This week I’m off to Prague, which means packing. Ugh. Do you hate packing too? Luckily, a big chunk of my travel must-haves are clever apps. They require minimal effort, don’t compromise luggage space (or even need packing), and are kind to the purse. These are my seven pearls of wisdom for travel apps and programmes that you need in your travel life.
I’m always surprised when people tell me they haven’t heard of, let alone, used Spotify. It’s a free music app that you can use on your mobile or on your laptop/PC. It allows you to listen to whatever music (charts, country, pop – you name it, it’s on there). Forget downloading a song/album or CDs. Spotify basically streams music (legally). Don’t worry, the music is clear and crisp – you’d never be able to guess. Well, I spose the only give away is the adverts every once in a while (unless you pay for the premium subscription). They’re short so it shouldn’t really bother you though. You can even create playlists by simply dragging and dropping. If like me, you never really want to commit to one style of music and change your mind as often as you travel, this is for you.
♥ TripAdvisor City Guides App
If you’re looking for a free app for your mobile that can show you a whole list of recommended restaurants and things to do/see in one given destination, then you’ll like this one. The recommendations are linked to TripAdvisor so you can read real reviews at an easy click of a button. It also has a super useful map function that can pinpoint your location (using GPS, rather than expensive internet data). It can guide you to your chosen venue/activity with a simple compass style arrow. This app is so easy to use and really helpful. I’ve trialled it in Munich and Marrakech, and will be using it in Prague.
♥ Kindle Reader
Did you know that you can still use this reader without the official Kindle device. I have a Samsung tablet that works perfectly with it. The free app allows me to shop for electronic books via Amazon. It even pops up with recommended reads based on my previous choices. This is perfect if, like me, you’re never quite sure which books are the good ones. You can also just hit the top 100 free books list for inspiration. With one click of a button you can download your book to your device (you’ll need wifi for this bit). This usually takes mere seconds. You then have a book to read at your own leisure (regardless of internet connection). The best thing about the Kindle reader is you never have to compromise your luggage space for paper companions. Oh, and the fact that you could take a million books if you wanted to, though some may say that would be a tad excessive.
You’ll love this free tool. Do you ever remember to pack a torch on your travels? I certainly don’t, but I always have my phone. Sitting round a campfire in India is romantic and fun, but come night time when you need to head back to your room it can soon be tricky navigating the route in the pitch black. Yep, there is absolutely minimal light pollution in some places so it is dark. Really dark. With this app you can adjust the brightness of the torch (you’ll want a lower setting if you’re in a bug zone) and there’s no annoying noise to accompany it. Just a useful torch at a click of a button.
♥ XE Converter
The simplicity of XE Converter is genius. You don’t have to sign in or sign up, or enter a million details. Just enter an amount, select the currency you’re using and what you want to convert it to and it will give you a figure straight away. I tend to use this one on my laptop, rather than my phone. It’s straightforward and gives you the facts when you need them. Maths made easy.
♥ Tube Map
This award winning tool is another free app for your phone. It’s by mxData Ltd and is ridiculously helpful. If you’re a non-Londoner like me, it will help you to navigate the tubes like those professional commuters you see whizzing past. Once downloaded, you can use it with or without internet. It has a simple tube map for quick reference, as well as options for planning a specific route (it will tell you which tube lines you’ll need for your chosen destination). If you’re connected to the internet, it can also keep you informed of any delays and closures. I never tire of this app.
Rather than having an actual person at your side throughout your travels, I’d suggest you download an app to your phone. There are loads of translator tools out there, but I favour iHandy Translator. It’s free, which is always a good thing and it’s easy to use. Just type your word/phrase into whichever of the fifty two languages you want. Ping! It then translates it for you. It’s great for help with foreign menus or if you need to communicate the basics with a new found friend.
I hope you find these travel apps and programmes helpful. If you have any favourite ones please drop me a comment and let me know. Happy travels! X