIC – Travel Safe
It is sensible to take a European Health Insurance Card with you, if you are travelling to a country in the European Union, as it offers you (as a British citizen) the same healthcare that is available to locals in the country in which you are travelling. The EHIC – Travel Safe App is able to store the information from a valid EHIC card, and presents it on your screen in the EHIC standard layout. You can then share the card information in a multiple of ways. This could be very useful if you are the type that loses things easily – you might use a little card, but hopefully not your phone! The European Health Insurance Card app is a portable guide to using the EHIC in the EU. There is general info, emergency phone numbers, covered treatments and costs, how to claim, reimbursements and who to contact in case you’ve lost your card. It is available in 25 languages, with the option to switch from one language to another. The card does not replace travel insurance, and it has its limitations, but it is worth having one as it is free of charge.
Airbnb is the incredibly popular accommodation rental site, an eclectic selection of accommodation options are listed, found and rented. Accommodation options range from a loft-space in Edinburgh, to castles, Greek villas and Italian treehouses. The app allows you to put in your search criteria, and will then display your options, and allow you to rent accommodation from a listed provider. You are spoiled for choice regarding the destinations Airbnb accommodation is available, and also the kind of accommodation you are looking for, as there are over 1, 500, 000 propertiees listed in 34, 000 cities, in 190 countries. The site has been a great success, as more than 15 million stays have been booked since 2008, part of the success has been down to the inbuilt peer-review system, where both guests and hosts receive feedback – so you can check this out before plumping for a particular accommodation provider.
This invaluable tool helps you to work out whether the bargain that you’re haggling about in the souk on holiday, really is as much of a bargain as you hope, when you convert the local currency into pounds! It can convert every world currency, and offers live proprietary currency rates and charts. Even more usefully, it can calculate prices with the currency converter. You can use it either online or offline (using stored rates). This handy tool should help you stay within budget wherever you are around the world.
Weather Puppy or Weather Kitty
There are lots of weather apps available, but one that combines a global weather forecast with pictures of cute puppies or kittens, has got to be a winner! Apart from feeling all gooey inside, after seeing the cute canines or felines basking in the sunshine, or keeping warm and dry inside when it’s raining, there are more practical benefits too! There are weather forecasts for locations around the world, a 10 day weather forecast, and hourly weather for the next 24 hours. There is also today’s high/low, feels like, humidity, wind, sunrise/set and more. The added benefit is there are over 700 puppies/500 kittens to enjoy with different themes to savour, including Halloween, yoga dogs and grumpy cat, which will make you smile, no matter what the elements have in store!
Although these apps are free to download, some of them have optional ‘in-app purchases’, so make sure that you keep an eye on what you are being charged for, and if you are happy to do this.
The other thing to do is check the ‘roaming prices’ for internet usage whilst abroad, you can avoid charges for using the internet and apps, if you can connect to WiFi.
If you’re heading off on exciting travel adventures, and need to take out comprehensive and great-value travel insurance from a trusted provider, please get a quote from Go Walkabout Travel Insurance, to set you off with peace of mind and reassurance should the worst happen: Click here