It wasn’t until I was twenty-one that my first international trip (a cruise to Jamaica and Mexico with such little time spent at port that I can hardly consider it international travel). Up until two years ago I had also never traveled alone. Needless to say, when I decided to sell all of my belongings, quit my job and embark on a solo adventure around the world in 2016, I wasn’t the most experienced traveler. A handful of awkward moments, missed flights, and miscommunications later (ok… more than a few), I have picked up a few tips and tricks that have made my travels a bit easier.
Read below for information on my favorite travel apps that have helped streamline my trip planning so that I can enjoy the exploration part of travel more and worry a little less about logistics. Do have an travel app that you love that didn’t make the list? I would love to hear about it in the comments!
I had just purchased a new condo and was in the process of starting a new business, dealing with the worst period of depression I had ever experienced, and had just learned that my new upstairs neighbor was a screamer with a squeaky bed. I had not slept in weeks when I was recounting my issues to some close friends and they asked if I had ever tried a white noise machine. The next day, they dropped one off and that little piece of dreamy machinery quickly became one of my favorite ever self-care tools.
When I decided to travel I tried to justify squeezing it into my backpack, but the real estate just wasn’t available. Fortunately our phones can replace a lot of technology and I was thrilled to find an app that met my white noise demands, aptly named White Noise. It has been my sleep savior multiple times when I have been in hotel rooms with too thin walls, noisy streets outside (hello, Ho Chi Minh City), or sleeping on couches. I even use it with headphones on airplanes, buses and trains or when I’m trying to concentrate in noisy coffee shops or hotel lobbies. It can be challenging to sleep in new locations and even more challenging to concentrate and this app does the trick for me every single time.
It comes with a wide range of tracks including heavy rain, clothes dryer, cats purring (if that’s your thing) and tibetan singing bowls if the static noise isn’t your style. I like to keep it simple though and my most-played track is the Brown Noise. You can also set a timer to have the app shut off after a specified amount of time to save battery after you fall asleep.
You can purchase the full app here for $0.99 or try the free version before committing. If you are curious about ramping up sleep quality in your own space and giving your self-care an easy boost, I also recommend that you check out the Dohm White Noise Machine that started it all for me.
Making your space away from home feel homey can also help you get good quality sleep no matter where you are in the world. Check out my article 3 Ways to Make Anywhere Feel Like Home for my top tips on doing so.
Getting around new cities can be tricky if you don’t have cell phone service or regular access to wifi. Maps.me is a great solution as it allows you to download offline versions of maps that can be used even without an internet connection. You will need to download the maps you need before arriving to your destination and they take a bit of space on your phone, so if your travels take you to multiple locations, you may need to delete older destinations before downloading new ones. Regardless of phone space, this app has saved me on multiple occasions, especially in locations with minimal or limited internet access (hello Asia).
You can download Maps.me for free here.
Skyscanner and Rome2Rio
Before booking travel anywhere, I look at both of these apps to help me determine the cheapest and most efficient methods of transport. Skyscanner searches multiple websites to find you the best flight prices between destinations and also quickly allows you to see what dates are cheapest to travel on. Rome2Rio will give you all transport options for arriving between two destinations whether by bus, train, car-sharing, or plane. The app also includes an estimate of transport cost as well as time of trip so you can make the best decision based on your budget and schedule.
This one doesn’t actually help with the logistics of travel, but its a fun app for tracking which countries and U.S. states you have visited. The interactive map helps you appreciate just how big our little world is, and there’s a good chance that every time you open it, the uncolored countries will leave you with a hefty dose of wanderlust (have I really only seen 12% of the world?!).
You can download Been for free here.
When I was planning my travels, I knew I wanted a high quality and light weight camera with a small learning curve. After weeks of research, I landed on the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mirrorless Digital Camera. This trusty camera is always by my side and I have been really happy with my purchase, but one of my favorite features is the OI.Share app that adds to my camera’s functionality. The app can turn your phone into a camera remote, which is perfect for solo travelers, and I am able to download photos immediately to my phone when its connected to my camera via bluetooth, which helps feed my Instagram addiction.
If you have any Olympus model camera, you can download the OI.Share app here for free.
I love to send postcards to friends and family, but I am Queen at purchasing the perfect one, never filling it out, and finding it weeks later crumpled in the bottom of my bag. I mean, I have tried a dozen or more times to send a real post card, but it turns out its just not my style, and sometimes you need to let the Universe have its way.
Postagram has been my favorite solution as it allows me to upload my own photos to create custom postcards to send to the contacts in my phone. The finished product also allows receivers to pop out the small photo that has your text on the back, leaving them with an Instagram worthy memento from your travels. I like that I can personalize the card by adding a photo I have personally snapped, and it logistically makes it easier for me to send hellos, happy birthdays, and thank yous to friends easily from anywhere in the world.
You can download Postagram for free here. Post cards cost $1.99 to send, although I recommend purchasing a package of postcards, so that you can send in bulk for a less expensive price.
BONUS: Heads Up
I know this one doesn’t seem like it is travel related, but this app has been an ice breaker in many situations around the world and has provided plenty of entertainment when waiting for delayed transportation. It is a quick game with a low learning curve and highly interactive, so it will get people chatting (and laughing) in no time and is appropriate for all ages.
You can download Heads Up! for $0.99 here. The app comes with a handful of decks, but additional decks can be purchased in the app, if you find yourself playing too frequently.
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