We compiled here a list of the best travel applications we have installed on our smartphones and the websites we use to plan our trips.
We are not paid or sponsored by any of the applications below to write this article. For them of them, we included our referral codes. Using those codes will provide you with discounts or gift and will never cost you anything extra.
Booking an hotel or a vacation rental (does not apply for camping)
While booking an hotel or a vacation rental, it always seems like a good idea to book directly on the hotel website. Unfortunately, experience taught us long ago that this is often not a good idea. When you book directly, you always depend on the owner goodwill and while usually you do not face issue, it is a nightmare when you do.
Our recommendation, when it comes to booking your accommodation while travelling is : first, book through one app and book directly next time, except if recommended by someone you trust.
Browse and book hotel and apartment and check reviews.
Our reference when booking an hotel is always booking.com. They have very competitive prices and good customer service. In case of issue, do not hesitate to call their customer service. Booking.com has a great interface to find the best rated places mixed with best prices. We always check this first.
Most importantly, Booking.com customer service is available for guests 24/7 on the phone – you can check how to contact booking.com in this article.
Booking has a great loyalty program called Genius, giving you 10 to 15% discount and sometimes more advantages such as free breakfast, room upgrades, etc.
Booking.com app is also very intuitive. You have access to all your bookings offline, with the important informations about your booking and the hotel or property.
Book your hotel and your flight with a great loyalty program.
Expedia is usually our second choice when booking and hotel or a vacation rental. The choice is more limited than on booking.com but they run a pretty interesting loyalty program.
We compare price between booking.com and Expedia for every hotels – if it’s the same, we book on Expedia and often enjoy few dozens euros off for our next booking.
As per booking.com, Expedia customer service is excellent and very focused on guest : any issue, give them a call and the hotel will fix it immediately.
Travel and live like a local. Rent your place to fellow travellers.
More and more often, we rent property on Airbnb. Airbnb offers a very clear interface and the largest offer on vacatation rental. You can find an Airbnb available in nearly every city in the word for a reasonable price.
We love the clear website and the relationship that exists with the host but we often prefer booking on Expedia or booking.com which are more guest-oriented and always offer some great facilities such as pool, restaurants, etc. For workation however, Airbnb is always our first choice as we want to feel at home and not in an hotel. Moreover, it’s easier to find some workspace / desks / table and very good internet in Airbnb than in hotels.
Moreover, we use Airbnb to host while we travel and our apartment in Paris is often rented out! We will write another article about hosting on Airbnb while you travel, but this is a good source of revenue and we always keep Airbnb application on our phone to answer to our guests.
You can enjoy 38€ off your first stay if you join Airbnb with our link here.
Map & Transportation – all who wander are not lost
Find places and itineraries anywhere in the world.
We do not need to introduce Google map nor can we imagine that you travel without it today. Google map has the best map system, working almost anywhere in the world. The key feature we love about Google Map:
- Offline Map. One well-hidden feature of google map is its ability to download map for offline usage. As GPS does not require data, with offline map you can locate yourself in a city or in a region without issues.
- Multimodal itineraries. Google Map supports cycling, walking, driving and public transport. Every-time you need an itinerary, you can compare and select the best transport to reach your destination.
- History. When you location permission is switched on, Google Map can store you history. We used this feature many times while travelling to find a lost car in its parking spot or head back to a place we liked.
- Review. You can review and check reviews on most of places that are on Google directly on Google Map. The review are often accurate and well-worth checking before going somewhere. If we had used this, Francois would not have broken his toe with a dodgy ATV in Greece.
- Share your location. You can share your location with a friend and track where you both are real time. Particularly useful if you travel with a group and you have nothing to hide!
Public transport itineraries and live schedule in many large cities.
When travelling in large city, Citymapper is a great alternative to Google map. Unlike its competitor, citymapper specialised in fewer large cities around the world and integrate with their public transport system.
That is why, Citymapper is able to provide you with dynamic metro or bus schedule, live incidents and transport information in your location.
We recommend keeping Citymapper on your phone whenever you visit any large city with a good transport system – its itineraries are more accurate than google map and the interface friendlier.
Set-price taxi-ride in many big cities.
Even though there is always a moral debate around Uber, in many countries, it is a must-have application. With so many taxi scams even in developed country such as France, Uber provides a service with a fare set in advance and a safe tracking.
We used Uber in many of our travels: Colombia, Costa Rica, United Kingdom, Eastern Europe, … and we never faced any issues worse than a slightly annoying driver. Having set fares also prevented us to be scammed like when we were in Milan and we paid double the one-way trip to the airport.
In France and in United-Kingdom, we prefer to use a local alternative to Uber: Kapten.
Ping your favorite adresses on a map for later usage.
Mapstr lets you keep track of your favorite places around the world, tag them, share them and add them to your own map! When you like an address, typically a restaurant, an hotel or if you notice a place you want to go, you just tap the map to add it and store it for later. By default Mapstr addresses are private but you can also decide to share places or entire map with your friends.
Maptr is a very useful applications for travelling that we use for 2 main purposes :
Firstly, before you travel, you will probably like us compile a list of great-looking and well reviewed restaurants, hotels and activities. Mapstr is the perfect tool to store them all and access them quickly while you are travelling. Find yourself hungry in the middle of Medellin? Check your mapstr, you will see where you are and where are the closest places registered in your application.
Secondly, we also use Mapstr while we are travelling to keep a list of the good places visited during our travel. For example, we compiled a good list of restaurants in Paris or London, of the hotels we liked in Costa Rica, … This enable us to remember where we went when sorting out our photos and writing up the blog article! Moreover, with Mapstr, we can share with our friends and family our maps so they can experiment the places we already tried and liked. That is particularly useful to avoid the tourism scam in France as we have maps of the places already tested by our friends.
Social GPS – always know what’s happening on the road.
Waze is a great application to have on your phone when you drive and a must-have for any road-trip. While Google Map can also be used as a GPS, Waze is dedicated to it and offers much more.
Waze is not only making itineraries, but is also a little road-social network which enables it to understand the road conditions and traffic. One of the road you need to take is blocked? Waze will adjust. Too much traffic on the highway? Waze will know and adjust to take a smaller road. It is often a life-saver when you drive in a country with too much traffic.
Our favorite usages of Waze while travelling are:
- When is the best time to leave: Waze can provide a schedule detailing how long is the usual time to reach a destination depending of what time you are leaving. For example, if traffic to enter Paris add 1 hour between 9am and 11am, Waze interface will show you that the best time to reach Paris is outside this window.
- What’s happening on the road? Waze will dynamically display and warn you about anything unusual happening on the road. Unusual traffic, accident, police control or any danger on the road will be displayed on your itinerary.
- Where is the best time to buy fuel? In many countries, Waze records the fuel prices and will display the cheapest fuel-station on your itinerary.
- When do we arrive? If like us you keep asking, how long do we still have to drive? Waze will have the answer and take into account the traffic.
We love Waze and we use it any time we have a long drive. It has been a great companions on most of our trip within France and in Iceland.
Fun time during your ride
While you travel, you will probably end up waiting long and countless hours in airports, buses, boats and other transport stations. What we suggest: try to be productive. If you are remote working : work, if you are a blogger : blog and if you are on holidays: have fun!
We compiled in the next section a list of our favorite applications to have fun while waiting.
Watch your favorite show and movies from anywhere.
Few other pleasures can be compared to binge-watching series in the hall of a crowded airport! With Netflix, you can watch your favorite series and movies for around 10$ a month. It is a must have application to watch videos whatever is your cup of teas: series, horror movies, documentary about glass-blowing… Netflix has it for every taste.
A few things to note when you travel with Netflix:
Do not forget to download the movies. Except in international airport or in the trains of East Europe, you will not have a working wifi in most of the public transport. Netflix allows you to download and watch offline up to 100 movies on a single device. Download everything you will want to watch before you leave home or from your hotels and you will be able to binge watch all your soul in that 20 hours bus ride in the mountain. One thing – do not watch too much Netflix if you are easily sick in transport as it will just make it worse!
Movies available will change in every country. Every country will offer a different list of Netflix movies. While this is not an issue if you speak and read english as it is available in every country, it is more annoying if you can only watch movies in French for example. This is also another good reason to download your favorite show from home: they may not be available in the country you are visiting.
Listen to the best local and international music and podcasts.
If you are too sick to watch Netflix or to read a book in the car, listening to good local (or not) music is another good option. Our favorite applications are Deezer and Spotify and we switch between them depending of the best deal of the moment.
A few tips:
- Go premium: without premium, you cannot listen to your music offline and you are spammed with ads. Without paying premium, you may as well use youtube to listen to your music as their playlist feature and sound quality are totally fine.
- Share a family plan: if you are not travelling alone, Deezer or Spotify basics plan do not allow you to listen to music at the same time on one account. We got a family account that we share between 6 members of our family for 15$.
- Prepare your playlist in advance to download them: if you already made your playlist and have the premium version of the app, you can download your music and you will not need to use your precious data to listen to your favorite tube!
- Do not forget podcasts: Deezer and Spotify offers a decent selection of podcasts that you can also download before you travel. Podcast are a good way to learn about the country you are visiting
Listen to Audiobooks on the road.
Alexandra is a big fan of Audible as an alternative way to read book without getting transport-sick. Audible is an amazon service providing Audiobook that you can listen directly on your phone, computer or tablet.
Audible works with a subscription based model – each month you receive 1 credit that you can use to buy one audiobook. You can also buy them individually but they tend to be extremely expensive (above 20$ per book). If you are travelling and working at the same time, as we often do, Audible offers a great selection of more work/skill development oriented books.
Once your book is downloaded, you do not need to connect to internet anymore and you can listen to your library directly there.
You can also create a wish list, then once you have finished your book, the next one is already available for you, and you do not need to look for one for 1 hour. If you are not sure what to read next though, Audible will give you some great suggestions based on your preferences,
Our selection for now: One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus and My Absolute Darling by Gabrielle Talent
How to manage your cash
Save on banking transaction cost while travelling abroad.
We have been travelling and paying banks horrendous fees for a pretty long time until we joined Revolut.
Revolut is a free banking-app, available across Europe and in the US. It provides you with a virtual bank account that you can top with another credit card or a bank transfer.
With your Revolut bank account, you will by default have access to a virtual credit card, useful to buy anything on the internet and a physical card is also available for 10 euros.
What we love about Revolut is :
- Everything is very transparent with no hidden fees: anything paid to Revolut is clearly displayed
- There is no FX cost on most transactions: except on a few currencies or during week-end. When there are FX fees, they are kept to a very reasonable amount unlike traditional banks.
- Every payment triggers a notification on your phone, enabling you to check quickly how much was paid in local currency and in your currency. We found that pretty useful to verify all our transactions while abroad as it is often unclear how much you actually got charged when the waiter took your credit card, for example.
- Transfer money in any currency between you and your friends quickly
- Check the exchange rate and save your favorite currency, to be able to access them at any time.
Revolut has saved us hundreds of euros of transaction bank compared to what we would have paid our banks. The applications is also very easy to use and the interface very clear, displaying you all your transactions per category such as food, hotels, …
There are a few other features that we never tried, such as travel insurance or airport premium lounge. If you had tried them, do not hesitate to let us know how they work and we may give them a try next time we travel!
If you are interested, you can sign up with our link and get a free Revolut card.
Organise your group travel expense.
With Tricount, you can organize your expenses with your friends or your family. We always use tricount and we travel with other people for common expanses: you add them in a second to the app, set who paid for what and the applications does all the math for you.
Tricount is very transparent, anyone with the app can submit an expense to the group and everything is available at all time for the members of the group. You can check your balance at anytime and reimburse them whenever you all decide.
Travelling with friends (or family) is never easy money-wise and Tricount help quite a lot by re-assuring the worried one as they can check their balance and check what is spent at all time.
Check real-time market rate before changing cash.
xe.com is available both as website and application and offers currency live market rates. We like their very easy and straightforward interface and use it all the time to display currency conversion.
When you travel, make sure you always check currency rate before converting cash or you will get scammed. You can also check with XE how much your bank is charging you: anything less in your favour than XE rates is your bank charging you foreign exchange transaction cost.
I’m sorry what did you say? Language is key
Learn a new language with 30 minutes a day.
A couple of weeks before flying to Costa Rica, François decided it was time to get on with Spanish! He downloaded Duolingo on his phone, and started repeating constantly sentences such as “Yo como una manzana” (I eat an apple). A few week later and after 3 weeks in Costa Rica, he is far from fluent but he was able to manage basic discussion.
If you travel abroad for long, you should try to learn new languages. Duolingo will help you to master the 3 secrets to learn any languages: Practice, practice and practice. While it won’t replace discussing with locals or watching the local news, Duolingo is a great tool to get a first hand on a new language and it helps a lot, mostly with vocabulary.
We recommend regular practice a few weeks before you arrive to your new destination. If you do, for example, 30 minutes a day for a month, you should be able to have basic discussions with people. When you are at your destination, you should continue the lessons as it will quicken your learning of the new language.
If you can afford it, Duolingo premium is worth the money if you study on your phone. While the web free version is more than enough, when you work on your phone the free version will limit your training time.
Translate any language into English and vice versa.
Even if you did your research and training, it is likely that you won’t be totally fluent in the new language of your destination. We found it always useful to have the Google Translate app to communicate with other people when necessary.
Google Translate also have some less-known feature on their mobile app extremely useful when travelling:
- Google Translate can translate words from picture or photo! Take a photo with some text, and Google translate will translate it for you. This is very useful for menu, activity brochure or any kind of written instruction.
- Google translate can translate from voice – there is even a conversation mode when you can speak one after the other. We use this both professionally and while travelling. If you are stuck in a bad situation without any common language, google translate can save you day!
- Google translate can do offline translations. This feature is a bit hidden in the setting of the app – but make sure to download you favorite language before travelling!
- In Google translate, you can save you favorite translation. Keep forgetting how to say “Where is the bathroom?” in Spanish ? Save it on your app. You can also save a few useful sentence recorded, and play them when necessary :
- If you have any chronic sickness, save their translation. In case of medical issue you will know how to say them to the doctor
- If you have special dietary and can’t eat certain food, save the translation of the sentence “I cannot eat peanuts”.
Communicate – Hello from the other side!
Send postcard from anywhere without a stamp, a postcard or a pen.
Remember when we were kids, we spend so much time writing postcards to our friends when we were on holidays, and we were so happy to receive some from them as well. This is an habit I have kept with my family and some of my closest friends over the year.
But how many cards I have bought and not written, or written and not posted, or bought stamps and had forgotten to send them at the end ? Spending 10 euros in stamps in Italy, being back in France and not being able to use them anymore ? Quite a few times, I have to admit !
And every time you want to write the card, you don’t have a pen. Or you spend 3 days to find the perfect postcard (at some point, Alexandra found postcards so ugly in some countries she wanted to become a postcard photographer myself, just to show some respect to the local beauty!) and not too expensive one (yes, two pounds for a postcard is too much, even if it’s London) and finally you don’t find anything and you have to buy a 3 pounds one from the airport ? Same, too many times.
But then, we discover Fizzer. We would describe it in 4 points:
- Your own pictures (or some preset design available as well). You will never send an ugly postcard again, and you will be able to show to everyone how a good photographer you are !
- Written from the app on your smartphone. No pen, no cards, no stamps. You will have no excuses. And perfect to be done at the airport while waiting for your flight.
- Pre-saved addresses. No more « Oh, I wish I still had my Uncle Paul’s address to send him this postcard »
- No post office needed ! Fizzer will send it for you. They send it everywhere in the World, it will be faster in Europe, and up to 1-3 weeks in some countries.
Prices – You can buy some credits and then to use it to generate postcards. Prices are decreasing the more credits you buy. During lockdown period, every Sunday, Fizzer gifts you with an extra credit. Use it to send some nice pictures of you and your lockdown mates to your grandparents! I have send one to my grandmother, and she was so happy about it.
It takes up to 5 minutes maximum to write and send a postcard from the application. Make someone you love smile when they will open their mailbox, and send a postcard on Fizzer. It’s too easy to not do it!
Get two postcards for free by entering the code ALEXA591830 during your first purchase on Fizzer.
Fast, simple and secure real-time messaging.
When it comes to communicating with our friends and family in France, our usual choice is WhatsApp :
- You can send message from anywhere, for free. You just need an internet connection and you can instantly start a real time conversation with someone.
- It is very easy to use – just need a phone number to get started. No need to spend countless time to create an account, upload a photo, write your bio…
- It works on almost every phone. Unlike iMessage which we use as well, WhatsApp is compatible with Android, Iphone and others.
- Group Messaging is very easy. You can create group with your family and update them throughout your travel or group with all your co-traveller while you are visiting a place.
- There is no ads – always pleasant for the eyes
- Every conversation is encrypted. This is quite pleasant to know that neither governments nor Facebook can officially snoop in your conversations.
- It supports audio and video conversation, so you won’t need to use another tool such as Skype to call your home country. This is also using internet only
To conclude – Whatsapp offers the best feature we expect from a communication tool, as well as being very simple and easy to install for everyone. Without doubt, it’s our favorite application to communicate while we travel!
Draw me a sheep! Photos and Videos
Share your photos and videos to your friends and families.
We love Instagram – both as content publisher and as reader. For a while, we have now been addict to posting photos and checking the travel photos of our fellow travel blogger!
Instagram is very easy in principle :
- Take a photo
- Apply some filter
- Write a quick description and add some hashtags #Wanderlust
- Post it
You can use Instagram in 2 modes : public or private. If you select “public”, everyone will be able to see your photos or videos. Alternatively, if you decide to set your profile “private”, only the followers you accept will be able to see your profile and content.
We both love Instagram and the application is filled with gorgeous and fascinating pictures of any places in the world. We tend to follow the places and hashtag of the places we are about to visit in order to check the best spot and then, contribute by adding some contents.
You can follow both of us on Instagram :
Watching and sharing videos.
Youtube is the most famous platform to publish and watch videos on internet. It is also one of the oldest, as it was founded in 2005 over 15 years ago.
Youtube has videos about everything you may need during your travel – for example :
Useful: Many things are much easier to understand if you watch them. For example:
- How to fix a flat tire when you are unlucky in the middle of your roadtrip
- Learning how to surf
- Inspiration: We love drone – we tend to watch videos about our destinations before shooting videos ourselves. Youtube has many beautiful videos about most destination which can carve your expectations.
- VLOG: Another popular way of blogging is VLOG (for Video-Blog). If you like to read blog, you may want as well to try the video version of it! We are not so much into it yet as we love reading and writing but many people appreciate more this format.
- Publishing videos: like on Instagram, you can publish videos on your youtube channels to share them with your friends and families (or you community if you have one!). Youtube is 100% free and support large video files – it is one of the best alternative to host your videos.
We are not very regular publisher on youtube since our drone broke down but we would still love if you subscribe to our youtube channel. We have a very big video travel project for the end of the year – we’ll talk about it soon on the blog!
Photo cloud storage and photo album sharing
We always listen to horrible stories of friends or fellow travellers who lost all their photos on their memory stick. Let’s be clear – we are in 2020 – if you loose your photos, it’s your own fault. Memory cards and hard-drive are not meant to be permanent storage, if you want to keep your precious memories, you should invest in a more permanent solutions in the cloud or a proper storage system at home.
Amongst all the storage system (Dropbox, Amazon, iCloud, …), we decided to use Google Photos. For 2 euros per month we have access to 100GB of data which we use for our photos or videos. What we like about Google Photos:
- Easy to set-up: install it on your phones, computer, iPad, configure the account and Tada! All your photos are getting to the cloud in High Quality.
- Google Search Algorithm, to search amongst your photo is simply amazing: you can look by place, by person (face recognition) and even by activity! For example typing “surfing” will automatically find all your surfing videos across all your photos.
- Price is good – it’s not cheap but 2$ for 100GB and 10$ for 1TB is reasonable
- Google suggestion – automatically, Google will pick some of your picture and edit them in small videos or album. From time to time, the results are impressive (most of the time, it’s not but you just quickly dismiss them!)
- Sharing is easy. Create an album, add people there and now you can share you photos with your family in a matter of seconds!
We are not stating Google Photos is the best solution around, we’ve tested only a few. Still – a quick word about the solutions we do not like :
- iCloud – Only works on apple device and do not delete the picture from your actual device. Pretty annoying to set-up or share album.
- Dropbox – not really dedicated for photos, it does not support most of the feature above. Dropbox is still a very good solution for backup. If you already have an access with a lot of storage, is it a great alternative.
- Our hard-drive or an external hard-drive (or worse – a USB key). USB keys and external hard-drive: they get lost and are very fragile. Our hard-drive: we lost everything we had on both our laptops within 2 weeks interval with Alexandra (just after we backed up everything – luck was on our side for once!)
At last – but not least
Hike around the world and GPS tracking and maps for hiking.
Visorando is pretty straightforward application – in a given area, you will be able to look for all the hikes posted by other member of the applications and follow your path. What we like about Visorando :
- The diversity: Many hikes in Visorando are famous, many others are not at all! In Lanzarote, we decided to hike one of their path heading to a small beach and for about 4 hours, we did not cross path with a single person. Pretty often, the walk are unique in the application and there are enough of them to always find what you are looking for!
- The tracking: Visorando has detailled path and is using the GPS location on your phone to locate you. You should never get lost and you can always find the trail if ever you are by following the GPS!
- The description of the itinerary: many itineraries have pretty exhaustive description, enabling you to understand what you are seeing around you and explaining the difficulties that lies ahead.
We really like Visorando as it helped us make the most of our holidays. Whenever we are ensure about what to do next, we check the application and look at all the trails around us. We find one we like, we put on the shoes and we hike!
Book a car with or without insurance, anywhere in the world.
Planning a road-trip with a car rental? Book online or book somewhere you trust. With so many bad experiences with car-rental agencies, we always found it best to book online.
We mostly use RentalCars, usually we have the cheapest price there and we never had bad experience since we started renting cars online. A few things we noticed and consider good advice when it comes to renting a car online:
- Renting car in airports is convenient, but it is also generally more expensive. Always check the price in the city you are visiting as well as the airport.
- Use your own insurance. It is extremely likely the car rental company and the website will try to sell you an insurance. Make sure you already have one (for example with your credit card) and decline politely.
- Resist the extras. If you need a GPS, bring your GPS or use your phone, bring your own baby seat, … or at least, check the prices of extra before arriving at the car agency! We’ve seen agencies charging up to 25$ per day for GPS, while a device cost usually less than 100$.
- Check how many kilometres you can travel: if you plan a 1000KM road trip but you only have 100 included, you will pay a lot!
There are plenty other advices we could given when renting a car abroad, make sure you do your research before. You should always check agencies ratings on Google and RentalCar: do not feed the sharks.
OpenTable & The Fork
OpenTable in U.S, the Fork in Europe. Both applications serve the same purpose: checking restaurants ratings and making a reservation. We like both applications – they are easy to use and making a booking will only take a few seconds. They are not exactly competitors either, as in most country you will more often than not find one and not the other.
What we like about them:
- Reviews are genuine. Only people who booked through the application can review. Generally, reviews are not misleading, anything with lot of positive ratings is good, anything with bad ratings is bad.
- There are often some discounts. On both applications, restaurants often set discount that may or may not be interesting. One famous restaurant in Paris used to sell menus on the fork about 30% less – definitely not a bad deal.
- There is a loyalty program. Upon booking, you will get points that you can spend to get discount at restaurants. The loyalty programs are not amazing: it is easy to get points, it is difficult to find a restaurants to redeem them.
Quite generally, we like to book directly restaurants that we have heard of or read about in blog. We often turn toward the applications when we are out of idea or want to try something new but safe! They are great applications without a doubt and you can rely on them safely to find a good restaurant abroad.
You know an app that deserve a place in this page? Contact us we’ll be very happy to test it and include it in the list if we like it.