Holidays and travel are amazing, but sometimes they can feel like a lot of work, too. But they don’t have to. Here are 12 FREE apps to help make your next trip easy and awesome.
1. PackPoint Travel Packing List
I have a (rather silly) recurring dream that always comes when I’m preparing for a trip. I’m at the airport, checking in for my flight, when I realise I’ve forgotten a bunch of things I never leave home without. Nothing *technically* essential: just make-up or jewellery. But I’m a vain, superficial person, so to me it’s a crisis.
But with PackPoint, that dream will never come true. Just enter your destination, travel dates and some info about your trip and PackPoint will create a packing list tailored to your needs. It covers all the basics (and some!) and uses weather data to recommend appropriate clothing. You can even add your own items (e.g.: a ridiculous amount of make-up and jewellery) to fully personalise your list.
Citymapper is part map, part transport guide, and all awesome. It combines public transport timetables with real-time transit alerts to give you the quickest, easiest route to wherever you want to go. It’s still relatively new, with only 30 cities around the world covered so far (including Sydney and Melbourne), but they’re adding new destinations all the time. Vote for your favourite city here.
It’s not a holiday until you’ve spammed your jealous friends and family with a hundred photos a day. So make sure they look their best. Snapseed is Google’s complete, professional, and still totally FREE photo-editing app. It’s incredibly easy to use, with both simple filters and manual touch-up tools, and even the filters will make your pics look amazing. Plus it’s not just for camera photos. Synch it to your Dropbox and you can easily access and edit your camera pics (including your fancy DSLR snaps) as well.
Travelling with friends and family is great! But splitting expenses and doing restaurant maths… not so much. Enter Splittr to save the day (and your relationships). Just add your expenses as you go and Splittr will tell you whose turn it is to pay next and who owes what. It works offline, so you don’t need to use any of your precious roaming data and it can even analyse where and how you’ve spent your money (hopefully without judgement).
5. XE Currency
When it comes to cash and travelling overseas, there’s more to keep track of than just whose shout it is next (I’m looking at you, Mark). There’s also exchange rates, which can change every day, making it tricky to calculate how much you’re really spending. That’s where you need the XE Currency app. Not only does it have up-to-date exchange rates for all of the world’s currencies, but it also has a currency calculator, so you don’t have to do any maths. Too easy!
6. Duolingo: Learn Languages Free
Learning new languages is part of the fun of travelling (even if all you remember afterwards is how to say “Two beers, please”). So why not embrace the fun with Duolingo, a super cute app that uses games to teach you another language (or two… or three… ). It’s safely G-rated, so the whole family can play, and it’s quick – you can start with just five minutes of practice a day. But don’t let the short lessons and cartoony pics fool you: 34 hours on Duolingo is equivalent to a whole semester of university-level education 😲
7. Google Translate
Even if you ace your Duolingo lessons and master all 68 of its language courses (I believe in you), once you’re on your trip you’re bound to come across the odd word you don’t recognise. Not a problem when you’ve got Google Translate. Type a word, draw the characters, or take a photo of a sign to translate between 32 to 103 different languages (depending on the function you use and whether or not you’re online). It can even transcribe and translate a two-way conversation, which is a liiiittle creepy. It’s not 100% accurate (voice recognition is a developing technology), especially if you go out of your way to trick it (guilty) but you’ll still get the gist.
For travel within Oz, this app is a lifesaver – literally. If you’re like me, you barely know where you are in your own city, let alone a new one. Which is fine most of the time, but what if you find yourself in a situation where you or someone you’re with needs urgent help? Enter Emergency+. It tells you EXACTLY where you are, right down to your coordinates, almost anywhere in Australia, and it includes all the emergency and assistance numbers you could ever need (including info on calling via the National Relay Service).
I never really got Uber. I live in Sydney, where there are taxis everywhere, and I know (roughly) the way to my house. But I tried it in the US and… whoa. Uber is the perfect transport when you don’t quite know where you are or how to get where you need to go. The drivers have their own version of the app, which tells them the way to go, so they won’t ask you for directions (do I look like someone who knows where they’re going?). And there’s something so addictive about watching your driver’s progress as you wait for your ride. What are you doing spinning around on that roundabout, Brandon?
Need to find a restaurant? Or an ATM? Or a supermarket, cinema, petrol station, or pub? AroundMe has got you covered. Just type in the service or amenity you’re looking for (or select one from the list of popular searches) and AroundMe will serve up a list of options, with their addresses and distance from your location. Click on one you like and it’ll bring up an info page with a Google Map, the business’s website, their contact number, and even their Yelp reviews. No more wandering aimlessly through an unfamiliar city (unless you want to).
11. SitOrSquat: Restroom Finder
I’ll level with you – I downloaded this app for the lols. I’ve got a reputation as someone who pees a lot (I like to stay hydrated, OK?), so an app that locates and rates public bathrooms didn’t just sound like something I needed – it sounded like something I should have invented. But you know what? SitOrSquat is actually brilliant. SitOrSquat uses your phone’s location data to show you all the public bathrooms near you. They’re rated by users, with good bathrooms earning green “Sit” toilet rolls (meaning it’s safe to sit down) and not-so-good ones earning red “Squat” toilet rolls (meaning you might want to hover). You can filter to find free (yep, some places make you pay to pee), accessible, and baby-friendly bathrooms. There’s even an option to add reviews and photos, in case you’re really, really passionate about toilets.
The only downside? Seeing how many “Squat” toilets are out there right now.
12. The Wotif app
Yep, I’ve saved the best for last. If you book your trips on Wotif (and why wouldn’t you? 😉), the Wotif app is a must-have. It’s easy to search on, you can book in a couple of clicks, and it gives you access to secret Mates Rates deals that’ll save you up to 50% on select hotels. And that’s before you even leave home. While you’re travelling, it also sends you mobile alerts about flight delays, lets you to manage and change your bookings as you go, and can share your itinerary with friends and family back home so you can keep them in the loop (or brag).DOWNLOAD THE WOTIF APP