10 MUST-HAVE APPS FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Here are some of our top picks for the upcoming festive season.
thfose or of us who are not planning on using December as an opportunity for a full digital detox, mobile apps can certainly smooth out some of the predictable bumps in the road as we negotiate local and global travel:
Airbnb’s Trips – ‘experience the real deal’
The much loved homestay network Airbnb, which specialises in listing short-term lodging in residential properties, has just released its Trips offering. Calling it the most significant development in its eight-year history, Trips aims to personalise travel by offering users access to experiences that are designed and led by local experts. The goal is to immerse travellers into local communities and give them real, authentic insights and experiences – instead of remaining the excluded outsider with little to no understanding of the local culture and environment. The app has just launched with around 500 so-called Experiences in 12 cities worldwide. For travellers with a thirst for the unexpected, Trips will certainly be worth a try. In a local first, executive mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, was hosted by Airbnb Experience host Delecia Forbes as one of the first Trips experiences. Forbes’s offering introduces travellers to the dynamic art community of Cape Town, and enables them to interact with the artists and their work.
Penzu – keep a daily diary of your (mis)adventures
Many travellers still take advantage of their downtime to write down their thoughts, feelings and observations as they feed their wanderlust. But in the chaos of moving around, it can become near impossible to keep track of your notebooks, postcards and personal diaries. Unsurprisingly, there is now an online solution in the form of Penzu, a web-based journal tool that allows users to create a personal online diary. There are three account options available: Classic, Pro and Pro Plus. Prices range from free for the Classic account to $49.99 for Pro Plus. Most reviewers agree that the Classic version provides all that most daily journal writers would require.
Duolingo – learn the language
For global travellers, nothing is more frustrating (and limiting) than not being able to speak the local language, or at least have a grasp of the basics. As a mobile app, Duolingo is one of the best free language-learning programmes. It currently offers more than 20 languages in easy and accessible bite-sized formats. You can decide how much time you want to spend learning on a daily basis (15 minutes for the lazy, an hour for the dedicated), and the app tailors the lessons according to your preferences. Although there is no real-time e-tutoring, it is certainly one of the best ways to quickly – and painlessly – learn your way around a new language. In October, Duolingo launched a talking bot that allows users to practise their conversational skills by talking to the bot. The chat bot is currently only available on iPhones, and only for users learning French, Spanish or German.
XE Currency – for easy online conversions
When travelling abroad, it can be exhausting (and anxiety-provoking) to keep track of spending when you’re dealing with foreign currencies. To make life easier and let you know exactly where you – and your South African bank balance – stand, this free app keeps you up to date with current rates. It is one of the most popular and frequently used digital tools for converting currency, and it will store the last updated rates (so even when you don’t have an internet connection, you’ll still be able to do your conversions). Users can immediately check on the values for every world currency, and for the geeks and traders among us it lists precious metals and over 30 000 currency charts for historic rates. You can also personalise your settings, so that the most relevant numbers and charts are immediately displayed on your mobile device. The app is available in several languages, and has become a must-have for both the business and leisure traveller.