Traveling around Europe is such a fun experience, but with exploring comes a few challenges. We live in a day where there is practically an app for everything, and I’ve been using some apps since being here that have made my travels a bit easier. Basic functions on all these apps are free.
This is one app I really can’t leave the house without using. HERE maps is a GPS that can function without the use of data or Wi-Fi. With HERE maps, you can download the maps of different countries. In preparation for the Hungary weekend trip, I downloaded the maps for that country. Since being here in Budapest I don’t think a day has gone by that I haven’t opened up the HERE maps app to get us where we need to go. The majority of the time, if you’re trying to visit a famous landmark or a well known restaurant you can type in the name of the location and HERE maps will take you straight there. It gives driving directions, transit and metro directions, and walking directions. In the event that it doesn’t recognize the name of the place you want to go, as long as you have the address it can get you there.
Typically in Europe splitting the bill at dinner is not standard, so one person usually has to pay for everyone’s meal. In the event you want to fly together, often all of your flights need to be booked at the same time, so one person ends up paying for everyone’s flights. Paying back the person foot the bill can be confusing, especially when the bill was paid in another currency. The easiest way we’ve found to pay back each other is by using the Cash app. Once you figure out the amount you owe your friend in U.S. dollars (you have to figure out the conversion yourself), the Cash app lets you pay them electronically. The money goes straight into their account. You have to enter your card information into the app in order to send and receive money, which may sound scary to some, but it truly is the best way we’ve found for transferring money to and from our peers.
Free (with in app purchases)
This is the most recent app I have downloaded, but I have used it a lot since I got it. Like I mentioned before, we were in Hungary one weekend and despite the fact that they are in the European Union, they have their own currency. Figuring out how much things were on a menu was so confusing at times, and this app really saved the day. The app is free and provides up to three currencies for conversion without paying for the advanced version of the app. In addition to currency, the app also has options for length, speed, temperature and power conversions.
Whenever I’m traveling on the weekends, my favorite way to find somewhere to stay is by using Airbnb. Airbnb is a website that acts as a middleman between you and private individuals who are listing their homes as a place to stay. I much prefer staying in someone’s home as opposed to staying in a hotel. Usually where you stay is not going to be in a touristy area of the city, which is nice if you want to experience the city in a more authentic way. If you’re in a city to see the sights and aren’t looking to experience the food, if you’re staying at someone’s house you more than likely will have access to a kitchen and can cook your meals to save a few bucks. Another perk to finding housing through Airbnb is that the accommodations are usually cheaper than a hotel. Some places on the website are only $25 a night, and if five people are on your trip, that’s $5 per person per night. It’s not always quite that affordable, but that is just an example of some of the amazing deals you can find on the website. Also, sometimes, the people who own the property are there during your stay. This is a great way to meet really neat people and usually they can tell you how to make the most of your time in the city you’re in. Since they live there, they can give you dos and don’ts on things that are worth seeing and things that aren’t.
If you have a Eurail pass, the Rail Planner app is the best way to plan your train itinerary. Rail Planner is simple to use and is accessible even when you don’t have access to data or Wi-Fi. The app gives you time information and train numbers and tells you if a reservation is needed to ride that particular train. This app is what I used to plan the trains we needed to take to Budapest.