The reign of the clunky GPS is over and hailing a taxi in the street is becoming a thing of the past. Nowadays, there’s an app for everything, which is great news for families who like to travel light. All the tools you need to navigate a new city are probably already sitting in your pocket. Here are eight essential transport apps for travelling.
This might seem like an obvious choice, but Google Maps is a great starting point for moving around anywhere in the world. Get directions by bike, foot or public transport, and compare routes and all your transport options within the one app. Be wary, in cities with loads of skyscrapers, Siri can get a little confused and end up pointing you in the completely wrong direction. Hey, technology can’t be perfect, right?
Your local public transport app
Most city’s public transport network will have a free app to help you plan your journey. You can get timetable information, alerts for service disruptions or delays, and real-time updates on when your next bus, tram, train or ferry will arrive. The only restriction you may face in less tourist-friendly countries is a language barrier. If the app doesn’t have an English language option, consider translating and writing down the details before you leave the hotel and lose WiFi.
Moovit uses data from local public-transport operators to give you real-time departure, arrival and service-disruption information. It shows walking directions to your closest stop and lets you know how many more stops before you need to alight (so you can get engrossed in your latest page-turner without worrying about missing your stop). Moovit operates in 86 countries and has more than 300 million. Sound like a lot of data? That’s actually what the app relies on. The technology is designed to collate data from transport providers around the world to help cities better manage their population flow.
Car Next Door
If you need a vehicle to transport your stuff or get somewhere tricky, you can rent one from a local who isn’t using theirs. Car Next Door is a neighbour-to-neighbour car-sharing service that lets you rent cars, vans and utes from people in your neighbourhood. It’s free to join and you can borrow cars by the hour or day. This is also a great app for commuters who only use their cars on weekends. Instead of leaving your car in the garage to collect dust, you can loan it to neighbours or travellers and earn a bit of extra cash.
This website helps you find free rental cars. Yes, free. Rental companies need to reposition their fleet for new hires, and travellers in the know can help relocate those cars. It’s a scenario where everyone wins: travellers get free car hire for a few days and rental-car companies save on expensive relocation costs. You can filter relocation jobs by pick-up and drop-off location, vehicle type and transmission. It’s an awesome way to do a one-way road trip, then fly back.
Finding a reasonably priced ride to and from the airport can be a tedious task – but this app compares thousands of transfer companies so you can book the best deal for when you need to go. If only I had this app when I handed 60 Euros over to a cranky Frenchman for a 10-minute drive from the airport.
Whether you’re a serious lycra-wearing cyclist or a casual commuter, Strava will help you track your rides and remind you of the fitness benefits of your journeys. See your ride plotted on a map and track everything from your speed to your heart rate and calories burned. You can also share your real-time location with a friend or family member, so they can monitor you getting home safe.
Uber, Ola, GoCatch, Taxify & Shebah
Ridesharing services are a great way to get somewhere cheaply and easily. If you don’t want to walk, ride or take public transport, you can get a lift from someone for just a few dollars. You can also pay a lot more than a few dollars if you choose a premium vehicle such as’ Uber Select’ to pick you up. There are several services operating in Australia. Uber is the biggest and most established, but there’s also Ola, GoCatch, Taxify and Shebah (for women only).