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Ten Essential (and Free) Travel Apps

Airbnb

If you’re not already on the bandwagon and booking your accommodation through Airbnb, you’re doing your holidays wrong. Airbnb allows you to stay in houses and apartments, often away from the tourist-y areas, and for a price that’s usually cheaper than staying in a hotel you get a place with a living room, kitchen and, if you’re lucky, washing machine. The app allows you to search for accommodation, make accommodation wish lists to share with your travel buddies, track all your trips, and message your accommodation host.

Tricount

A great way to sort out shared travel expenses, Tricount allows you to split group bills between everyone you’re travelling with. Each time someone pays for a group expense, for example, a shared meal or taxi fare, enter their cost, who to split the expense amongst, and then the app tallies all the expenses and works out who owes who what. Much easier than trying to work out the maths yourself – give your brain a rest while on holiday!

TripAdvisor

Your source for food, bars, accommodation, and attraction reviews. Generally, I won’t eat somewhere unless it has at least 100 reviews and a 4-star rating. You only get three meals a day, so why waste them on bad food? TripAdvisor now lets you download cities offline and, although this feature doesn’t work perfectly, it’s handy to be able to search for a list and map of restaurants and things to do when you’re out and about without being dependent on dodgy Wi-Fi or roaming charges.

It’s handy to be able to search for a list and map of restaurants and things to do when you’re out and about without being dependent on dodgy Wi-Fi or roaming charges

XE Currency Converter

A fantastic currency conversion app. Download the necessary currencies when you have internet access, and then you can use the currency conversion feature offline when you’re out shopping or haggling at a street market.

Google Translate

Yes, this still needs Wi-Fi, but their feature that lets you hold your camera to text, translating it into English, doesn’t. This feature isn’t 100% accurate, but it is handy when you’re stuck trying to interpret a sign or a restaurant menu.  

Google Trips

Google Trips takes info from your Gmail and compiles your flight and accommodation booking details into trips (yes a bit creepy, I know). Separate trips can be created for different locations. Things to do, places to eat, public transport, and other Google recommendations are then automatically listed for each trip. Trips can be downloaded offline so you can see the location of good restaurants, or map and read about tourist attractions, including their opening times, without needing Wi-Fi.

Skyscanner

There are many different apps like Skyscanner, so use your favourite. I like Skyscanner because it is very user friendly. Search the flight you’re after, see the cheapest options, then go straight to the airlines’ website to book so that you can avoid the difficulties that come with booking through a second party (like Expedia etc.) such as dealing with adding checked baggage, or flight cancellations.

Cashew

If you’ve been living under a rock, you probably haven’t heard of Cashew, the Oxford start-up that is now a household name among Oxford students. Instead of having to remember the ten passwords needed to log in to your online bank account, then typing in your travel buddy’s bank details to pay them for that hostel they booked or that dinner they paid for, you can just create a Cashew account with your card details (and get your friend to make an account too), type in their name, the amount you want to transfer, and you’re done!

Google Maps

Google maps now lets you include multiple destinations in one route. You can load your route when you have Wi-Fi access and leave the app open on your phone. The GPS that tracks your position on the map will continue to work without Wi-Fi, and you can just follow the pre-mapped route! Also, you can use your Google account on your laptop to create a personal map, pinning your accommodation and the cafes and tourist attractions you want to visit. You can then load the map on to your Google Maps app so you will always know if you happen to be near a good coffee place or pretty park.

Uber

Ignoring the outrageous fact that Oxford doesn’t have Uber (despite the smaller town of Cambridge having full access to their convenient and affordable services) – you can still use Uber when you’re travelling to a city that has it. Before you leave home for your trip, make sure to create an account. When you arrive somewhere, instead of lining up at the airport taxi stand and paying more than you need to, use the airport Wi-Fi to hail an Uber and breeze past the taxi line-up.

All of the apps listed are available to download both on Android and Apple products.

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