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Oct 21 2013

3 Smartphone Apps I Regularly Used Whilst Travelling

Smartphone apps

With more than a million apps available for download on Android and approximately 900,000 in the iPhone App Store, there are a lot of apps floating about in the digital world, aren’t there?  I, like most people, only use a few apps on a regular basis.  Today, I thought I would share with you the 3 apps I used the most and why on a recent trip around Europe.

Rail Planner

I had a Global Flexi InterRail Pass for 22 days so I spent a lot of time travelling by train.  Before I started the trip, I downloaded the Rail Planner app, which ended up becoming one of my most used apps for the following reasons:

  • to find out what routes were possible
  • to check out train timetables
  • to see the train route (where it stopped and when)
  • to find out the journey time
  • to see if I had to change trains and find out the time between connections.

It made my train travel experience easier because I could quickly and simply find out this information without  needing access to the internet.  The thing is, although it was originally developed for people using InterRail and Eurail Passes, it is a useful app for anyone thinking of using trains in Europe.  I have and will continue to use it for that reason.

Instagram

Instagram is the 10th most frequently used smartphone app, according to data on global smartphone use that was analysed by GlobalWebIndex (Mashable, Aug 5, 2013).  Instagram, if you have never heard of it, is a photo and video sharing mobile app.

As a travel blogger, it started out as an additional social media channel to help me promote my blog and engage with others.  The thing is, during my recent travels, I found it to be a great way of communicating and interacting with others – some I had met but many I hadn’t.  The thing is, I love to share my experience with others and it isn’t always that easy when you travel solo.  So, when I saw something I wanted to share, I would take a photo or video of it and then share it immediately on Instagram, if I had access to the internet, or later that day.  I was amazed at how quickly people responded to my posts by clicking the heart-shaped ‘like’ icon and even commenting on the image or video.  It doesn’t have to stop there because you can share it with your other social media networks, should you wish to such as Flickr, Facebook, Twitter etc.

The other new advantage I discovered was that it can help you connect offline with people you know.  While I was in Kotor in Montenegro, I posted a photograph on Instagram and another travel blogger who follows me left me a message in the comment section of that photograph.  As a result, we found out that we were staying in the same hostel at the same time and managed to meet.  Without that connection on Instagram, we might never have met up.

Foursquare

I didn’t really understand the value of Foursquare when I first joined.  In fact, I joined and didn’t use it for a while.  I have only recently embraced Foursquare and found it really useful at times during my recent travels.

What I found particularly useful was discovering things to see and do in a new location and places to eat.  Providing you have access to the internet, you can use this app and save a list of things you want to see and do.  It’s all user-generated content and, because of the information on Foursquare, I found a fantastic veggie place in Ljubljana that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise found .  The tips and comments left by others can be really useful and you can add your own.  In addition, if you can’t find a place on Foursquare, you can add it.  I have done so on a few occasions.  This provides others going to that location with useful information.  As with Instagram, you can share that information through your Facebook and Twitter accounts and it’s possible to find out if any of your ‘friends’ are in the same location.

Safety issues

It’s important to point out that there is always the potential for information that is in the public domain, as it is when you add anything to the internet, to be misused.  For that reason, I just wanted to point out that it’s important to stay safe and be aware of any potential safety issues you may face if you add information such as your location for all to see on the World Wide Web, especially as a solo female traveller.

With Foursquare and, to a lesser degree, Instagram, you are effectively telling people where you are at any given time.  You can read Foursquare’s privacy statement here to make sure you stay safe when using location-based apps such as these so they enhance your travel experience without putting you at risk.

Have your say

What do you think about these 3 apps?  Which apps do you use the most when you travel?

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

Have your say...

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