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Best Travel Apps 2017

 Optimizing your smartphone before a trip can be just as important as packing a solid suitcase. Having the right arsenal of applications can save you precious time and sizeable amounts of money! Become your own savvy travel agent with this roundup of mobile applications that have been personally vetted by yours truly. This list is constantly being updated, so check back for fresh finds! Last updated in February 2017. 
 

Plan

 

 “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Hopper – Stop playing guessing games and get alerts for reasonable flight fares as a push notification. I’ve saved $50 – $200 using this application to monitor domestic and international flights. Set up your preferred travel dates, check the fare calendar, and wait until you are sent a message to buy (free). Supported by iPhones and Androids.

SeatGuru – Rest easy on your flight by viewing airplane-specific seat advice and stay current with real-time flight status alerts. View real photos of the plane taken by other users in the community (free). Supported by iPhones and Androids.

PackPoint  – Never forget that pesky charger or deodorant stick ever again! PackPoint checks the weather of your destination, creates a custom list and makes it easy to share with others (free). Supported by iPhones and Androids.

Strolling outside of the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand.

Communicate

 

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
― George Bernard Shaw

WhatsApp – Text messages, calls, and group chats over wifi and widely used throughout the world (free). One of my personal favorites because it’s straight-forward and easy to use. Supported by iPhones, Androids and Windows Phones.

Facebook Messenger – Text messages, HD video group calls, stickers, and group chats (free). Requires Facebook account and supported by iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices.

Viber – Text, calling, photo messages and location-sharing with Viber users (free). I’ve found this is quite popular in Asia. Supported by iPhones, Androids, and Windows Phones.

Google Hangout – Chats, video conference, and calls. Most calls within the U.S. and Canada are free; low rates for international calls. Requires Google account and supported by iPhones and Androids.

Skype – Group video calls, voice calls, call mobiles and landlines at a low rate, with Skype to Skype calls free. Supported by iPhone, Android, Windows, Blackberry, Xbox, and TVs.

 

Connect

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
― Herman Melville

Instagram – Share photos and videos publicly or privately with friends. Record live events in your “story” or discover more through hashtags. This platform favors epic photos and is a great place for #travelinspiration. Supported on iPhone and Androids.

Snapchat – Stay connected with friends through their live events or catch up on news by sending direct messages or adding to your “story”. Supported on iPhones and Androids.

Twitter – See current messages from around the world across all topics. Video, picture, and text (under 140 characters) with the use of trending hashtags. Brevity is the soul of wit. Supported on iPhone and Androids.

Trover – Photo application for travelers. Each photo is geo-mapped, so you can find the exact destination if you want to see it in person. Search nearby photos to see what is around you. Supported by iPhones and Androids.

Lighting incense at the Buddhist temple in Da Nang, Vietnam.

Interact

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
― André Gide

Google Translate – Translates text in most languages with 50+ languages available offline. Instantaneous camera translation in 30 languages, two-way speech translation in 30+ languages, and can draw characters instead of using the keyboard in 90+ languages (free). Supported on iPhone and Androids.

Wikipedia – Self-guide your vacation by getting the lowdown before visiting a city or special attraction (free). Supported by iPhones, Androids, and Windows.

TripAdvisor – See user-rated destination picks ranked from best to worst. Read and write reviews, view pictures, and offline access available for 300+ cities (free). Supported by iPhones, Androids, and Windows tablets.

Yelp – Read and write reviews, get directions, browse nearby, add and view photos, check in, and bookmark your favorite businesses. Yelp is still expanding all over the world, so check whether its available in the country you are traveling to (free). Supported by iPhones, Androids, Windows, and Kindles.

XE Currency – Quickly calculate currencies, live exchange rates, and view historical charts (free). Supported for iPhones, Androids, BlackBerry devices, and Windows.

Get Around 

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  

– Saint Augustine

Google Maps – Navigate yourself around the world with accuracy and precision. I heavily rely on this application to catch the most efficient train timetables when traveling in Japan. Maps are also available for download for moments when you are offline (free). Supported on iPhones and Androids.

Uber – Ridesharing multi-level car service available in major cities all over the world. Request a ride at any time with 24/7 availability and complete payment through the platform using your credit/debit card (app is free). Supported by iPhones, Androids, and Windows.

Literally jumping for joy at the famous stationmaster cat, Tama’s stop in Wakayama, Japan.

Stay Organized

For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.

– Benjamin Franklin

Google Drive – Incredibly useful for anyone who heavily uses the Google suite (Docs, Sheets, etc.) to make lists, itineraries, notes, travel dockets. I typically do all of my trip planning using a Google document so it’s helpful to have it readily available and reduces the need for paper (free). Supported by iPhones and Androids.

HostelWorld.com – View itineraries and make travel accommodations directly on your phone at the drop of a dime. I secured a fabulous hostel in Kyoto two days before I decided to go. Select from 30,000+ hostels around the world (free). Supported by iPhones and Androids.

Airbnb – Check your reservation, explore new spots, and book on the application when you find the right place. Some of my best memories have been spent in quirky Airbnb’s with friends (free). Supported by iPhones and Androids.

 

MintNever be caught off guard by bank fees or expenses– especially when traveling. Keep an eye on all of your accounts including credit cards, checking/savings accounts, investment portfolios, and more (free). Supported by iPhones and Androids.

 

A Word on Mobile Hotspots…

This is my travel must.  Without wifi I am bogged down by sheer confusion (I’m hopelessly directionally-challenged), loaded with heavy travel books (a couple of pounds can feel like a ton of bricks in a backpack), or frustrated by my inability to access a computer to access my travel bookings in case of changes. I prefer to travel confidently and stay connected while I’m adventuring!

I rented my hotspot through WifiVox for my trip to Spain.

Most countries offer several reputable mobile hotspot rental companies (I cross check their validity by reading other blogs or TripAdvisor reviews). The process is simple enough starting with an online reservation, shipment of the device to your home or destination, and then a return through a prepaid envelope. These days, many places worldwide have at least 3G coverage. While this may not be as fast as you are used to, it will still be agile enough to give you what you need.  Most hotspots are also tether-friendly for multiple devices (keep in mind the more devices means the slower the speed).

The many faces of Buddha in Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

Of course, heavy wifi and application usage will be a bit taxing on your mobile battery. Make sure you always have a charger cable and lightweight charge stick nearby so you don’t run out of juice. 🙂

Do you have any travel apps that you swear by? Do share below!

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