Not all travel apps are terrific. But these are.
Tried and tested apps to save money, get organised, connect, communicate, and locate.
Over the years I have downloaded travel apps that promise ease-of-use and indispensability and over the years I have deleted many of them one by one. In my yearly cull, several get replaced by something better. These keepers are a true testament to the survival of the fittest when it comes to the precious space on my phone.
An eSIM app available in over 200 countries. Install the app, purchase an eSIM plan for your region and install the eSIM (which only takes a few minutes). Connect to the local network, turn on your eSIM and you’re now connected to the internet. Instead of purchasing physical SIMs, this app allows you to get connected within minutes of landing at your destination. No more huge roaming fees. The prices are very affordable and will definitely save you money. Airalo is available for iOS and Android.
ATM Fee Saver
It pretty much says what it does on the tin: a mobile app that locates fee-free ATMs. The range covers over 35 countries in Europe, Asia, Australia, North and South America, the Middle East and Africa. After installation, it shows the nearest fee-free or lowest-fee ATM, the ATM fees, withdrawal limits, and a map view to guide you there. Did you know there are 4 fees when using an ATM abroad?
- The ATM usage fee
- The ATM conversion exchange rate charge
- Your bank fees for using your card abroad
- Your bank conversion exchange rate charge
This has the potential to save you lots of money as I can attest to huge charges in the past for withdrawing cash. Even when using Revolut, some ATMs still charge a usage fee regardless of the card you are using. ATM Fee Saver is available for iOS and Android as well as an online version.
An oldie but a goodie. A translation app that is available in 133 different languages. This is one app I have had for many years and has saved my butt more times than I can remember. Need to know where the train or bus station is but don’t speak French? Looking for the nearest toilets but your German is rusty? Want to order that delicious-looking plate of food that the person next to you ordered, but your Cantonese isn’t up to par?
Translate from traditional typing, use the mic to talk to the phone or use the camera to translate an image using your camera lens. I rely on this app all the time and it has helped me to remember many words and sentences that I need on a daily. Other bonuses? The app works offline and you can opt for the translation to speak back to you (or your waiter) in your chosen language. Google Translate has options for web, iOS and Android.
A database app that lists places for people travelling overland. Information such as campsites, parking spots, hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, mechanics, launderettes, and showers. There’s so much information and it often includes pictures and reviews of the places listed. It is all user-generated and provides GPS coordinates, amenities and comments. iOverlander (web, iOS and Android) is a lifesaver for people who drive abroad a lot.
An app that splits costs when travelling in groups. Ever travelled with a group of friends or extended family and ended up being out of pocket? Haven’t kept track of who paid for what? Then this app might be a game changer for you. Each person in your travel group signs up and then you add the expenses into the app as you go. You can then attribute costs to people, see who has paid and send “gentle” reminders to those who haven’t. Splitwise (iOS and Android) can also split expenses equally, as percentages, shares or specific amounts. It may just save your sanity, friendships and your holiday.
Cost: FREE (Splitwise Pro costs £2.79). Note: Since the update, it seems the free version is now quite limited.
A travel itinerary planning app. If you like to organise everything, you’re going to love this app. Build, organise and map out your travel plans. Add flights, hotel bookings, restaurants, places to see, checklists and invite your travel buddies. If you’re still at the research stage of a trip, Wanderlog (web, iOS and Android) can provide tips and recommendations on where to go and what to see. Everything is added to a map which then shows you directions and distances to all the places you add to your trip. You’ll either become the most valued and loved member of your organised trip or the most reviled.
Cost: FREE (Wanderlog Pro costs £40 per year and includes extra features such as unlimited attachments, offline access and more)
An app that helps you find wheelchair-accessible shops, toilets, cinemas, parking, restaurants and more. Great for wheelchair users, people with limited mobility and even travellers with prams. Wheelmap (web, iOS and Android) has an interactive map which shows accessibility via a traffic light system, with different shapes for each colour. Green is fully accessible, yellow is partly accessible and red is not at all accessible. User-generated, with ratings of the places people have visited. So if you’re visiting less touristy areas, this information may be a bit thin on the ground. It’s a great app and we hope to see it grow with more users, more information and more improvements for those who have limited mobility.
A plush chauffeur service, available in London, Paris, Moscow, St Petersburg and Dubai. Request and book a premium vehicle and chauffeur to pick you up and take you to your designated place. Book an airport collection using your flight details and the driver will be waiting for you at arrivals with your name on a sign. Cars are unmarked and the company provides exquisite comfort and exceptional service. Wheely (iOS and Android) is for the frequent flyer, business traveller or the seriously swanky among us.
A digital styling and wardrobe app. Curate and organise your clothes for your trip. Upload photos of your clothes and the app will create ‘cut-outs’ of them to enable you to plan and curate outfits from them. The app’s AI can even create outfit suggestions based on the weather forecast at your destination. The best bit about Whering (iOS and Android) is that it can create a packing list and even suggests items you may be missing. As long as the app doesn’t suggest Crocs, it may just stick around on my phone for a while!
Cost: FREE (with in-app purchases)
Currency converter app. I have had this app for many years and use it a lot! It’s had over 70 million worldwide downloads so that speaks volumes. You can monitor rates, set up rate alerts, transfer money and access live exchange rates. Xe (web, iOS and Android) is the perfect way to keep an eye on ever-changing rates when withdrawing or transferring money when travelling.