This article is part of The Summer Series. Short list-style articles with 5-10 resources, apps or tips that will enhance or ease your experience in summer activities.
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The summer time is time to relax, to think, to travel, and to spend time with your friends and family. It’s time to slow down and enjoy.
I want to transmit this mood with the articles I publish during the summer, so I’m starting a new series called The Summer Series. Every week, I’m going to publish a short list-style article with 5-10 resources, apps or tips that will enhance or ease your experience in summer activities. Let’s keep the summer spirit alive!
The first article of the series is about travelling.
When it comes to planning and organising our trips everyone has a system. Most of the systems don’t have the information centralised in one place. The flight tickets are in the email, the planning in a notebook, recommendations are spread along messages, etc.
What if you could have everything in the same place? And what if the whole process could be automated? TripIt checks your inbox and automatically imports new trips based on the confirmation emails you receive when purchasing tickets. It doesn’t only work for flights, it also works for train tickets, event tickets and a lot more. TripIt generates a timeline with all the activities in your trip.
It also comes with a bunch of very cool features:
- It organises your travel plans in one place and stores all the travel documents.
- TripIt sends you real-time alerts about your flight via email, SMS or phone notifications. So you will be updated when you can do the online check-in, what’s your boarding gate, or if there is a delay on your flight.
- You can invite people to your trip on TripIt so they can access all the information (or just a specific part of the trip).
- TripIt generates a calendar that includes all of your plans. You can sync it with your calendar.
- You can add notes to each part of the trip.
Price: Free (premium version available)
2. Skyscanner Alerts
Looking for the best deal when buying flight tickets can be a bit stressful and annoying. Skyscanner has an incredible tool called Skyscanner Alerts, that allows you to set up your search for a destination and desired price. Then you can activate notifications via email for that search and you will receive an alert when the system finds the flights that you are looking for. I’ve used it many times, and it’s amazing.
Maps.Me is an app for iOs and Android that has an incredible offline maps feature. You can download maps by country and get offline directions and offline search. It means that the app will recognise places, addresses and shops without an Internet connection and get directions to there. It’s perfect when you arrive to a new country and you don’t have a sim card yet.
It uses the OpenStreetMap database and, in some places, it has even more updated maps than Google Maps. In the Philippines, for example, I couldn’t rely on Google Maps, but Maps.Me worked perfectly.
If you are vegetarian, vegan or you enjoy eating all kinds of healthy food, Happy Cow has the best restaurant and cafe recommendations you can look for.
Its database is amazing and it worked extremely well for me in places as different as Cambodia, Dubai, Bangkok or New York. I’ve never got disappointed by the recommendations found in HappyCow and the community there is very helpful.
Price: Free accessing via web & Android app. $3.99 iOs app
Probably all of you know TripAdvisor. It offers recommendations for activities, interesting places and restaurants. Don’t miss out the forums, they have a lot of very valuable information from TripAdvisor’s community.
Couchsurfing is a website that allows you to find a place to stay for free or offer a place to stay to other travellers. But, for me, the most valuable element of Couchsurfing is its community. You can connect with locals and meet other travellers. There are a lot of weekly meetings organised in almost any city. I’ve met amazing people that completely changed my trips thanks to Couchsurfing.
7. Google Translate
Google translate is not the most reliable translator on the Internet, but it works very well when you are travelling. It has two functions that are gems.
The first one is the possibility to use the microphone as an input, and the speakers as an output. Which means that you can talk with other people in a foreign language, using your phone as an intermediary.
The second amazing function is the possibility to use your camera as an input and translate the texts you see in real time. You can download the languages for using Google Translate offline.
TripMode is an app for Mac and PC that allows you to control which apps have access to the Internet connection when you use your phone as a Personal Hotspot. You can easily block unwanted apps from accessing the Internet.
It also shows you how much data each app has consumed on a session. It’s an essential tool if you rely on your phone to connect your computer to the Internet and you don’t have an unlimited data plan.
9. Buy a sim card
Nowadays we can enhance our travelling experiences using apps and Internet services. Maps, directions and recommendations are extremely helpful and having them always available on your phone is priceless. It’s also a must if you aim to connect with locals and other travellers.
Buying a prepaid sim card is very easy and cheap in almost any country.
Price: $5-$15 for a month depending on the country
10. Contract an insurance
One of the most important things I’ve learnt travelling is how important it is to travel having an insurance. You never know what can happen, and if you are not prepared, something unexpected can ruin your trip (and your life).
World Nomads offers very affordable worldwide insurances that allow you to travel freely without contracting specific country insurances. That’s perfect if you just want to buy a one-way ticket and flow.
You can also include in your insurance specific valuable belongings as your computer or phone.
Price: It depends on how long is your trip
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Over the years I’ve improved the way I travel and these apps and resources help me a lot. I hope you find them as useful as I do!
Do you have any tips or recommendations for travelling? Do you use any specific apps or services?
Please, share your recommendations and thoughts in the comments!
PS: My online course Strategy & Business for Illustrators is now available for pre-order!