When it comes to traveling, the age of travel agents is over. You are your own travel agent. So your trip will be as organized or disorganized as you make it. Disorganization will lead to missed opportunities and spending more money than you need to, while
Momondo is one of the newest additions to my go-to travel apps. My favorite flight app used to be Skyscanner, but we have found some cheaper flights with Momondo, which has earned it a spot on the list. How it works is you search where and when you want to go somewhere, then it brings up a list of the cheapest flights for that time and location, and then you get to choose which one you want! It saves you a lot of time and money. It’s great.
Skyscanner is a staple for finding cheap flights. We’ve used it for years and love it. It usually saves us around $30-$40 each time we book tickets. It functions essentially the same as Momondo, and while we have found cheaper flights with Momondo, we still check with Skyscanner because we’ve had such good experiences with it.
Blay is critical for keeping me sane on long trips. If you are just flying to one location, then you may not find this particularly useful, but if you are keeping track of a lot of flights, then this one is key. The app allows you to input your flight data, which it then stores on your feed. You are able to quickly scan through and check what airline you are flying with or when your next flight is. It also updates you of any delays that occur. It’s a simple concept, but totally functional and efficient. The really helpful part is all the info is stored in a readily accessible, cleanly organized place. For example, one time we planned a trip covering parts Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. I plugged in all our flight data before the trip and saw any gaps we needed to fill in. Then throughout the trip, I was able to quickly and easily access the information we needed while navigating airports. It was fantastic.
4. Google Translate
Google Translate is clutch for working with foreign languages. It’s as good, if not better, than most translation apps out there. It can help you find out how to communicate key words or phrases. And in some cases you can even hold you phone camera up to the foreign text and Google can provide a rough translation. It’s really pretty amazing, but the text-translation feature is only available for certain languages.
5. Grab App
Grab is South East Asia’s version of Uber. It’s easy to use and great in certain city contexts. It is available across most countries in SE Asia, and you can pay with cash, which is really helpful in cash-based societies. It is also way easier to be able to set your destination and know the rate in advance. It beats bartering with a cab driver who may or may not even know where you are trying to go. Although in some major cities it may not be practical. For example, we don’t use it in Bangkok because the traffic makes it nearly impossible to get one without waiting at least 20 minutes, but we use it all the time in Chiang Mai where they show up within 2-5 minutes.
It also has cool options to hire a driver for extended periods (2, 4, 6, and 8 hours), catch a ride with a motorbike, and earn rewards points for every ride you take! Again, these features are dependent on region and won’t be available everywhere.
Uber is, well, Uber. The transportation giant exists in many places throughout the world, not just the US. So keep it on your phone if you want to skip the cabs and see more of the city on your terms.
7. Air Asia
Our go to airline for South East Asia is Air Asia. People sometimes complain because it’s a budget airline, but we’ve never had an issue. Honestly, we love it. We regularly carry backpacks that don’t fit the requirements and pretty much never have a problem (we did run into slight issues in the Philippines and Vietnam). The price is right, and the flights are reliable. The only real bummer is they don’t even give you free water on the flight.
8. Norwegian Air
Norwegian Air is our go-to airline for Europe. While there are many budget airlines now competing for the top spot, Norwegian Air was groundbreaking in their cheap flights, and we’ve been fans ever since. Again, there are always complaints with budget airlines, but we’ve always had generally good experiences.
Airbnb is one of the best ways to find places to stay. They are unparalleled in offering beautiful, unique, aesthetically appealing accommodations. Airbnb offers you cabins on a mountainside, bubbles on the beach, and everything in between. Seriously, if you are not doing research on Airbnb for your trip, you are doing something very, very wrong.
I love Booking.com for a couple different reasons. First, the app is very organized in storing your bookings. I don’t usually book through the app, but it’s how I view all my bookings. They arrange them by date so you can keep track of where you are at in your trip. Or, during the planning stages, it can help you spot any gaps. Second, if you use it enough you attain “Genius” status, which earns you discounted bookings. Third, the app itself is very useful. It stores your bookings offline, so if you don’t have wifi or a sim card, you can still get to the barebones (address, dates) of your booking. And they have a hotline for almost every country that you can call if you have any issues. I’ve have had great experiences with Booking.com and highly recommend it.
Another tip, pick one service (i.e. Booking.com, Agoda, Hostelworld) and stick with it. I’ve used multiple on one trip and it’s a nightmare. It’s way easier to use one service, even if you pay a couple more dollars here and there, to have all of the data stored in one place. It makes your trip way less confusing.
Best Travel Apps: Finance/Security
Above are the best apps we use for getting to where we are going, seeing the sights, and finding a place to stay. However, another important part of travel is accessing your funds safely. To do that, I use these apps.
When traveling, you should have a VPN app. For those who don’t know, (I had to look it up and learn) a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet. Basically, it is supposed to help prevent other people from messing with your stuff or stealing your information on public/non-secured networks. We use it as a safeguard when we are on public networks. Windscribe is the VPN we use. It’s free for up to ten GB’s of data, which is great, and it’s reliable and easy to use.
The XE Converter is a necessary app for traveling. It allows you to get real-time currency conversion information. This will allow you to properly convert prices while shopping or getting food. For example, if the price for a cool elephant shirt is 200 baht, but you don’t know what that is in US dollars, you can type in 200 baht and find out. It’s crucial for staying on budget and making
Last, but not least, be sure to take advantage of mobile banking. Most major banks have an app for you to keep track of your finances. This is really helpful while traveling. With the app, you can keep an eye out to make sure you are the only one spending your money while on your trip. Also, most apps will allow you to make travel plans, alerting your bank of where you will be when. If you can’t do it on the app, then you need to do it by phone. Trust me on this one, it’s important. You don’t want to find yourself in a car, driving through Indonesia unable to pull out money because your bank thinks your card is compromised while knowing you somehow need to pay the driver when you get dropped off. I mean that’s just an example, not necessarily a personal experience (haha). Anyway, contact your bank in advance.