I remember when I got my first computer in 1998 and was so excited that I could play Chip's Challenge at home instead of at my aunt's house. It was so awesome to be able to type up my book reports instead of using my godfather's typewriter. Nowadays, one of my bosses will always chuckle because I can find an app for almost anything. My, how time has changed. I slightly hate how attached to my phone I have become (for the sake of running this blog), but on a good note, is the fact that my phone and the apps I have downloaded have saved me in Europe a few too many times. But, I believe in working smarter not harder.
Fun fact: I did not utilize cell phone data at all while abroad. I relied strictly on wifi and got along beautifully (although, if you are in secluded locations, it is not as easy). These apps aided in that experience and allowed me to see the glory Europe had to offer me.
We know that I love hostels and think they are a FABULOUS outlet for meeting others while traveling solo. I appreciate Hostelworld's app because I was able to skim through and check out various options for lodging before booking directly. You do have the option for booking through Hostelworld, but sometimes hostels would give discounts for booking directly, and personally, I did not want to go through a third party. Since I was pretty much traveling on a whim, I was able to compare the average price among cities before committing. In fact, seeing that there were no hostels in Geneva through the app saved me from booking that $40 flight only to spend $200 on hostels.
I did a post on my love for Rome2Rio back in April, but I needed to let you all know about it again because it's that clutch. The same way Hostelworld helped me make decisions about the next city / country to visit, so did Rome2Rio. We already know that I adore Google flights, but Rome2Rio digs a little bit deeper and gives you more options for travel. I was able to see bus, train, boat, or plane routes as well as prices and time duration all in one screen. I could then make a sound decision if I wanted to save time or money (it almost always ended up being money, lol). This app really lives up to its name, because if you wanted to literally plan a trip from Rome to Rio, you could. I use it in my day-to-day life, and rely on it heavily when I am abroad.
Huh? No, that's not a typo. I need you to understand why I am including this. To my surprise, the app functions while offline (i.e. when you're roaming around without wifi and data available). As long as I had a pin dropped for my location before stepping outside of my hostels, I was able to navigate throughout a city. Why was this useful? I refuse to advertise myself as a tourist by walking around with a map spinning around. I already look different, I do not need to draw more attention to myself as a solo female traveler. I did a lot of walking, and having the lovely blue circle guide me was invaluable and kept me away from winding up in a creepy dark alley. Winning.
This was another surprise for me, but Apple has done a great job with the upgrade on the Notes app. The simple addition of pictures and freestyle writing has made it more user-friendly. When I would decide what cities I would venture off to, I'd keep a running list of a few things I'd like to do while there. I already use the notes app for keeping lists of hashtags for my Instagram account, so I was very appreciative of not having to switch out to another app. When I would see a beer I wanted to try or a museum I wanted to visit, I'd add it to that note for the particular city and wouldn't need to worry about internet bookmarks or browsing through my TEN THOUSAND photos on my phone.
Last, but not least, the app that I use just about every day while in Texas, is an app I obsessed over while in Europe. Sometimes I would go off of recommendations for friends or locals, but when I was in the mood to explore (almost always), I loved checking out the Yelp reviews. Pictures tell the story and since I'm such a visual learner, I want to know what to expect before arriving. For the most part, Yelp reviews are pretty spot on. I thoroughly enjoy the categories, the "trending now" feature, and it detecting your location so you can find hot spots that are close. I knew which nights to hit the bars and would read tips prior to finding out that a museum was closed (only happened once).
Bonus: Apps I Will Try Out The Next Time I'm Abroad
- A currency converter. Euros and pesos were pretty easy for me to figure out, but the further away from the US I go, the harder the conversions can get.
- Trip Advisor. Apparently, Trip Advisor is the go to for company and hostel reviews. So, even though I'm a proud Yelp elite member, I'll give them a whirl.
- Google Translate. Thankfully, I was able to get by on my English, Spanish, and French. European countries are pretty accommodating when it comes to English but I get worried about visiting destinations like Southeast Asia. Simple translations prepared will save me some time and frustration I am sure.
Europe was a dream and I am glad that the designers of the apps thought about the little people like myself. It gave me ease and I was able to focus on more important things like selecting my meal of the day. There are so many apps out there that are geared to travel, so if you have any that you rely on heavily, definitely leave a note in the comments.
What's an app that you're obsessed with? Let's chat.
Note: I would like to thank #WOCinTech for the glorious stock photo used for this post.