Are the apps jostling on your phone a bit like 15 salesmen stuck in a lift, each one trying to grab a slice of your attention for something you don’t really need?
Try these nifty bits of travel tech for a pleasing contrast. The folding stuff (or whatever the digital equivalent is) each app will potentially save you makes any brief learning curve worthwhile.
Download them and you should get more to spend on the fun part of travel: meeting new people, having great experiences and buying the odd really cool thing.
Save (time and money) on budgeting
Speaking of the fun parts of travel, budgeting is rarely one of them. Yet it can contribute to the pleasure of your trip by prolonging it.
Rather than blowing hours of travel time better spent exploring, one answer is to outsource the beancounting to that device you’re probably also navigating with.
Of a handful of budgeting apps suited to travel, Trail Wallet, for iOS (free to try and then £4.99; 4.7 star rating), gets some of the best feedback.
Built by a couple who say smart budgeting is what’s let them travel continuously since 2010, the app is impressively simple. (Pennypinching combined with impenetrable tech? No thanks!)
Track expenses just by scanning receipts, and add amounts in your home or hundreds of local currencies. Then view bold, simple charts to compare your daily, weekly or monthly spending against your planned budget.
Trabee Pocket is a comparable Android app (free with in app purchases; 4 star rating).
Save on phone calls
Still haven’t quite got over the novelty of calling friends and family for free over Skype or WhatsApp when travelling ?
Well, free when you’re on Wi-Fi. Enter Ringo (free to download on iOS and Android; 4-star rating), which takes that pricey international call and cleverly shunts it on to a local network, giving it a local number.
It then sends it through submarine cables and on again to the local network in the receiving country, still magically appearing as if from your phone.
The firm claims its costs are typically 25% lower than other international calling apps.
Save on tips
Should I tip or shouldn’t I? And, if I do, how much? Tipping is a travel minefield.
Two extremes are Japan and the US. Tipping just isn’t part of Japanese culture; it’s considered condescending and altogether too direct.
Go Japanese in your average NYC bar, however, and you’ll break pretty much every local social code going.
When tipping, fair minded travellers want to do what’s right without ripping themselvesoff.
For tipping on the road, what you need is the electronic equivalent of a local whispering in your ear.
To that end, GlobeTipping is a popular tipping culture primer and calculator app for iOS (free with in-app purchases; average 4.4 star rating). Tip N Split Tip Calculator is an Android equivalent (free with in-app purchases; 4.6 star rating).
Save on currency conversion
Changing your cash is another less-than-thrilling part of travel but it’s one where you can consistently shave off savings.
There are plenty of conversion apps around but, with more than 25m downloads and a loyal following, XE Currency (free on iOS and Android for basic version; 4.5 star rating) takes some beating.
It’s attractive to the cost-conscious traveller not only because its accurate conversions will stop you being swindled but also because it’s Wi-Fi or 3G free: it just refers to the last rate it synched to when online.
It has plenty of other smart features, too, such as a tool to work out what fee you were charged for a conversion and graphs to show, eg, the euro’s value relative to the pound over time.
Save on Wi-Fi
OK, so the scam of roaming charges may no longer be such a threat to British travellers now that phone companies can’t get away with it in Europe, but that leaves much of the rest of the world to be telephonically fingered in.
Enter the little man-and-woman’s friend, Wi-Fi Finder (different apps with same name and functions – free on iOS; in-app purchases on Android; both have 4-star ratings). Short of urgently having to look up ‘how to fish’ on a life raft mid-Atlantic, you may never have to rely on roaming again.
The app maps free and fast wi-fi hotspots worldwide. Web addicts need just stick their metaphorical moistened finger of a smartphone into the cyberwind and head in the direction of signal.
The iOS version also gives you free – and fairly up-to-date – wi-fi passwords.