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Madrid-based TPG Contributor Lori Zaino helps you stay in the loop with a list of travel apps to download before your next trip to Europe.
Travel apps can make the life of a frequent traveler much easier — let’s face it, where would we be without Google Maps, XE Currency Converter and TripIt? As the world of apps continues to grow, sometimes it’s difficult to keep up with them all. Here’s my list of go-to apps that you should consider downloading before your next trip to Europe. The apps mentioned here are available for both Apple and Android devices (except where noted) and are presented below in no particular order.
1. Spotted by Locals
Often referred to by users as a “travel bible,” Spotted by Locals features offline guides of 55 European cities that are created entirely by locals — there are 11 North American city guides available as well. Let Carmen, Matteo and Elena guide you though Milan or Kasia and Damian take you through Warsaw. Each city guide provides locally approved spots for music, art, culture, shopping, snacks, coffee, bars, places to relax and more. Recommendations are handpicked hotspots and in line with what is trendy and cool at the moment. Each city guide is available for 3.59 euros (~$4.05) — PDF guides are available for 2.99 euros (~$3.38). The price also includes free updates for life.
2. The Fork
For anyone hoping to have an affordable European vacation filled with amazing food, this free app is a great resource. The Fork not only helps you select the best restaurants in town, but also gives you discounts — up to 50% in some cases. Each listing features reviews, photos, a map and example menu items so you can find the perfect restaurant for whatever you’re in the mood for. The app currently contains restaurant info for 10 countries — France, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Denmark, Italy and Brazil.
3. Smart Traveler
Smart Traveler is the official US State Department app designed especially for US travelers, providing easy access to travel alerts and warnings, US embassy locations and other need-to-know info. You can also register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) through the app. This is one you probably won’t need to use often, but you’ll be grateful to have it on you in case disaster strikes, as it can be very useful during times of unrest, if your passport gets lost or stolen or if other emergency situations suddenly occur. Best of all, it’s free.
4. Pretty Streets
Dying to take a gorgeous stroll through a picturesque European city? Download Pretty Streets, a free app dedicated to making sure you see the most beautiful spots in town. Pretty Streets plans and maps out walking itineraries based on the most popular places around the city, the time you’d like to spend walking and the kinds of things you enjoy seeing, like monuments and parks. Right now, the only European city available is Paris, but more will be coming soon.
Traveling between cities in Europe? This free app can help plan your journey all in one shot, whether you’re thinking of taking trains, planes or buses. GoEuro scans more than 46,000 possible routes and gives you several options to get from point A to point B. While there are plenty of other great apps for purchasing airline tickets — like Google Flights, Kayak or Skyscanner — this app is especially handy for figuring out train and bus routes, which can sometimes be more complicated, especially if you aren’t familiar with the city or its transit system.
Although Uber is banned — or simply unwelcome — in some European cities and countries, it’s really useful for getting around town and traveling to and from the airport. Simply request a ride via the free app and a driver will arrive momentarily to take you to your requested destination. Better yet, there’s no local currency required since the ride will be charged to the credit card stored in your account, and you won’t have to explain to your driver in a foreign language where you’re headed. Make sure to link the right credit card to your Uber account in order to maximize your points earnings on every ride. If you haven’t signed up for Uber yet, you can join here, download the app and get your first ride free (up to $20).
7. Google Translate
Everyone knows about good ol’ Google Translate, but did you know the free app can also do two-way speech translations as well as photo translations? Android users can also download language packs for offline use, which is really convenient if you don’t have Wi-Fi access while roaming the streets of a foreign country.
8. Hotel Tonight
This app always seems to make it onto our lists because it’s so helpful and easy to use — and it’s free. Hotel Tonight offers last-minute hotel bookings in cities all over the world, including many throughout Europe. You can make bookings the day of or up to seven days in advance. Also, if this is your first time using Hotel Tonight, you can get a $25 credit by using the promo code BKELLY99.
9. TPG To Go 2.0
TPG To Go 2.0 recently launched and as of right now is available for use only on Apple devices — TPG To Go 2.0 for Android is coming soon and for now you can still download the first version on your Android device. The upgraded Pay With This feature will be really useful when deciding which card to use to pay for all those purchases you’ll be making in Europe. The TPG Tracker helps you to stay on top of your programs of choice and credit card bonuses by selecting your favorite programs and brands. Download it now to check out all the awesome new features.
10. Wi-Fi Finder
There are a number of apps out there to help you find Wi-Fi connections if you are hoping to avoid hefty roaming charges while traveling abroad. I recommend using Free Wi-Fi Finder for Apple devices and Wi-Fi Finder for Android devices. Since the data is stored locally, you don’t have to be online to use these apps. They’ll also map out the locations for you and let you know where you can find free Wi-Fi connections vs. which ones are paid hotspots.
To ensure your next trip to Europe goes as smoothly as possible, download our go-to travel apps, listed here. Additionally, to save money when traveling abroad, consider using credit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Citi Prestige. For more info on similar fee-free card options, check out this post: 11 Top Credit Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees.
What are some of your favorite apps to use when traveling in Europe? Share your tips in the comments below.
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