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Top 5 Travel Apps 2017

In Blog, Featured, Hints and Tips, Reviews by Erin Hardie1 Comment

Don’t leave home without them! These are our top 5 travel apps for 2017. We spent the first half of 2017 flashpacking through parts of the USA, Canada, Europe (including the UK), a couple of Greek islands (Crete and Corfu), Spain and Scandinavian countries including Norway and Iceland. This was a reasonably varied trip and we quickly discovered that certain “can’t live without” apps from home such as Uber, were not always available in every place we visited. Some apps though, we found ourselves using religiously, like every day religiously. They made it to the list that follows. Read on for the top 5 travel apps you must pack for your next travel adventure!

1. Tripit

Free

Available for Apple and Android

tripit app

Look how organised our trip was thanks to this handy tool!

If this list were in a competitive order then Tripit would definitely head it up as number one. As it stands our list is not competitive but if there is one piece of app advice you heed from this post, let it be this! Tripit is an indispensable travel organization tool. Think of it as the online version of those massive daggy travel wallets people used to carry to organise all of their travel documents. Tripit brings this practise into the 21st century. Once you have set up your account linked to your primary email address Tripit will find all relevant travel confirmation emails and automatically add them as entries to your Trip! (For Outlook, Yahoo and Gmail accounts only; otherwise forward your travel confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com) It will even then share them to anyone else you are sharing the Trip with (must also have the Tripit app installed). This includes flight information including flight number, hotel and airbnb bookings including check-in/out times, train travel and more. If for any reason the handy email search function does not automatically add a plan to your Trip itinerary then you can also manually add entries. We found Tripit did not pick up on a few email confirmations that we had received in Spanish and had only to enter these plans. Happy travel organizing!

2. XE Currency

Free or Pro for $2.79

Available for Apple and Android

Man in front of to scale sperm whale

Iceland can be massively expensive! Although fortunately this was not so much the case at the Whales of Iceland Exhibition, Reykjavik

Continuing with the travel planning theme, second on our list is the XE Currency app. It comes in both a free and paid pro version (on Apple only), which at just $2.79 is worth the upgrade! At the free level this app allows you to track and calculate exchange rates on as many as 10 nominated currencies with real time rate updates when connected to the internet and the last updated rates when not connected. This is a super handy tool when you’ve just landed in a country, jetlagged and gone shopping with no real understanding of the exchange ratio as yet. It saved us from accidentally buying $100 beanies as gifts for our nieces in extremely expensive Iceland! We were simply able to enter $8,399 ISK into the calculator to see the result in AUD as $100… The pro version is worth the small investment as a travel planning tool. In the pro version you can track up to 20 currencies and most importantly get notifications on when rates drop! Extremely useful if you have a few months up your sleeves to buy some currency in advance of your trip to get the most bang for your buck! Although the pro version is only available for Apple it appears this same functionality is available for Android users by making in-app purchases.

3. Google Translate

Free

Available for Apple and Android

man eating snails

In Seville we were able to translate a sign saying “hay caracoles” to understand that it meant we could order snails… if we wanted to… and one of us sure did!

Chances are you’ve already heard of Google Translate and probably used it on your computer on more than one occasion already. It’s been available for mobile use since 2010 but has become an absolute must have since a 2015 update which saw the addition of a real time sign reading translation feature utilising your phone camera. Yes that’s right – with the app open point your phone camera at any inscrutable sign in another language and chances are the translation to your nominated language will appear within seconds! You can capture these translations to by taking the photo of the necessary sign to save it for later use. Fear not any longer ordering the wrong dish in authentic no-English, no picture menu restaurants! You won’t have to eat hamster brains unless you actually want to eat hamster brains…

4. Slow Shutter Cam

$2.99

Available for Apple

comparison of northern lights photos with and without slow shutter app

Look at the difference! The top photo was taken without the app and even had the colour tweaked to show the green of the northern lights. The bottom photo was taken using the slow shutter app – no further edits made. Both on an iPhone 6.

Although we must sound like a real organised bunch with this list of handy hints, in fact we often come across these pieces of advice by making major errors and oversights! One such oversight during our 6 month trip was forgetting to pack a professional camera and then deciding we’d like to go and see the Northern Lights. Capturing the Northern Lights on a camera phone? Yeah tell us we’re dreaming! And we were, until we discovered this handy day saver: Slow Shutter Cam. Check out the pic comparison below: a before and after that shows the vast improvement this free app made to ensure we had a lasting visual memento of a once in a lifetime sight! For best results try and use a table/railing or similar to steady your phone against to ensure against blurring from movement whilst your shutter stays open for a longer than usual time period. And even if you don’t decide to use this app at least heed this one tip: you will not get photos of the Northern Lights using your camera flash, although many tourists on the boat around us certainly tried… Don’t be that guy, you’re better than that!

5. Google Maps

Free

Available for Apple and Android

Food and restaurant sign

Without Google Maps we would never have found this awesome Indian street food tapas style restaurant in Manchester!

Again you must have already used this one unless you have been living under a rock or a hard place to get internet data… Well if you are living in a hard place to get internet data or traveling somewhere and planning on only using free wifi when it’s available, google maps is still going to be a go to trip tool! Google maps functionality can still work when offline for chosen areas. So in advance of arriving at your destination/ leaving your wifi hotspot simply locate the area you need offline then go to menu> offline areas. This area can now be saved to be used almost exactly the same as when you do have internet connectivity! We also used Google Maps religiously as a restaurant, sightseeing and even hairdressing recommendations app! When in the maps app simply type “restaurants near me” (or whatever it is you are searching for) and Google will display a list of options including information on their distance from you and an aggregate star rating based on user reviews. Click on any of the places that pique your interest and scroll down to read reviews from users who visited and/or see authentic pictures of the food/services available.

Bonus! Preview

Free

Available for Apple and Android

preview dashboard

This is my preview dashboard – any guesses where I am posting about next!? Follow my Instagram @downbubbletravels for more!

Here’s a pro-tip for all you Instagrammers out there! If like me, no trip is complete for you without ensuring total envy from all who follow you on IG, then this tool is a must for you! Preview allows you to draft and visualise how to layout all of the cool holiday snaps you take before you share them with your IG audience. See above a preview of my preview app in action! If you have a good travel eye you might even guess which city we will be posting about next!

Extra Bonus! Skyscanner

Free

Available for Apple and Android

From the Plane Window

Views like this are only a click away from your handy Skyscanner app

Still reading? Good things come to those who read articles in full! Skyscanner is hands down our favourite travel booking app. Being from Australia, for us, most trips start will booking flights. With the Skyscanner app you can get alerts sent straight to your phone on any future flights you’re keen to take at the best price. These alerts will let you know whenever prices rise or drop helping you to get the best deal. You can also of course have it open whilst reading blogs like ours to check all the flight options to your next destination with many search parameters such as most direct flight, cheapest, lowest flight time etc and check dates for up to six months in the future. If you don’t have it already (what are you doing with your life!?) just kidding, but seriously, download it now!

We hope you enjoyed our list! If you’d like to save it for later please click on: (Downbubble’s Top 5 Travel Apps for 2017)for a free downloadable pdf with all hyperlinks available. If you have also traveled recently and have an app to add to the list we’ve love to hear from you in the comments section below! Happy travel planning! Erin & Ryan

Our list isn't long, the apps aren't all new or obscure, in fact some of them you may even already have! But our list is tried and tested over 6 months of flashpacking through a couple of continents: these were the apps we used every single day. Make sure you've got all 5 too!