There’s no denying that smartphones have made our lives so much easier, and not just because they have put Google and Facebook at our fingertips, along with a seemingly endless array of viral pet videos that suck away an inordinate amount of our free time.
Smartphones, too, have made travelling, whether in the Philippines or abroad, cheaper than most people would think and more convenient than ever. Here are 10 travel apps that are worth checking out, if you haven’t already.
1. Google Keep
One of the best note-taking and to-do list apps for Android and iOS, Keep, is indeed very handy, especially when travelling. A new update adds drawing tools to the productivity software, allowing you to doodle your thoughts and ideas and insert annotations in photos, which could prove very useful if you’re trying to get a local to help you find a location on a map or look up that restaurant you read about in a glossy travel magazine.
The travel review and ratings website is also available in app form. Fire it up to get a crowdsourced list of the city’s must-see attractions, must-visit restaurants, and must-stay places, as well as customer reviews of places of interest. Think of it as the app equivalent of a huge library of travel books and magazines but with advice and tips you won’t likely find elsewhere.
Traveling can be expensive enough when you consider the cost of hotels. Thankfully, apps such as Airbnb allow you to do it on a budget. The short-term rental platform offers a substitute to hotels and can help you find a spare bedroom or an inexpensive hostel, with over 2 million listings worldwide, including the Philippines. So the next time you travel across the country, or even overseas, you may want to give Airbnb a try and save some money in the process.
Frequent travelers know all too well that keeping track of travel information — for flights, hotels, car rentals, and more — can be an arduous task. It doesn’t have to be, though. You can download TripIt for free and let it do all the hard work for you.
The app-based service scans your email for all relevant documentation, such as confirmation emails, and compiles them into a master itinerary that can be accessed on your smartphone. A “Pro” subscription, which costs $49 a year, gets you additional perks, including real-time flight alerts, seat tracking, and refund notifications, among others.
5. Google Translate
As the name implies, this Google-powered app translates text, speech, and even images from one language into another, the importance of which cannot be overstated when you’re in a foreign country, surrounded by complete strangers. While it certainly has its limitations — for starters, some languages produce better translations than others — Google Translate is still a far better alternative than trying to get around the language barrier by acting out what you want to say.
Apps such as Airbnb and Skyscanner allow you to travel overseas on a budget.
Buying a seat on a plane isn’t as expensive as you might think. And sometimes the best way to snag cheap commercial flights is through your smartphone, with the use of a flight search engine like Skyscanner, which compares airfare data across hundreds of airlines daily to get you the best deal possible.
Aside from Skyscanner, another app you should consider before you book your next flight is Hopper. Why? Because it may lead to cheaper fares, of course. The app compares airfare rates among different airlines daily and figures out the optimal time to purchase a ticket, which is when fares bottom out. The service will even send you a push notification when the price of a particular flight drops significantly.
If you live in Metro Manila, chances are, you’ve heard about an app-based, ride-hailing service called Uber. Basically, what Uber brings to the table is the ability to summon a ride using a smartphone app and pay the fare through the app using a credit or debit card. Think Airbnb, but for (relatively cheaper) rides within the city.
9. WiFi Finder
As any international jetsetter would tell you, data roaming prices remain expensive, even in 2015. But rather than buying a local SIM, it may be a good idea to find a coffee shop or hotel that offers a decent WiFi connection. But how do you go about doing that in a foreign city? That’s where WiFi Finder comes in. It uses your phone’s GPS to deliver basic information about the nearest public hotspots in your vicinity at your fingertips.
Instagram: Because the vacation never happened without the group photos — and selfies — to prove it.
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