Fact: There is always an app for that.
With an abundance of apps at our constant disposal, who has time to plan a trip, pack for it, and research the best ones to use? That’s right; no one. So, I’ve done it for you.
During a five month-16 country jaunt around the world last year, I downloaded and used a smattering of travel apps handpicked by yours truly.
Now, I’m here to impart my wisdom, experience, and true feelings about all of them for you, New York City.
There’s the good, the bad, and the ugly, of course; and at the very least, always a good story. We want an app that will help us, not annoy us. We crave something fun and dependable. We need something useful in a pinch when we don’t have internet access to look something up.
I have pioneered these apps so you don’t have to (okay, so maybe not pioneered per se, but let’s just go with that). Alas, here's the lowdown on 8 travel apps that I gave the old college try with, and what happened when I did.
1. Use: Sleep Machine
If you’re anything like me, you might be qualified to star in MTV’s True Life, I need a fan noise to sleep. Or, at the very least some sort of ambient white noise. Slumbering in a new place every night, or every few nights makes it hard to catch optimum Z’s.
If you’re a person that has trouble falling asleep as it is, well have I got the app for you. I employed the fan setting on the Sleep Machine app every night that I could. I even used it on a few flights to try to drown out the obnoxiously loud snoring dude next to me.
Choose from rainforest-y sounds, white noise, or whatever you fancy. You can set a timer, or have it going all night long for a better chance of drifting off, and staying asleep when that 5 am rooster crows outside your hotel window in Vietnam.
Ok, maybe it won’t drown out the rooster―those jerks are loud AF, but you get the point.
2. Definitely use: Units Plus
I know we’re all top notch math whizzes and stuff, but just in case you’re having an off day and need to compute the exchange rate or measurement logistics, in a jiff―there’s this lifesaver of an app. The best part of this app is that it works offline.
So, if you’re abroad and there’s nowhere to connect? It’ll compute for you, using the last available connected information.
Chances are, it’ll always be pretty damn close and you’ll figure out the exact Dollar to Baht conversion for that must have elephant statue from the Sunday Market in Thailand that’s completely necessary to own.
Or how many more miles to kilometers you need to drive, dodging chickens in the middle of the Turkish countryside. Thanks, Units Plus for making us good at math.
3. Use: Viber
No international calling plan? Join the rest of us. Connect to Wi-Fi and you can chat for free via phone call with Viber. Did I mention it’s FREE? Texting is an option as well, but that’s not nearly as impressive.
Because bragging to connecting with people at home is key, Viber is the perfect way to keep in touch. Depending on the strength of your Wi-Fi connectivity, the connection might have a slight delay.
So, if you find yourself in the middle of a fjord in Norway, you might experience a bit of a lag while conversing to your peeps back home. But, you’re in a fjord. In Norway. So, there’s that.
4. Must-Use: DealRay
Looking for the perfect way to avoid over-spending a few hundreds of dollars on a spontaneous travel trip? You're not alone.
Sure, crossing off travel bucket lists—especially within a huge scope of ambition—requires a lot of logistical mappings. It's hard. It's very detail-oriented. Very methodical. It requires planning to a degree you haven't seen since, IDK, Russell Crowe's conspiracy code maps in A Beautiful Mind.
But some of the best adventures are the spontaneous and unexpected. DealRay is perfect for both, actually. They curate travel deals from airlines themselves, google flights, and even occasional glitches by the airlines themselves.
And, at the end of the day, you're also looking for convenience when it comes to where you're leaving from. DealRay curates those deals for you based on your desired departure location. Oh, and you get to try it for free for the first 30 days. After that, it's only $10/month. Boom. Dope.
5. Yaaaaas: With Locals
This one is a real gem; a shiny traveler’s jewel. The website/app started out in just a few cities, but has grown exponentially and is now operating in 20 countries. At first, I was weary because the idea behind it is just too good to be true.
As a true traveler, I yearn to experience the local’s way of life. This app lets you do that- with a real life human local. You can eat dinner with them, take a tour led by them, or do an activity taught by them.
I tested it out in Chiang Mai, Thailand by signing up for a cooking class taught by a local couple, in their home. It was easily one of the best experiences I had during my three-week stint in Thailand.
We started with a fresh food market experience, continued with cooking no less than five different authentic Thai dishes at their home, and ended with my belly stuffed full of delicious goodness. Amazing Thai food for days… and a recipe book to boot!
6. Not gon' be able to do it: Last Minute
Nope. I tried this out a few times and the deals were not that impressive, or, in all actuality, non-existent. Basically the app pretty much only gives you London as a choice which is simultaneously confusing and infuriating.
Because, well, I wasn't in London, going to London, or curious about the deals in London. If you search in the browser there are more options, but then, what's the point of having the app?
I like to travel off the beaten path, and lastminute.com did not have deals in the Austrian Alps, or tiny Tuscan towns in Italy… go figure. If you are going to a major city, and they fix this app? You might have better luck. All in all, I was completely un-impressed with this one.
7. Sure, go ahead: Postagram
This app is the modern take on the old school postcard, of course. A bit of nostalgia, with a modern twist if you will. And best part of all? You can use your own photos!
It almost makes you feel like a famous artist with their own line of postcards… almost. Despite the few glitches where the postcards never got delivered (which, when I notified them, the postcard was re-sent), I loved this app.
In fact, one of my friends received 4 of the same postcard to make up for it. Everyone likes getting mail, so you’ll easily gain major BFF points if you send notes from your travels via Postagram.
8. Use wisely: Outbound (now Travello)
This is an app to connect with other travelers while you’re, well, traveling. Sounds like a grand idea, especially if you’re traveling solo and want to potentially meet up with likeminded adventurers.
Only issue here is that some people (cough, cough) think it’s like a "Tinder for travelers," and attempt to use it like one. I’m not naming any names, but in my experience using it I had more than a few men write me with some not so appropriate suggestions.
That being said, I did power through and ended up meeting a really cool girl who was traveling solo and accompanied my friend and I around the lovely city of Paris for the day. Great in theory, but just be weary. Words. To. Live. By.
9. Use: Townske
This is for those who appreciate a feast for the eyes. You see beautiful photos and declare “I must go there!” Or something along those lines.
This app provides a visual guide to places all over the world, in any category, and created by people who either live there or seriously know their sh*t about the place. It’ll help you dream, research, and plan, all through cultured eye candy. Check out my guide on Florence.[Feature Image Courtesy Instagram]