Who doesn’t enjoy a good old map? The initial two minutes of unfolding a glossy sheet of paper, marking out places with felt-tip pens, estimating your arrival times and preserving them in shoe boxes as souvenirs from a trip. Ah, the nostalgia.
But as much as we appreciate maps and all things ancient, deep down within our hearts we know we wouldn’t be able to survive 10 minutes in a new country without consulting our all-time favourite personal assistants – Mr Smartphone, Ms Wi-Fi, and the very handsome Mr Google! Here’s a list of apps that allow you to harness the power of the internet when planning your travels.
After all the planning comes the packing. Is everyday going to be sunny or must you throw in a jacket too? With Pack Point on your phone, you can wave goodbye to all your packing woes. With this app, all you need to do is key in some of the details of your trip such as the destination(s), number of days and activities you are interested to pursue. The app automatically draws up of a list of must-have items for your luggage depending on where you’re going and its current weather situation. So whether your plan is to chill on the beaches of the Maldives or to go temple-hopping in Siem Reap, Pack Point will tell you exactly what to bring.
Book your flights and hotels easily with the Traveloka booking app and get great discounts, offers and promotions as you do so, especially if you are travelling around Southeast Asia. This app lets you compare prices between several airlines and accommodation options so you can pick the best deals. A favourite with budget travellers, Traveloka is easy to navigate, has multiple payment options and a 24/7 online customer care service if you get stuck while making an online transaction.
Always put safety first. Period.
Unpleasant incidents while on the road are not uncommon or unheard of; especially if you’re a solo female traveller or travelling as a group of women. The bsafe app can help you escape sticky situations or at least create a minor distraction if the need arises (which we hope it doesn’t). The app is equipped with live GPS tracking and comes with multiple features such as follow me, fake calls, video recordings of your surroundings and a SOS button that’ll instantly send out alerts to family and friends who are connected to you via the app. The app also comes with a timer that alerts your friends if you haven’t connected with them within a set time period. So before you jet off on your next adventure, put together a list of trusted friends and family members on the bsafe app so that you never have to walk alone.
Just as necessity is the mother of invention, navigation is the mother of travelling. Go slightly off track and you can easily lose out on a couple of hours just finding your bearings. Navigate like a pro with Google Maps! While there are loads of offline and online tracking maps available in the tech world, Google Maps has continued to be one of the most reliable and smartest navigation systems, helping travellers find their way around all corners of the globe. This multilingual app also comes with a street view and an offline feature, allowing you to navigate without the need for Wi-Fi.
How often do you lose track of your money while travelling? Maybe you splurged on an expensive meal or what was supposed to be a simple souvenir hunt became more like Christmas shopping spree. The Trabee Pocket app allows you to keep a track of all your expenses, systematically categorising your purchases into hotels, transport, food, attractions and shopping. It also helps you separate expenses made on your card as opposed to those made with cash, shows you the balance on your travel budget, supports multiple currencies and lets you generate an expense report at the end of your trip. With this app, there’s not reason not to be on top of your finances.
Back in 2016, while on an adventurous road trip in South Korea, we made the gravest travel mistake of all – we didn’t book our night time accommodation believing that we can take on the world. Three hours and a couple of hastily-consumed midnight burgers later, we were finally able to find a motel that had one room available to accommodate our pack of six travellers. Thanks to apps like Hotel Tonight, you no longer need to worry about last minute plan changes or stress that you won’t have a place to stay should you opt to spend an additional night at the city you’re in. This cool booking app helps you reserve a hotel room at the last minute, or ‘tonight’, with loads of deals to select from and is available in North, South and Central America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and select destinations in the Asia Pacific.
Okay, so we really like Google. But when it comes to deciphering weird menus, reading street signs in a foreign script or conversing with locals, Google Translate has proven to be quite a hero. In its online mode, the app can read easily between texts and photographs in 103 languages along with providing assistance in basic conversation with the locals via a ‘read aloud’ feature. The entire app is also available offline in 59 languages, and is supported on Android and iOS. With several other features including a mini phrasebook for quick conversations, this is the best language translator to have on your mobile.
If you’re anything like me, which means being the worst at converting currency (even in its simplest form), you’ll want this handy app on your phone while travelling. XE Currency helps you convert your home currency to your preferred currency, which helps make spending money overseas more manageable.
The exchange rates are reliable, and the user interface is super-friendly. You can even monitor up to 10 different currencies, but if you want to add more on, you’ll have to fork out for the PRO version. This app also allows you to transfer and receive money anywhere in the world. So, all in all, pretty good to have.
No stranger to the travel industry, Airbnb has made it possible for all kinds of travellers to afford stays suited to their budget. From cheap stays to luxurious villas, you can find all sorts of holiday digs, and there are beautiful imagery and reliable reviews to help you choose.
While you may have booked accommodation before your travels, having this app on your mobile device is no harm. Travelling during the pandemic comes with unforeseen risks with flight delays and cancellations, so if you need a place to sleep for a night or two, it’ll be good to have the Airbnb app.
Let’s face it, no one, and I mean absolutely nobody, enjoys jet lag. It’s tiring and can often make you feel your travelling time has been cut short. After all, you are trying to catch up on time with your sleep.
Offering advice on when you should expose yourself to bright lights, when to take a nap, and avoid that cup of coffee, Timeshifter is a game-changer. Conde Nast has praised this app, saying, “Say goodbye to jet lag.” And you can as it also personalises a plan for you by considering your habits, routines and sleep patterns.
Frequent fliers that constantly find themselves jumping through different time zones may want to invest USD 24.99 for a year of unlimited plans. Not just for those who travel often, we also recommend this app for those working oddly-timed shifts.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on 18 January 2018 but has since been updated to include more information.