The smartphone has quickly become the most important device we own. It allows us to be productive at work. It allows us to stay in touch with family and friends. It helps keep us healthy and accountable.
It has also become the travellers best friend. I can't imagine taking a trip without it and here are some of my favourite apps that make travelling better, more efficient and much more fun.
1 - Uber and Lyft
I know Uber and Lyft have created an uproar in dozens of cities around world. Taxi drivers are upset and are lobbying their governments to block them.... Try as you may, you cannot block progress so. I have used Uber's UberX in dozens of cities around the world and it has always been a fantastic experience.
Sure UberX is cheaper in most cities compared to traditional licensed taxis (cabs) but it is also a much better experience. You can order a car without talking to anyone and are always able to get transportation even during the busiest travel times. I can spend 30-45 minutes in New York or Chicago trying to hail a cab but able can book an UberX within minutes.
Even with surge pricing, the convenience of Uber makes it a must and therefore number 1 on my list.
2 - Waze
I avoid renting a car whenever possible and choose Uber (see number 1) but regardless of mode of transportation, Waze has found a permanent spot on my must have travel app list.
Waze has sometimes shown me great shortcuts to beat traffic that I have asked my Uber driver to take (which saves you money).
3 - Rome2Rio
Rome2Rio is a very easy app that allows you to "searches any city, town, landmark, attraction or address across the globe with thousands of multi-modal routes to easily get you from A to B." It is a great way to find great ways to get from point A to point B. It even includes options with Uber, taxi, local public transits (including trains) and more.
4 - Google Translate
Google translate is the babel fish of our time. It breaks through language barriers allowing you to explore freely. In addition to the website, Google offers translate apps for IOS and Android (all free). At it's base, it allows you to translate between 52 languages offline (without an internet connection). It allows you to perform 2 way voice translation in 32 languages and camera translation of text in 29 languages.
This camera translation feature was incorporated when Google bought a company called WorldLens. This cool trick allows you to translate signs, menus and invoices.
5 - XE Currency Converter
Knowing the conversion between currencies is the difference between getting a good deal or getting taken advantage of. I have been using the XE.com currency conversion on their website for years and the XE app makes everything that much easier (IOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry).
Be careful because you can rarely convert currencies at the listed rate (because most agents make their money by charging a high spread) but it still very useful to know if someone is trying to take advantage of you during currency conversion.
6 - AirHelp
So this isn't an app but it is so good and useful that I just had to add it. AirHelp is a service that helps passengers to secure reasonable compensation from airlines when you are delayed, your flight is cancelled or the flight is overbooked. Most passengers don't know their rights and wouldn't know where to start to seek compensation. The service is free and starts when you allow them to scan your emails for flight information. They will tell you if you are entitled to a claim and they only get paid if you do (they charge 25% of the compensation amount). They can go back up to 3 years and I have friends that have managed to recover up to $1000.
AirHelp is an international service so why not try it?