Tips and Inspiration
Comments 31

Apps for the road

A few weeks ago (okay several weeks ago- I have been slightly useless over the exam period) Ellis Goes On Holiday received its first ever press release about an upcoming infographic on travel apps for smartphones, called ‘must have apps for the savvy traveller’. It caught my attention because I’ve never really used apps whilst travelling. I mean, I have a German dictionary, a map of Venice and a currency converter but that’s about it. In fact, the first time I went travelling, I was so worried about losing an expensive phone that I bought a basic one that didn’t even have wifi access. It was very reliable but forking out to use computers to get onto the internet was an additional, and unnecessary, expense.

A couple in particular caught my eye. Word Lens translates words for you, through your camera. For someone like me who has incredibly limited language skills that would obviously be invaluable. Tipulator gives information about tipping cultures in different countries. This is something I often find myself wondering about, the first time I eat in a restaurant abroad- particularly when the waiter looks offended and I have to quickly fumble for more cash.

I decided to try out some of the recommended apps. Unfortunately, not all of them are available on all mobile platforms and since I’m running on very limited funds at the moment, I can only try out the ones that are free and available on iPhones.


In addition to those featured in the infographic, several more apps are suggested in the adjoining text, alongside details on all the featured apps, including which phones they are available on. To see this, click on the image above. 

Foursquare is an app that recommends tried-and-tested things to do and places to go in areas close by. It also includes ratings, distances and tips given by previous visitors. I’ve lived in Kent for around 22 years and it brought up places I had never thought of or even heard about- so that should be handy when I’m looking for new blog post topics!

Urbanspoon recommends nearby places to eat. From fine dining to cheap eats, from breakfast to dinner and from pub food to Japanese food- you can find something that fits both your appetite and your budget. You can also find ratings and opening times and in some cases you can even make a reservation. I was delighted to find that there is a Bill’s Restaurant in my local area. I did not know that but I will be on my way there soon.

Foodspotting is another app that suggests local eateries. Not only does this app recommend restaurants but it also recommends specific dishes to try and dishes that other people have tried and enjoyed or have heard about and want to try. You can’t go to a country without sampling the local delicacies, so this would be a great app for finding places that do it well. There is also an option for finding food that will be delivered- if you fancy a lazy night in.

Wi-Fi Finder tracks down public hotspots close by and abroad- both free and those which have to be paid for. I had a look at my nearby town and could spot several places where I knew there was wifi which the app had flagged up- so it looks pretty promising! It did say some coffee shops provided paid wifi when I think they do it for free but, on the other hand, you do have to buy something, so money still has to change hands!

Pin Drop is an app I’m pretty sure I could accidentally spend hours on. The app allows you to put pins on a map to mark various areas, so you can flag up places to visit and plan your trip. You can also share your pins with friends and with the public and recommend places to go. I’m off to Berlin in a few days so once I’ve finished this post, I am probably going to start creating my map!

Magic Hour is handy for any budding travel photographer. The app uses your location to tell you when you can expect to see the sunrise and the sunset and how long each lasts. Readers will know that I like my sunset shots– they are a great addition to any travel album- but at these times of day, there is also a great light for shots of other things as well. You can even set alerts so that you don’t forget.

On Word Lens, I seemed to be able to install English-German translations for free (Russian, Portuguese, Italian, French and Spanish were also available). I tried to find the £6.99 language pack option but I couldn’t track these down- fingers crossed I didn’t get charged! This was the app I was most excited about and it did not disappoint. Getting the camera to focus on a block of text wasn’t too easy and since it (understandably) translated words directly, it didn’t always make sense but if you want to translate something on a sign or a menu, for example, it would be perfect. I could have done with this app sooner!



  1. Thanks! This is great. I will check out word lens at once, since my Italian still is pretty bad…:)


    • Thanks for your comment- I would definitely recommend word lens, it is handy for those emergency translations!


  2. Hi Ellis, I definitely agree about Foursquare. I’ve used it to discover so many places off the beaten path both at home and while traveling, and it really does help you find new places to explore (which comes in handy for blogging).


  3. Does the WordLens require wi-fi to do that? My boyfriend’s Windows Phone has that feature already (a free app I think) but it needs to access the internet to do it – meaning not great when travelling if you don’t want roaming charges! 😦


    • I think Word Lens does actually work without the internet which is rather handy- I always switch off mobile data when I’m away because I’m too scared of the charges!


      • Ooh, brilliant! Might have to invest of it does languages other than French, Germany, Spanish and Italian. An app like that would.have been soo useful in Hungary or Finland! And imagine in China or Japan!! 🙂


      • Exactly! I couldn’t find the language pack option so I’m not sure what other languages are available but I’m sure a bit of browsing should uncover it!


  4. Packing my Suitcase says

    I have to admit that I love apps, especially travel apps! And some of them I didnt know. Thank you for the tips, I will check some 🙂


    • Thanks for your comment- I think I’ll be using travel apps more now that I have an idea of what is out there!


      • Packing my Suitcase says

        Yes!! Its a great idea, it makes your life easier while traveling…technology! How crazy, and a few years ago we needed a paper map to go everywhere! 🙂 I still like them though.


  5. I like the infographic. I’m surprised Yelp isn’t included on there. We’ve also heard a lot about TrailWallet and TripIt, which we’re planning to test out on our month-long road trip in a few weeks…
    Thanks for sharing!


  6. Pingback: An Explorer’s Toolbelt | Misadventures with Michael

  7. I’ve just downloaded Pin Drop! I feel like I’ve just made a big mistake because I can see myself spending a lot of time pinning places I’ve been and want to go! On the plus side, it’s a great way to keep track of all the things I want to see and do…thanks for the recommendation!


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