By Madeleine Cull
- Spotify (or some other music streaming service):
- Music is crucial for the long train rides and flights. I personally love Spotify because you can make a playlist and have it downloaded to your phone so that you can listen without wifi or data. The app often runs specials and you can do a free month trial or pay 99 cents. I downloaded for free for the month I was in Europe and fell in love so I pay $10/ month now, but you can cancel at any time. (don’t forget your headphones!)
- Kindle (or some other book reader app):
- While I prefer to read real paper books at home, for extended traveling you just don’t have the room to carry the books with you, so reading on your phone or i-pad is necessary (blog to come with my most recent reads).
- If for some reason you haven’t heard of Airbnb yet, check it out! Staying at hotels during extended trips is just not budget friendly. Airbnb allows you to stay in unique places in great locations at a more than affordable price!
- The word hostel instantly brings people a rush of fear and the horror film always comes to mind. Do not let this deter you. I felt the same when my friends suggested we stay in them. But some of my best stay experiences have been in hostels and I highly recommend them if you’re on a budget! Our hostel in Amsterdam, Lucky Lake, was so welcoming and the staff was wonderful! My two friends and I shared a little pod and the whole hostel was outdoors, made up of dozens of pastel colored mini campers (picture featured above). Hostels create a community vibe and guests can bounce ideas off of each other and it’s a great place to meet people from all over the world.
- Link to Amsterdam Hostel
- A social networking app for solo travelers or groups looking to meet other people while abroad. If you are traveling solo and want to have someone to spend the day with and explore, the app will help match you with people nearby looking to do similar things as you and who have similar interests! It also has a nearby wifi finder (which is SO helpful!) People can also share their experiences and favorite things to do or places to eat in cities they have explored (a similar app is Backpackr, but I prefer Travello).
- Trainline Europe (Captain Train):
- This is the app we used to book our train tickets throughout Italy in advance. However, the app offers trains in many other European countries as well.
- My favorite app for planning by far! Super easy to use (also a website) that tells you all the ways to get from A to B. You just type in where you are starting and ending and it will give you all the transit options and prices. I also use this to help me understand the geography of Europe so I don’t miss out on any cool cities just because I don’t know where they are on the map. Great for helping you to avoid backtracking!
- Great app for communicating with your friends and family while you’re abroad and don’t have data! You can text or call people through wifi who also have the app. It also allows you to share your location with friends and family.
- Free app for learning languages. When traveling to a country where you don’t know the language I find it respectful to at least learn the basic phrases like “hello”, “goodbye”, “thank you”, “your welcome”, and “where is the bathroom?” Duolingo is free and easy to use and offers most languages!
- Make sure to download the apps for whichever airlines or train companies you will be using throughout your trip!
- When you arrive to the airport in whichever country is your first stop, look for a phone company and ask to buy $25 worth of data. You can just take the SIM card that is in your phone out and replace with a prepaid SIM with a European number. When you run out of data you can just find another phone store and buy some more. This is crucial for being able to use your GPS and not get lost! American phone companies will charge you an arm and a leg for use of your data abroad, and they give you limited access so my advice is don’t even mess with it.
- Let your credit/debit card companies know where you are going and when about a month before you leave for your trip! If you don’t they will likely flag your account for oversees spending and you won’t have access to your money.
Please feel free to comment with any tips or apps you have discovered to be helpful for travel!