There is no denying that back in the day traveling the world was a lot less convenient than it is now. Thanks to our cell phones, we can organize, track, schedule, and navigate ourselves with just one small device. My iPhone is vital for me to be able to travel the way I do and I am so grateful always to feel it in my pocket, ready to help out whenever necessary. If you are planning an upcoming trip to Europe, there are a variety of apps and websites that can help make your plans go more seamlessly and worry-free, so you can focus on the more important things like actually seeing Europe. I have downloaded and tested out a gazillion apps, but I don’t like to have anything unnecessary on my phone. So, these are the ones that have a permanent place on my home screen and that I find myself using again and again.
For Getting From Place to Place
Everyone has an opinion on their favorite app/website to find cheap flights, but Skyscanner is my go-to. I book 100% of my flights through Skyscanner and am always amazed by the deals I come across. While I do have the app on my phone, I prefer to use the web version, as it is easier to compare and contrast a range of dates. I have heard that other websites also allow you to search for flights from an airport/country to “everywhere,” but Skyscanner was the first one I encountered and — what can I say? — I am a loyal person. I don’t tend to fly too much around Europe; instead, I plan trips based on obvious routes that trains and buses can take. But, sometimes, flying is the best option, and Skyscanner is always there for me with irresistible prices.
Generally, my cheap flights around Europe are on Ryanair. As they usually charge you for the privilege of printing out your ticket at the airport (my sister and I had to pay a ridiculous amount of money at the airport in Corfu a few years ago just for a mean lady to write out our tickets IN PEN), I keep the app downloaded on my phone at all times. I have no qualms flying budget airlines; I am more interested in getting to see the world than experiencing any overwhelming luxury on the way. Just be prepared to bring your own snacks, water, and blankets. Given that flying around Europe only takes a maximum of 5 hours, it is never too bad.
A fantastic app when looking for the best way to get from place to place, Go Euro searches all the trains, buses, and flights between destinations so that you can find the best deal at the perfect time. This is a must when gallivanting around Europe!
A German-based bus company, Flix Bus has “250000 daily connections to around 1700 destinations in over 27 different European countries”. This trip I have already taken several Flix Buses and have been pleased with the service. Similar to the Megabus in the United States (and the UK), Flix Bus provides low-cost, reliable bus travel. Every bus I have boarded has been on time, comfortable, and easy. Their app is fantastic and updates you on the buses movements and keeps all your itineraries in one place.
Another option in Europe is Bla Bla Car, an online site for carpooling. Using either the website or the app, you can search the route you want to take and then see if any drivers are heading that way. If there is, you pay a small amount to split the cost of the journey and then you are on your way!
The primary booking website for Trains in the UK, the Trainline also has a European site that searches all possible train schedules. If you book in advance there are often great deals and, as each European country tends to have a variety of train providers, it means you don’t have to check each one individually.
A necessity when traveling, I don’t think Uber needs any introduction. I rarely take taxis in Europe (thanks to their excellent public transportation), but I always want to make sure I have another option at my disposal — just in case.
That being said, Germany banned Uber so, instead, they use Mytaxi — a taxi app — which works in over 100 European cities. While I haven’t yet needed to use it (again thumbs up public transportation), I still have it downloaded just in case. It also works throughout Europe. If you don’t have an international cellular package on your phone and you haven’t bought a local SIM with data, then you aren’t going to be able to use these apps.
For Somewhere to Sleep
When traveling, I split my time between hostels, Couchsurfing, and Airbnb. I can go into how I decide which one to use in another post (if you are interested?), but for finding hostels, I always use Hostelworld. Their app is just as good as their website and being permanently logged in makes it quick and simple to book a bed. As most travelers also use Hostelworld, there are plenty of reviews and references for each place, and I usually decide based on a mixture of high rating and price. When you book on Hostelworld, you pay a deposit and then settle the remaining balance upon arrival. I highly recommend paying the additional small fee for “flexible booking,” which allows you to cancel and rebook as many times as your changing plans need, without losing your booking deposit. Instead, it gets credited back to your Hostelworld.com account and can be re-used for future bookings.
As a massive proponent of Couchsurfing, this is a must app for me while traveling. From the app, I can send out Couchsurfing requests to hosts, see who is around to hang-out and what events are happening where I currently am. I can leave reviews for previous hosts and efficiently communicate with up-coming hosts. Additionally, if you don’t already have it, download WhatsApp before traveling in Europe. The majority of Europeans use WhatsApp as the primary mode of communication and, once I have confirmed a stay with a Couchsurfing host, we usually move to message through this app.
Last but not least, we have Airbnb. Out of the three of these ways to procure a place to sleep, the Airbnb app is my least favorite. I find it easier to navigate their website than their app. But, it is crucial to have the app to communicate with hosts, to save the details of how to reach the place, and to quickly leave reviews when on-the-go.
For Getting Around
Everyone’s favorite mapping system, Google Maps works incredibly. During my “research sessions” before landing in a place, I save everywhere that I want to go and explore, making it easy to see what is near when I am wandering. I love that it tells you tram and train schedules, bike and walking routes, and I know I will never get lost (if I don’t want to) while having it in my pocket.
Before having unlimited data on my phone, I would always use Maps.me. While on wifi, download the map of the city you are going to, and then it works offline. You can pin places of interest and then bring it up while you are out exploring. It also shows you points of interest, restaurants, and the like that locals recommend. I used it all over eastern Europe last year, and it worked perfectly.
I am awful with currency, so I make it a daily morning habit of reminding myself of what the current exchange rates are. Otherwise, I tend just to spend and not worry about it as long as I am not going too crazy (DO NOT BE LIKE ME!!!!). XE Currency is the best app I have come across because it is easy to use, you can compare multiple currencies at once, and I love the interface.
Trail Wallet is a beautifully laid-out, seamless app for tracking your expenses. What I love about Trail Wallet is that you can organize your spendings by country or by month, set your max daily budgets, and then add each dollar/euro/pound you’ve spent on the go. This enables you to see on a day-by-day basis how much you are spending. At the end of the month, it will tell you if you have gone over your budget and where the $$$ went. This helps you analyze where you are spending too much (cough coffee cough), as well as which locales are the best for stretching your budget in the future.
Which apps do you like to use while traveling? Any fantastic ones I don’t know? Let me know in the comments below!
*Originally published on May 2nd, 2018*