No doubt a smartphone can make traveling so much easier these days. What did we ever do without them? Here are five apps we found super useful on a recent visit to London.
Gett: Yes, Uber does exists in London. But why not support the black cabs whose drivers spent a fortune in time and money in order to pass The Knowledge. Hail down a black cab in London and you can be assured that the driver will know the shortest and quickest route to your destination -- without using Google Maps. It doesn’t matter if you give them a street name, a famous landmark, a hotel name or famous point of interest, they will know exactly where it is and they will get you to it in the shortest route possible. For the 8 years I lived in London, I always took a black cab when I needed a ride, as I knew they were licensed (meaning safer!) and always knew where they were going. I am happy to continue to support the black cabs today and this is their app of choice for booking a ride. Tip: the app's also useful in NYC.
Offline Google Maps: When I first moved to London, I remember having to walk around the city with an A-Z in my bag. It's hard to imagine life nowadays without Google Maps. But when you are traveling overseas, that can mean huge data roaming fees. Google has now made this a non-issue by allowing you to download sections of its maps for use offline. So before you go, head to the app and download central London so you will never be lost.
Tube Map by Mapway: When in London, I take public transport the majority of the time. It's super easy to navigate and goes almost everywhere. This app gives you both the Tube map and rail network at your fingertips and lets you plan your route in advance o on the go. If you enjoy taking a double decker bus from time to time, which I do on places such as Kings Road, download the corresponding Bus Map app for timetables, route planning, and nearest bus stop locations.
Santander Cycles: Better know as "Boris Bikes", this is London's self-service, bike-sharing scheme. With the growing number of bike super highways in the city, it's a great way to get around on a nice day. Just remember to ride on the opposite side of the street. The app lets you see up-to-the-minute information about bike and space availability at docking stations, book a bike right from your phone, and plan your journey with an easy to follow map.
London Coffee Network: Between jetlag and all that walking around town, you are going to need a coffee break -- probably a few times a day. Skip Starbucks and head to one of the local cafes like Monmouth or Kaffeine. This app will help you find the best coffee closest to where you are at any time of the day.