10 must-have apps while traveling Europe in 2017

Smartphones has come a long way and it’s hard to imagine a life without them. They fill our daily life with useful and not so useful apps. There’s an app for everything out there, also for traveling. I’ve been traveling in Europe and here’s my personal list of 10 must-have apps while traveling. Feel free to comment your favorite apps below!

Skyscanner

Are you planning a new trip and looking for the cheapest plane tickets? Or do you just want to get there with the least stops? Then it doesn’t come as a surprise that Skyscanner is the way to go.

Skyscanner will search with over 1200 airline companies to find the cheapest flight for you. It simplifies the booking process and you can look for cheap hotels and car rentals too. Best of all, Skyscanner is free! Yes, you heard it. There are no hidden commissions like with momondo.

Don’t know where to go? Skyscanner is also a nice place for inspiration! Unlike with most airline companies, you can search for cheap flights to everywhere. Skyscanner features an explore tab which will help you find new destinations to explore at the cheapest possible price.

What makes this app really fun is the ability to add your passports and loyalty cards. This makes booking so much easier and faster. It also means that bookings placed through Skyscanner are eligible for air miles and frequent flyer programs. It takes airmiles in consideration!

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Busbud

Traveling by plane isn’t the only way to get around. Traveling by bus can be a lot cheaper and more beautiful! Especially in combination with Skyscanner. Traveling by bus is easier than by plane. There are no long waiting lines and less restrictions on your bags. Most people I meet that travel by bus try taking a night bus. This saves them in accommodation costs.

For example, I’m planning to visit Rome very soon. At the time looking, a plane ticket from Brussels to Rome costs €120 ($140). However a plane ticket to Venice costs only €49 ($58). I can spend the night in Venice in a cheap hostel for €25 ($30). I can go and explore Venice and take the bus the next day to Rome for only €10 ($12)! That’s still €36 cheaper and I have explored a second city.

Next time when you are looking for a way to travel, don’t forget to look at busbud! I can guarantee you that it’s well worth it. I’ve took a long bus-ride in Norway. It had WiFI, power outlets and the scenery was stunning!

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Trainline Europe

We had plane-tickets and bus-tickets. I think you get the point now. Train-tickets! Traveling by train is very popular in Europe. Living in Belgium myself I used to take the train every day. I was going to university-college in Ghent. Now in Belgium the train-prices are fixed. There are no flexible prices like with skyscanner and busbud. But that’s not the case for whole Europe. This app is not only great for booking train-tickets, but also for looking up departure and arrival times.

Again, the app is completely free with no hidden commissions. Traveling by train is usually faster and more comfortable than traveling by bus. The scenery can also be very beautiful, like in Norway for example.

Now the train isn’t always as cheap as traveling by bus with busbud, however there’s a catch. If you plan on traveling a longer period through europe, it’s recommended to look at an Interrail or EU-rail pass. This pass allows you to take the train in whole Europe as many times as you want over the whole period that you choose. When you book the pass off-season and as a youth (< 26 years) it is very cheap. From my experience, booking in high season is expensive and it is usually better to look at skyscanner and busbud.

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Google maps

I use this app all the time while traveling! This is my go-to app to find directions, public transportation times and uber-prices. Forget about installing public-transportation apps for every city you visit. Google maps has it all. The only downside I can find is that it uses mobile data. However you can download whole cities and save it locally. This way you don’t have to use your mobile data to find your way back. You do need mobile data to look up public-transportation times.

All of the above apps require data-connection. This big difference with google maps is that you use while being on the road. The above apps are for planning your trip, which you usually do in advance and in wifi reach.

On the upside of things. The EU (European Union) has finally banned roaming costs, so you can buy a local sim with data in any EU-country and use it everywhere you go. I will make a more in-depth post about mobile data while traveling in a future post.

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Honorable mentions

CityMaps2Go

CityMaps2Go is not only an offline maps app, but it also features guides for each city. You can download a detailed city map of your choice. It’s also a great app to discover travel ideas and you can share your trips with friends.

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MAPS.ME

Maps.me is a very detailed offline map. It also has all attractions, restaurants, hotels, ATMs on the map. It even shows you if the destination is uphill or downhill. Also this app is completely free! Unlike CityMaps2Go, which has a premium plan next to it’s free plan.

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Hostelworld

Looking for a cheap place to stay? Then hostelworld is the way to go. If you have never stayed in a hostel before then I can only highly recommend it to you. Ever since I started staying at hostels, I don’t think I want a hotel anymore. It’s easy to meet new people, share experiences and find stuff to do. I’ve made friends with people from all over the globe in hostels and on couchsurfing (mentioned below).

Hostels come in many varieties. From small and cozy to big and hotel-like. I usually stay in the small and cozy ones, but that’s just a personal preference. I find it easier to make friends and do stuff together. There are also hostels that do events multiple times a week. Lots of fun guaranteed!

There are lots of apps and websites to book hostels. However I always find myself heading over to this one. There’s nothing particularly better or worse about using others. I really like this one and it has way better reviews in the app store.

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Booking.com

Do you rather stay in a hotel? No problemo! Booking.com at your service. It’s easy to book hotels and find inspiration. Booking.com gives discounts when you book again within a certain period and it has excellent customer service. I have dealt with the customer service myself and it was a great experience. The staff is very friendly and helpful.

The app is very handy to manage your bookings and most hotels offer free cancellation. I have stayed in very nice and cozy hotels using this app.

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Tripadvisor

This handy dandy app is one I always fall back on. You can use it to find hotels, holiday rentals and flights. Or you can use it the way I use it and that is to find the best restaurants and things to do. This app has all the best tours, points of interests, nature & parks and museums.

It’s best app to find stuff to do. Forget about yelp! I use tripadvisor to find the best places to eat.

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Couchsurfing

This is arguably the best app from this list! I have discovered so many awesome people with couchsurfing. Some I still talk to on a regular basis. Couchsurfing started out as a way to help travelers find a place to stay for free. It allows you to host other travelers in your house and you can find a host while traveling.

Today, couchsurfing is way more than that. It’s a social platform. A year ago, couchsurfing introduced ‘hangout’. ‘Hangout’ allows you to meet up with other travelers in your area without having to stay at their place. It’s also possible to create and attend events. These events are filled with travelers. Couchsurfing hangouts and events are remarkably fun and you meet all these amazing people.

Couchsurfing is pretty popular in Europe. In some countries more than in others and it varies much on the city. It’s easy to find hangouts and events in major cities. Especially in cities with universities. Barcelona, Cologne and Paris are amazing cities for meetups.

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Whatsapp

“Whatsapp is really popular in Europe” is the sentence I hear the most among my fellow travelers. How else are you going to communicate with your new foreign friends? Whatsapp is a messaging app like facebook messenger. However it acts more as a replacement for the cellular phone-calls and texts. You can send texts, make calls, send pictures, photos and videos. You can even send contacts and your location which makes it really easy for someone to find you.

There are lots of different apps that do the same things, but whatsapp is the most popular. Almost everyone in Europe has it. Especially the travelers.

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Waze

Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. If you’re traveling by car, you’re definitely going to need it. It’s the best and most active mobile navigation app out there. It updates in real time when there’s a traffic jam or road blocks and will find a way around it. It searches for the fastest route continuously depending on the traffic.

It’s community-based and allows you to create alerts for other drivers. You can report traffic jams, speed-traps, car accidents, hazards, gas prices and even map issues. Maps gets updated in real-time. It’s the most up-to-date and correct navigation app I know. The only downside is, you’re going to need mobile data.

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