The digital universe has offered countless apps that can assist travel lovers in their journeys. But with an over-saturated market bombarding us with thousands of apps to choose from, which ones prove to be most helpful for those "on the go" in new and unexplored places? We'll give you the scoop on the ones we've ended up using the most in our travels.
What you get: I’m sure you’ve visited the website before, but having the app on your phone is an even better way to utilize all that Yelp has to offer. Search for food, shopping, coffee, pampering, playing, and so much more. You can filter by location, price range, businesses that are “open now” (if you are like me and have odd cravings at odd hours), and more and more and more. Yelp users can post pictures and reviews of their experiences, making it easier for you to decide where you wanna (or don’t wanna) be.
Why we love it: The Yelp app is like having a local friend no matter where you go. We probably use it the most when we are looking for a place to eat or grab good coffee because we have honestly never found better food or coffee than that in our very own city of Portland but, thanks to Yelp, we have come close elsewhere! We have used this app as local as home and as far as New York City. We haven’t thought to try it out of the country-- does anyone know if it works overseas? As parents, we also love the “good for families” filter and the “takes reservations” filter. You can also make reservations and contact businesses directly through the app!
What you get: In an unfamiliar spot but desperately need to find food or a hotel? Based solely on your current location, Around Me can help you find the nearest bank, taxi, gas station, grocery store, and more. Tap on a category, and all nearby businesses will appear. Unlike Yelp, Around Me is more of a need-based tool when you are already on the go and know nothing about where the heck you are.
Why we love it: When we are out in the middle of what seems like nowhere and we are running low on gas, Around Me can tell us where the nearest gas station is as well as give us directions to it.
What you get: Sure it’s just the mobile version of an already easily accessible website, but I swear by this app and this site and use it for booking all of our hotels.
Why we love it: Not only can you search for hotels and read reviews, but if you book directly through your phone, you can usually get an 8-10% discount on most hotels. PLUS, for every ten nights you book and stay, you get a FREE night!
What you get: Free and commercial-free music tailored to your taste. You can create your own custom “stations” by typing in a genre, artists name, or even the title of a song, and Pandora will play only songs that are similar or exact to your station title. You can skip a song if you’re sick of hearing it, give a “thumbs up” to songs you love, or give a “thumbs down” to songs you hate and never want to hear again.
Why We Love It: Both of our phones are bogged down with pictures--my phone is filled with blurry pictures of our kids, and Ian’s phone is filled with stunning pictures of adventures in nature--making it impossible to store any music in our iTunes app. So, when we are on long road trips and the radio stations keep playing the same songs, we plug in our phones and click on Pandora. The only downside is that it obviously uses data, so beware of that when you aren’t hooked up to WiFi! Sidenote: we have a lot of friends that love using the Spotify app, and swear by it. We just haven’t used it ourselves. So if you are interested in that, look into it before deciding which app to download, or if you do use Spotify, tell us why you love it in the comments!
What you get: Waze is a community-based traffic and navigation app. Drivers in your area can share real-time road and traffic reports to help improve daily commuting.
Why we love it: Waze offers voice navigation with turn-by-turn directions and alerts you of traffic jams, cops, and other unexpected road conditions. We love this app because we just type in the address or name of where we are going and Waze does the rest. Personally, I just set my phone down in the cup holder and let the voice navigation tell me when and where to turn. If I make a wrong turn or if traffic piles up on the route that I chose, Waze will automatically reroute me so that I make it to my destination in the fastest and safest possible manner. Another feature I love about Waze is that you can send your ETA or location to a contact in your phone, directly through the app, so you don’t have to find a way to text them you’re running late, you just push two buttons on the app and voila! I know Google Maps does some of the same things, but Ian and I prefer the user interface of Waze and the easy-to-find traffic jams or alternate routes.
What you get: Access to dozens of sounds including crowded room, camp fire, dishwasher rinsing, city streets, and of course the more generic sounds like oscillating fan, airplane travel, crickets chirping, and rain pouring. There is even one called “Tibetan Singing Bowl”, which I have yet to try, but now I’m intrigued!
Why we love it: Ian grew up sleeping with a fan on, and that was a huge adjustment for me when we first got married! Now I can’t sleep without it, and both of our kids have been trained to sleep with white noise as well. When Greyer was a baby, we would play this “Ocean Waves” track on repeat on an old iPod planted under his crib. He had finally started sleeping through the night, and we were afraid to switch his white noise to a traditional fan haha! And when Ian and I stay at hotels without a bathroom fan (urgh!) or AC unit without the option of “constant fan”, this app is our saving grace! It blocks out all that hallway commotion when we are jet lagged and needing sleep.
Did we leave out any of your favorite travel-related apps? Are there any on this list that you hadn’t heard of before?