There are millions of digital tools designed to help you achieve a seamless travel experience. This means it’s very likely that your phone is clogged with unnecessary and often paid functionalities that are never used. Below are the best free apps and websites I’ve personally tested and found extremely useful. This list will be continuously updated, as I discover new tools that make travelling simple, more efficient and stress-free.
I remember back in university when I was trying to book Christmas flights to Bulgaria. Finding a flight that didn’t cost a fortune, was for the dates I needed and didn’t include a 24h transfer in the middle of nowhere was (and still is) mission impossible. I had a gazillion tabs with airline websites open and a spreadsheet to capture all my options. By the time I was done comparing, the prices had changed 3 times.
Then I found the flight comparison feature of Skyscanner, a tool I now use every time I start planning a trip. You can search and compare flights by destination, dates, time, type of travel, airline and even set an email alarm for price changes. On top of that, Skyscanner is pretty useful for spontaneous trips. Simply select your preferred dates, start location and type everywhere in the end destination field. Enjoy!
In a similar way to Skyscanner, Google Flights aggregates flight data and allows you to compare ticket fares from different companies. While Skyscanner works perfectly fine for European countries, I found Google Flights more intuitive when comparing flights to the rest of the world.
Once you’ve entered your search, Google Flight offers some valuable insights such as average ticket price for the season, prices for nearby airports and date graph. As long as you’re comfortable with a certain degree of flexibility, this is a great way to find good ticket deals.
Currently only available on desktop
ClaimCompass specialises in securing compensation for delayed, cancelled or overbooked flights. Not many people know this, but if your flight has been delayed for more than 3 hours EU law states that you can claim up to 600€ per passenger as compensation. Some claims can be backdated too.
ClaimCompass helps you get compensated when the airline screws up your flight. You simply file a reasonably simple claim via their website, provide evidence of booking, and they take care of all the rest. The best thing is that their business model is not built on upfront fees – submitting a claim is completely free. However, if the request is successful, they keep a 25% commission which is still a pretty good deal considering it only takes 5 minutes to fill in the form.
Currently only available on desktop
I am a huge fan of Airbnb. In fact, in the past 5 years, I’ve booked 99% of my accommodations through Airbnb and I’ve never been disappointed by the value for money or the host’s attitude. I started using Airbnb because the sharing economy concept spoke directly to my values. Even though Airbnb tweaked its business model, the friendliness of the hosts is still central to the experience.
In most cases, Airbnb booking is not only about renting physical space. It includes lots of tips and advice from the local hosts who are there to answer your questions and help you enjoy your trip. Even from a more practical point of view, you can find decent places at central locations for an average of £20 per person per night. Not a lot of other similar services can compete with that.
P.S If for some reason you still haven’t tried out Airbnb and you don’t have an account, you can use this referral link and earn £25 towards your first trip with them.
This is my plea to you to make the most of the navigation app installed on your phone and stop paying the horrendous fees of sightseeing buses, transfers and taxis. Whether it’s for walking, cycling, public transport, driving or nearby suggestions, Google Maps is my go-to application for navigation, and it does a pretty good job. If you want to avoid excessive data charges, you might consider downloading the map beforehand to use it offline.
Google MyMaps is a useful extension if you want to create and share custom maps. Most of the sightseeing maps on this website are created using this tool. Another useful functionality is that everyone can pin the things they want to see and create a shared plan for
If you own a Monzo card, you can say goodbye to international fees, crap exchange rates, charges for withdrawing money abroad and say hello to 21st-century banking. Monzo is a digital, mobile-only bank currently available to UK residents only. All foreign currency payments are converted using real-time Mastercard exchange rates. There are no additional charges and withdrawals from ATMs abroad of up to £200 per month are free. You get instant notifications for any transaction and have the option to freeze your card if it gets stolen immediately—literally a game-changer.
Again, there are no additional charges** and ATM withdrawals abroad are free. If you ever decide to purchase a Premium account (£7 per month), it will come with annual overseas insurance including delayed flights and lost luggage compensation and free medical services.
*Yes, you need some basic financial knowledge for this.
** I’ve recently found that Revolut applies a 0.5% fee on foreign currency exchanges during weekends because the FX markets are closed. Still better than currency exchanges though.
Splitwise is one of the apps you never knew you needed until you find yourself travelling with a group of friends. It’s the last day of a fantastic holiday, and you need to figure out who owes what. Arguments arise, friendships are destroyed. Not if you use Splitwise. The app can keep track of group travel expenses and split bills. On top of that, it calculates the totals for you and everyone has the incentive to include the things they’ve paid for if they want their money back. Goodbye Excel spreadsheets, hello automation.
I like taking photos and people like me taking photos of them. The only problem is that at the end of the trip I have the tedious task to share those photos with multiple people. My solution to this problem – a shared album in Google Photos. Everyone with a link/invitation can add and view photos. I’ve tried a couple of apps, but honestly, Google Photos is by far the best and easiest way to do this. It’s free, almost everyone has a Google account, the storage space is unlimited, and you can easily store and organise your photos.
Yes, Amazon has a drive service, and yes if you have an Amazon Prime subscription, you have unlimited storage for photos and 5GB for videos. Unlike Google Photos, you don’t have to limit your photo resolution to 16 megapixels and video resolution to 1080p. However, their shared album option is not very intuitive, and the other person must have an Amazon subscription as well. I would say the drive is a good solution if you’re running low on available space or you simply need a back up of your photos.
You can use Pocket to save online articles and read them later. This is incredibly helpful in situations where you won’t have a mobile connection for more extended periods such as flights, hikes, train trips, etc.