Useful Links & Apps
- Airbnb is a brilliant site I’ve used almost every time I’ve traveled. Often a cheaper alternative to finding a hotel, airbnb allows you to “book unique accommodations around the world”. It’s nice to stay in a home, artsy apartment, or posh loft, and usually the host is a local with extensive knowledge about wherever you’re staying. Plus you don’t really have to worry about someone taking your stuff, which might be a concern in a hostel with a lot of foot traffic
- Tip: I like to message a host before requesting to stay somewhere. If you let them know who you and your friends/family are and a bit about what your plans are I think they’ll be more likely to accept your reservation
- Flickr is a great photo-sharing website, my own flickr includes many photos of my own travel experiences. You can create albums or just a continuous photostream, and set it to public or private depending on who you want to have access to your photos
- Megabus is a really useful site to find cheap bus routes. Even if you’re traveling from the UK you can still go to other countries by bus, they will take you across the English Channel either by driving the bus onto a ferry or onto a giant train that goes through the Chunnel
- Tip: Try to travel during the day if you don’t have time constraints, that way you won’t be groggy when traveling around a city the next day! You may be tempted to travel overnight for long trips, but if you’re going to another country you’ll probably have to go through immigration at some point. This means you’ll have to wake up, get off the bus, and get really annoyed at the people asking you questions about your student visa in the middle of the night…
- SkyScanner is incredibly helpful if you want to compare flights in an easy and organized way. You can filter search results by what time you’d like to depart or arrive, by price, by trip duration time (are you ok with layovers?) and so on
- TimeOut provides a cornucopia of information about any city you plan to visit. If you’re looking for a list of bars, restaurants, attractions, events, etc. this should be your go-to site. You can sort results by price if you’re on a budget (usually they have a list of free things to do as well) or what kind of stuff you’re looking to do, whether it be a sporting event or art gallery. I especially like that there is usually a list of must-sees if you’re only in a city for a short amount of time
- All of the sites listed above come in app-form, and provide a better interface than their mobile site counterparts
- CityMapper claims to be “the ultimate transport app” and I definitely have to agree. They use up-to-date transport information in 29 cities around the globe. Unlike google maps it can tell you how many more bus stops you have until getting off, and is constantly updating. It can even tell you how many calories you’re expected to burn by walking or cycling, and some cities even have a jetpack option! Unfortunately I’m still waiting for my jetpack to arrive in the mail 🙁
- Google Translate is something everyone should have on their phone when traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language. Even if you just need to order a coffee or ask for directions, locals generally appreciate it if you at least try to speak the language…even if it comes out as gibberish. Un café au lait s’il vous plaît!
- MAPS.ME is an app I never personally downloaded but many of my friends did (which is why I didn’t have to!). It allows you to have access to maps without any internet connection, which was great when my friends and I were lost in Marrakech… If your cell plan doesn’t provide service in a foreign country, or if you don’t have access to wifi this can be a lifesaver. It works everywhere and can give you directions to specific locations
- Yelp is a must-have if you want to be able to find food without having to wander around a city trying to find something yourself. The app allows you to type in which kind of food, bars, coffee shops, etc. you’re looking for and it will show you a map and a list of places nearby. It also lets you rate the places you go, so you can check beforehand if somewhere has one star or five.
- Any currency converter app is an essential, especially if you’re keeping track of everything you’re spending and can’t be bothered to keep your receipts