Summer Apps

Yes you read correctly, this article is about summer apps not abs. I know by now you have been bombarded by informations on how to get a tight tummy. There is enough trainers and dieticians giving tips on how to get that rocking Baywatch body. Rest assured that it won’t be me: I like you just the way you are. Ok you got me! Why and how would I write about “how to get six packs” when I don’t have them myself, when I have never had them. I can however guarantee that the the lack of those gut muscles has never affected my extraordinary summers and should never affect yours.

This post is about the simple bare necessities that don’t require a perfect body shape or a model figure. Necessities which make you forget about your belly worries and your fantasy life wherever you wander, wherever you roam. They make you fonder of any summer or season. I mean the bare necessities that makes any voyager rest at ease, the travel apps.

Less than a decade has passed and the number of apps available jolts the imagination. There are multiple for messaging, navigating, exercising, playing, travelling, composing, really doing just about anything you can think of. Let’s face it, this is an apps world and it would be nothing without tabs or smartphones.

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The availability of data these days and how it’s processed is user friendly for consumers and doesn’t involve any effort: you just go to your google play or your apple store, you search for applications, you download them and voila the information you needed is there.

Our smartphones contain our whole lives: our credit cards details, private messages, contacts, emails, pictures, the history of where we have been, tickets, calendars, location, our daily interactions etc etc . The phone apps come weightless, don’t require a lot of space, are very informative and that is exactly why they are our best tools when travelling.

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Fact is: the travel world has shifted tremendously because of an invention called the internet and now even more with the various easy to use applications. The privileged information which was only available for travel agencies are now accessible to the average person hence the declined need for reservations through them. Even big entities like lonely planet are changing their ways of work by focusing more on their applications, making them more user friendly and more thorough.

 

Here are my favorite 25 free apps you need to check out for your summer travel plans:

1- For flights: 

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Skyscanner is a global search engine that enables people to find comparisons for flights, hotels and car hire. The service is free to users and directs you to the airline, hotel, car hire provider or travel agency to complete the booking process. It is a great tool for travelers looking for the perfect deal on domestic and international flights. SkyScanner excels at comparing prices across millions of flights and hundreds of airlines, from prestigious carriers to charter flights and budget airlines. From there, users can even book flights directly from the app with provided links to travel agents or airlines. It is absofuckinlutely one of my favorites .

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Google flights is an online flight booking service which facilitates the purchase of airline tickets through third party suppliers. The service was immediately compared to competitors such as Expedia, Orbitz, Kayak.com, and Bing. A great appeal is that you can select multiple departure and arrival airport and let Google find the cheapest combination. Erwin                                                                                                                                        always refers to it after going to                                                                                                                                 skyscanner to make sure there are no                                                                                                                       better offers or shorter flights.

 

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Momondo does not sell tickets directly, instead it provides an overview of available travel services on the internet and refers its users to travel providers.  It is very similar to skyscanner but personally I am just more familiar with skyscanner.  Momondo expanded to include city guides and travel articles.

 

 

 

 

2- Hotels:

 

download (1)Booking.com is an online accommodation booking website started as a small start-up in 1996, based in Amsterdam, Netherlands and since 2005 it is owned and operated by United States based Priceline. Its operations centre is located in Amsterdam. Booking.com claims to have over 700,000 properties globally under contract and that it deals with more than 900,000 room nights reservations each day. In 2013, it accounted for more than two thirds of Priceline’s revenue. Booking.com is available in more than 41 languages, and it is by far the most widely recognised and used travel hotel app in the world.

 

 

downloadTripAdvisor (Former Parent company: Expedia Inc) claims to be the largest travel site in the world, with more than 60 million members and over 170 million reviews and opinions of hotels, restaurants, attractions and other travel-related businesses. In 2014 a survey found that TripAdvisor was the most widely recognized, used, and trusted travel website. The EU has warned that Booking.com and Tripadvisor may have reached market dominance beyond the point of no return. It is my “can’t travel without app”

 

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Hotels.com (Parent company: Expedia Inc) is a very similar to website/app to booking.com.  I believe the prices it suggests for hotels are very competitive, especially when you compare it to booking.com : you can get very good deals through Hotels.com. In addition it has a loyalty program which allows customers to claim discounts on most, but not all, hotels regardless of hotel chain or type.  For every 10 nights booked with Hotels.com customers can claim not only a price reduction on a subsequent booking but also a free night calculated with the average rate of your 10 hotels bookings. Erwin and I are Gold members of Hotels.com a.k.a we use it very often and have utilized the “free” night quite a few times.                                                                                                                          

download (1)Trivago (Parent company: Expedia Inc) is the world’s largest hotel metasearch. Listing hotel rates from the best sources on the web has been their focus over the last 10 years, and it’s still their focus today. Trivago shows the average overnight accommodation prices for the most popular cities worldwide on trivago. The trivago Hotel Price Index is an indicator of current average prices within the European online hotel market: the overnight accommodation prices of over 250 online travel agents                                                                                     and hotel chains create the average hotel prices for cities,                                                                                 regions and countries within Europe especially.

3- Places to eat:

download (2) Zomato is a restaurant search and discovery service founded in 2008. It currently operates in 23 countries in 10,000 cities, including India, Australia and the United States. It features restaurant information such as scanned menus and photos sourced by local street teams, as well as user reviews and ratings. The company also provides cashless payment, online ordering, white-label apps, table reservation, and point-of-sale systems. I do use zomato often. What most is appealing to me is the very organised and friendly user layout and mostly their display of the restaurants menus which comes very handy with my gluten intolerance challenge while travelling. 

quandoo_linkedinQuandoo is as well a restaurant search and discovery service founded in 2012. It currently operates in 12 countries, including Singapore and  Australia. Quandoo became the market leader in Singapore, now cornering the market in five countries including Germany, Italy, Austria and Turkey. It is compared to the Bookatable app, which means it also places the best restaurants at your fingertips so you can book them. The distinguished cool thing about Quandoo is that you get 100 points when you book a table through them. If you refer your friends to quandoo you get an additional 400 points as well. Then once you get to 1,000 points, you receive a 10                                                                                                        euro discount. Everybody likes discounts!

 

downloadTripAdvisor (Former Parent company: Expedia Inc): Erwin and I always refer to it when we need to find a restaurant even if we book it through Quandoo or Zomato.

 

 

 

 

4- Things to do:

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Lonely Planet is the largest travel guide book publisher in the world. Originally called “Lonely Planet Publications”, the company changed its name to “Lonely Planet” in July 2009 to reflect its broad travel industry coverage and an emphasis on digital products. The Lonely Planet website includes travel articles, destination and point of interest guides, hotel, hostel and accommodations listings, and the ability to rate and review sites and                                                                                                                              restaurants. It is the most well known                                                                                                                       for things to do in a city.

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Viator (TripAdvisor parent company), is the leading global tours and activities provider for travelers, delivering online and mobile access to thousands of trip activities including tours, attractions, shore excursions and private guides in more than 2,000 destinations worldwide. Viator has everything a traveler needs to find to book the best things to do. 

 

download (4) Visit a city: Walking tours are a great way to learn about an area. Unfortunately, guided tours are often expensive and require that you stick with the group and your guide, with little to no time to do your own exploring. But some apps are looking to replace those guides, giving you the ability to take a tour at your own pace: whether you are travelling as a family or if you are very limited on time and want to have the most optimal schedule. The Visit a city app has an easy navigation between the locations based on your personal plan and has detailed “audio”guides which will help you find learn more about attraction you are                                                                           visiting, plus what to see and what to do. It works offline as well                                                                     The only disadvantage is that it’s useful in touristic cities only. I                                                                     hope they broaden their horizons because it is a very good app                                                                       and very easy to use. Erwin loves it!

 

foursquare-logoFoursquare is a local search and discovery service mobile app which provides search results for its users. It lets the user search for restaurants, nightlife spots, shops and other places of interest in their surrounding area. It is also possible to search other areas by entering the name of a remote location. By taking into account the places a user goes, the things they have told the app that they like, and the other users whose advice they trust, Foursquare provides recommendations of the places to go around a user’s current location. 

 

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Guide PalWhile mobile travel is a crowded space with new companies entering the market every month, only a few young companies have managed to reach a meaningful size of a million users. Among those companies is GuidePal. Guide Pal’s city guides are created by collaboration between locals and travel journalists. GuidePal aims to offer an unbiased selection of each city’s highlights, with all tips, and advice, curated by experts actually living in the city. Users can build their own personalised guides, create itineraries, invite friends and share tips with them, and book restaurants, hotels, tours, event tickets, and so on. The guides and maps can be made available offline. My hubby uses it a lot, he likes it mostly because it gives a more creative, and less cliche way of touring around.

5- Navigation :

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1- Google Mapsdeveloped by Google. It offers satellite imagery, street maps, 360° panoramic views of streets (Street View), real-time traffic conditions (Google Traffic), and route planning for traveling by foot, car, bicycle (inbeta), or public transportationIn August 2013, it was determined to be the world’s most popular app for smartphones, with over 54% of global smartphone owners using it at least once. I am proudly one of those 54%. I even use it when I am driving in Lebanon and it works perfectly fine. Thank you Google! 

 

unnamed (2)  Sygic: GPS Navigation and MapsSygic is a very popular navigation app that has over 50 million downloads to date. It provides downloaded maps for offline and uses TomTom maps. It has the features like turn-by-turn, voice guided directions (which include voice-spoken street names so you can concentrate on driving), alternate routes, and even a speed limit display. It’s a pretty solid app.

 

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Maps.me: Maps.me is on offline map with navigation & map. It saves money and roaming charges. They have excellent detail of roads, towns, facilities for tourists and even shows walking paths and bike tracks. The offline routes are made for cars and for going by foot. Use it for walking through the new city!

 

364839-nokia-here-maps-logoHERE is a maps and navigation application  for Android, iOS, Windows Phone and the web. Originally developed by Nokia, the application was first released for Windows Phone and the web in 2014, and later for Android and iOS. In December 2015, Here, at the time a division of Nokia, was sold to a consortium German automotive companies (comprising AUDI AG, BMW and Daimler AG) as HERE Global B.V.  You can download maps of countries. In addition to map browsing, users can also search for places, plan routes and utilise turn-by-turn navigation without using any mobile data . Switching back from ‘Use app offline’ to ‘online usage only’ provides live traffic data and additional venue information. Erwin and I use it a lot specially when we don’t have internet access because it is has never failed to provide the informations we needed.

 

UberIMG_0713.0.0Uber Technologies Inc. is an American multinational online transportation network company headquartered in San Francisco, California. It develops, markets and operates the Uber mobile app, which allows consumers with smartphones to submit a trip request which is then routed to Uber drivers who use their own cars. It is no longer exclusive for cars, there is Uberboats in Istanbul, Uber helicopters In New York and now Uberbikes in Amsterdam.  Uber gives consumers a choice between regulated taxicab companies and other forms of transportation and can potentially provide drivers with “flexible and independent jobs”. Users can track the car picking them up on their smartphone, which allows them to know when it will arrive.  A receipt will be automatically sent to their email. Despite all the protests, lawsuits, and the criticism, it has been proven that Uber has changed forever the concept of business, overriding the traditional business models leading the way to other similar rises like Airbnb, Tudou, Netflix, Apple TV.  I personally prefer Uber taxis to normal ones, they are much cheaper and I can even add that they have a safer feel. The only downfall is that you can’t schedule your ride which sometimes can be risky especially if you have a plane to catch.

6- Weather:

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The Weather Channel: In addition to its programming on the cable channel, TWC also provided forecasts for terrestrial and satellite radio stations, newspapers and websites, and maintained an extensive online presence at weather.com and through a set of mobile applications for smartphones and tablet computers.  Aside from location-based weather forecast information, the apps provided radar maps, smaller stuff like wind forecast, pollen  and tropical and seasonal updates, as well as social media related functions that track weather-related Twitter messages and allow users to send Facebook friends severe weather alerts. 
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AccuWeather: is an American media company that provides commercial weather forecasting services worldwide. It is a free app that gives you pretty much all of the information you need, including extended forecasts, hourly forecasts, and the app itself is also well designed. Other features include radar, Android Wear support, and the MinuteCast feature that lets you check on precipitation on a minute basis (estimated, of course). The application itself was redesigned and it looks really good. 
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Wunderground:  is a commercial weather service providing real-time weather information via the Internet. Weather Underground provides weather reports for most major cities across the world on its website, as well as local weather reports for newspapers and website. This app is universal, and can be used on both iPhone and iPad. It is a very competent weather service: it features a  vertical-style layout that contains a ton of information and it can be a little overwhelming until you get used to it. It gives you a ton of info including current weather, forecast, alerts, radar, and much more.  A                                                                                                              definitively great app, not to miss out if you                                                                                                             want accurate weather updates.

7-Exchange rate

 XE.com It is best knowunnamed.pngn for its online currency converter application and offers exchange rate information, online money transfers, and other currency-related services on its web site. So it’s no surprise that its app is so popular: with over 20 million downloads since launch, XE claims to be the world’s favorite currency site. It offers various free online currency tools, including the XE Currency Converter which allows visitors to check live exchange rates of any world currency. Other features include customized converters, a currency encyclopedia, travel expense calculator, and forex currency news. It also functions offline by saving the last updated rates, which is great if you’re in a place                                                                                            with limited connectivity or trying to save on data                                                                                                and on some money schemes .

 

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unnamed (1).pngGoogle translate : This translator can be a useful tool to support your own, more serious language learning, but realistically  it’s most useful on a practical level quickly translating day-to-day words you come across on your travels. For example, you can hold your camera up to text – such as a sign, or a menu – and Google will translate it for you instantly. It’s an essential app for any traveller. You will need data to use all the advantages of the app. Let’s all hope for the day google translate will be working offline too. That would be support awesome as long as nothing gets lost in translation.