As good technophiles, our smartphone is a precious travel companion. Here is a summary of the applications we use.
Booking / Agoda
Indispensable applications for room reservations, Booking and Agoda offer accommodation absolutely everywhere on the planet.
You may not know it but Agoda belongs to the group… Priceline, just like Booking! So you will find almost the same offers on both applications.
Booking is more complete and proposes hotels that you won’t find on Agoda (except in Asia where Agoda has a more complete catalog).
Agoda has however a double interest:
- Special “mobile application special” offers allow you to benefit from time to time from a better price.
- In Asia, it is often possible to pay online while Booking offers a simple reservation with payment on the spot. Very practical when you prefer to pay by credit card without risk.
HostelWorld is a service specialized in youth hostel reservations, and offers some economic establishments that you can’t find on Booking.
In some cases, a hostel may be fully booked on Booking but still have beds available on HostelWorld.
On HostelWorld, you have to pay part of the price online as a down payment, which can be convenient in South America where you have to pay everything in cash (and it’s always a bit of a hassle and it’s expensive to withdraw cash).
Famous service for booking accommodation in private homes. We didn’t use it a lot during our trip because the process is quite heavy: booking, waiting for the owner’s confirmation, fixing an appointment, … not easy when you change place every 3 days on average.
We were quite happy to have this alternative in expensive areas such as Singapore, Macau or Paraguay in the middle of the carnival period.
Click on this link to get a 35 € voucher
A service that is highly criticized for its societal role, we must admit that as a customer, it is a great service!
Present in (almost) every major city in the world, Uber makes it possible to call a vehicle that will pick you up wherever you are even if there is no cab on the horizon.
Usually cheaper than a cab, one avoids the tiring negotiation phase and the risk of being ripped off. You don’t even have to get out of cash since you pay via the application.
An Uber tried to rip us off in Santiago by not stopping the race after dropping us off. Uber refunded us the whole race!
Benefit from a free race with the code uberUBERTOP
If you go to Asia, Uber is replaced by Grab (promo code Grab: GRABTOURDUMONDE). We explain how it works for Grab here
In Central and Eastern Europe, Taxify is very popular.
Probably the most useful application in the world, especially for a traveller with no sense of direction like me.
What a pleasure to be able to wander randomly in an unknown city without getting lost.
Two tips to know:
- It is possible to define “offline” zones to be able to use the application without being connected to the internet.
- The possibility to “tag” places to highlight them on the map: your hotel, the bus terminal, …
In some countries it isn’t possible to download “offline” areas, in which case the Maps.me application is an excellent alternative.
Indispensable when changing currency every 3 weeks. We use it of course to convert prices into euros but also to check if the rates offered by the exchange offices are correct.
Discovered late, this application is great! It’s a community application that lists Wifi networks… and their password.
The success rate is obviously not 100% because the password may have been changed or entered incorrectly, but I am very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the database.
It is possible to classify Wifi networks by distance but also by date of password update to maximize the chances that it works.
The offline base download feature is also very nice: I just downloaded the whole base in Rio De Janeiro (18,368 WiFi hotspots!).
The application is free but the advertising is quite intrusive. I paid with pleasure the 2 euros needed to remove it.
Using my smartphone as a camera, the Google Photos application syncs my photos in the cloud as soon as I’m connected to a WiFi.
No more stress of losing my photos. I would have blamed myself to death if I had lost all my pictures of South Africa and India when I broke my phone in Nepal!
On top of that, Google Photo will classify your photos by location, by theme, by date, … and even offer you editing or retouching.
Indispensable application used daily to choose our accommodations (and especially to avoid bed bugs). It allowed us to avoid being in slums or eating in dirty places.
To be used with full knowledge of the facts, however: the best rated places are those where there are the most tourists… Not ideal for going off the beaten track.
For restaurants, we prefer to ask the locals for advice.
I’m really impressed how popular this instant messaging bought by Facebook is around the world.
It’s very handy to be able to book the cab you’ve already taken on the way, to ask questions to a guide or to warn your hotel that you’re late, ..
In South America, many operators offer unlimited WhatsApp offers for a very low price (even for prepaid cards).
In some regions, however, WhatsApp isn’t the most popular messaging application. In Thailand or Japan it is Line. In the Philippines it is Viber. In China it is WeChat, …
Read our article on VPNs
Not easy to configure for beginners, OpenVPN allows us on one hand to encrypt and secure a connection (essential when using public WiFi all the time) and on the other hand to surf with a French IP (useful to avoid being constantly redirected to the Spanish versions of a site or to watch videos with geographical restrictions).
Google’s translation application is getting more and more impressive! It allowed us to be understood by Chinese people who didn’t speak a word of English. Its augmented reality feature is amazing, we were able to translate posters or menus into Mandarin!
It is possible to download the desired languages to be able to use the application without an internet connection, but at a lower quality (only one translation is offered, and there is no possibility to translate the audio in real time).
Preferred application of Anh for learning foreign languages. She used it assiduously during our stay in South America to learn Spanish and Portuguese, in parallel with the Michel Thomas audio method.
The app is based on the method of spaced repetition, a very effective and scientifically proven method of memorization (spaced repetition): it is necessary to revise regularly (5mn/day) but little. Because the more a word is anchored in long-term memory, the more the revisions are spaced out, which represents an enormous time saving. To find out if the word is anchored in long-term memory, the user, when revising, tells the application whether or not it is easy for him or her to remember the word.
The application isn’t free (4,99€) but it is worth the investment. Anh downloaded the 7 languages package at 18€ for our next European tour.
The application I recommend for those who are on Android.
On the iPhone, there is a Podcast application pre-installed on the phone and linked to the App Store.
I listen to a lot of podcasts, especially on our long bus trips. Anh prefers to listen to podcast channels dedicated to foreign language learning.
The advantage of podcasts is that they can be downloaded and listened to offline.
Anh uses this application to have the Lonely Planet (more info on travel guides here), conversation guides and big books on her phone.