Can you imagine not travelling with a smart phone? We have read all about the classic explorers who navigated the globe with a questionable 'map' and compass, but how many of us would be able to get dropped in the middle of nowhere and get somewhere you were planning WITHOUT checking a map or app on your phone?!?
Has this made us too reliant on technology? Undoubtedly yes.
But this doesn't mean we should be so faescetious that you don't use technology while you travel out of principle! We should embrace technology when we travel and these are our 5 favourite ones we recommend - that aren't Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (in no particular order):
1. WhatsApp It goes without saying doesn't it? 700 million of us use the app every month with about a million new people using it every month. And how many messages get sent...30 billion...DAILY. The mind boggles.
The best thing about WhatsApp is is works on Wi-Fi meaning you can send messages, photos, videos and sound recordings all around the world for free. If you're from the UK and on the Three network, you also get unlimited data abroad in Europe so you don't need to ask that awkward inevitable "do you have wifi" question when ordering a coffee!
Is there a better app to make friends and family jealous of where you are travelling?!?
Get it here.
2. Word Lens This app has it's detractors and even we are not that sure of it. But mostly it does what you need.
It's a real-time translator of European languages where you use the camera to hover over any menus or signs and it translates to your chosen set language. The words you are translating do need to be relatively big and it isn't always a perfect translation, but it gives you the main gist of whether the sign says 'stay away' or 'everyone welcome' or if that meal is chicken or...tofu.
It's a clever app that once downloaded works offline meaning there is no need to use your data up or wait for Wi-Fi.
Start translating and download Word Lens via their Twitter page here.
3. City Mapper It's not available in every city, but we use City Mapper quite a lot in London, Paris, Rome and Barcelona (they're available in other cities too, but we haven't tried them there). It seems to be a bit more detailed about places and directions than Google Maps.
While it doesn't know every shortcut you may know through having travelled the city a lot, it does offer a fair few alternatives for getting from A to B. A good feature is when you look for directions, it gives you the directions by walking, cycling and public transport.
Make your life easier and map your cities here.
4. Metro Kinevia This is not a well known app at all, but we rely on it so much when we travel around! It's plain, but oh so simple.
Once downloaded, you add the cities you want to it and it has all the public transport information you need. You simply type in where you are and where you want to go and it lays the journey out in simple words and icons that is fool-proof to follow. There are no fancy graphics or pictures, but it's this simplicity that makes it so good.
It's not just the main capital cities they have, but even the smaller towns that have public transport (400 places at the moment). This app needs to be known more!
Never get lost on public transport and download it here.
5. Pocket When you travel, there are some inevitabilities. Be it getting lost, trying to work out exchange rates or accidentally ordering sparkling water...
One other inevatability is actually travelling. As in the time you spend on a train or plane getting somewhere. This for us is the perfect time to catch up on your reading and if you don't want to bring a book due to space constraints or not having a book to read at the time, then this app is the answer for you. Once downloaded you can save blogs, articles, newspaper articles, essays or anything you find on the internet and it saves on the Pocket app so you can read them offline. This is probably the most used app on our phone as we are always coming across articles and blogs we want to save and read for when we are public transport in London, so it's not just for travelling!
Start saving and reading here.
These apps are just something to use that ADDS to your travel experience. It should never overtake it.
One bugbear we have while travelling is seeing people just staring down at their phones/tablets when travelling - SO KEEP YOUR HEAD UP & LOOK AROUND!!!!
While you can read all about a place on your phone, it's no substitute to experiencing the place. After all, you can't taste and smell the picture of the food market on your phone can you?
Come smell and taste the European markets with us on our immersive foodie experiences here.