Summer vacation season has just started. When your suitcases are already packed, and you’ve checked for the fourth time if you haven’t forgotten about anything, it’s worth to review a list of apps on your smartphone. They might turn out to be your best fried during your summer trips. They will let you save time and money but in the worst case scenario they might even save your life. Here is my shortlist of apps which I recommend you to download before going on vacation.
Google Maps are great. I use it as my main navigation and traffic app almost everyday. The only problem is that the app works online. But what happens if you’re not in the range of any mobile operator or abroad? You’ll need a paper map (which we recommend) or you’ll pay a fortune on roaming charges. The solution is offline navigation where you can download the map to your phone. The best free offline navigation app is HERE, which has been released couple of month ago by Nokia. It’s available for iOS, Android and Windows and it offers unlimited, offline map of almost every country in the world. It’s also probably the best free alternative to Google Maps anyway.
SUNNY OR NOT?
Long term weather forecasts are not very reliable but modern complex models allow to predict the atmospheric conditions up to 48h with quite high accuracy. This means that a good weather app will allow you to plan the next 2 days of your trip, so that you won’t stay in a museum today if tomorrow will be rainy. There are plenty of cool weather apps. You could spend a lot of time and money on testing each of them. There are really great apps for iOS like Dark Sky and for Android like Accu Weather Platinum but they cost a few bucks. The best free weather app offering a great design and most of the features of its premium competitors is Yahoo Weather. You can download it for iOS and Android. It’s really worth trying.
WHERE AM I?
We can be almost sure that in critical situation somewhere in the woods our phone won’t have a reception. The fact that we’re outside of the range of our mobile carrier doesn’t mean that our smartphone doesn’t see any other network. The alarm number 911 in the US and 112 in Europe will most likely still work. In theory E911/E112 system should precisely locate a phone during the call but in practice it’s always better to count on yourself, so that when we call for help we’ll be able to give the operator our exact geographic position. From unknown reasons most navigation apps providers hidden access to geographic coordinates very deeply inside apps, which means that in a crisis situation it might be difficult to find it. That’s way I recommend you to have a simple app with only one function – to display our coordinates. For iPhone the best choice is Coordinates Locator and for Android My LatLong app.
WHERE TO GO AND HAVE FUN
When we reach our destination, the question arises, where to go? When we complete the list of attractions from traveller guide it’s worth look for the “local flavours” – the coolest places where locals spend time. Most of us use or used services like Yelp or TripAdvisor but from my experience the best local discovery app is Foursquare.
This app, associated primarily as a check-in tool, changed its profile and turned into one of the best sites to explore the world around us. Why is it good? Because it will suggest you the most interesting, not the most popular venues to visit.
The application is available for iOS, Android and Windows.
BED & BREAKFAST
My favourite way of travelling is total improvisation. I select a destination and a time window and improvise. No hotel booking, no studying of tour guide. If you like to travel like that at the end of the day you have to find a place to stay for the night. There is one up which always helped me with that. Booking.com is an app of a popular booking website offering probably the largest number of different types of accommodation around the world. One hint is that before booking online it’s always better to call the hotel, hostel or a guest house. Firstly, it is good to confirm room availability. Secondly, you may find that the price on the phone is lower than on the Internet. The app is available for iOS and Android.