Disclaimer: While these apps are built for travel, you should not use them while driving. Using your phone in a vehicle isn’t just illegal but it puts your fellow motorists and pedestrians in danger.
As a courier company we spend a lot of time on the roads. Windy roads in the Highlands, cobbled backstreets in Edinburgh and the motorways that tie everything together.
With so many miles under our belt and so many tech savvy drivers on our books, we’ve picked up a fair few travel apps along the way, covering everything from navigation to National Rail. So, here’s our top 8 apps for the tech savvy traveller.
Google Maps is the undisputed king of map apps. It comes preinstalled on most smartphones and is the go-to for anyone in need of directions. Of top of almost worldwide map coverage, you’ve also got pretty comprehensive Street View coverage in Europe, North America and a load of other regions.
When Apple replaced Google Maps with their own alternative, there was an almighty uproar and Apple had to reinstate it.
In short, people love Google Maps — and for very good reasons.
HERE WeGo (Free)
HERE MAPS has one huge advantages over apps like Google Maps and Citymapper: you can download the maps to your local storage.
Simply select the area you want to download over WiFi and it’ll stay on your phone. That means you don’t have to worry about running out of data or phone reception when you’re out and about. It’s even got offline turn-by-turn navigation as long as you stay in your downloaded area.
Think of Citymapper as a sat nav for people without cars. Tap in your destination and Citymapper will whip you up the perfect route using buses, trains, trams, taxis, tubes and whatever else your city of choice has to offer.
It’s a really polished app with loads of lovely features. My favourite, though, is the Rain Safe filter, which shows you covered routes so you don’t get soaked on your commute!
The one drawback to Citymapper is its coverage. Because of the care and attention that goes into every map, it takes the Citymapper team a long time to roll out city-specific maps. Currently there are 36 covered cities, including London, Paris, Boston, Tokyo and Sydney.
It’d be unkind to call Moovit a lite version of Citymapper … but that’s sort of what it is. Moovit is basically a public transport-only version of Citymapper. No walking and no taxis, just buses, trains, trams and tubes.
Live notifications are the biggest selling point here and can keep you abreast of what’s going on across the network, which is pretty handy for avoiding those 45-minute delays.
Sat navs are great for telling you how to get from Point A to Point B. Go here, turn there, straight on and you’ve arrived. Simple, right?
Well, what about if there was a crash on the road before that last turn? Sat navs are great when stuff’s going well but they fall down when you need to react on the fly.
For that, we turn to Waze.
Wave — now owned by Google — is a collaborative traffic and navigation app. It basically works like a normal sat nav but highlights congestion and accident spots, which have been submitted by other Waze users. Effectively, it’s a living map updated by the people who are actually using the roads.
Waze is brilliant for making on the fly changes and is sure to get you home before a more traditional sat nav.
Dashcams are big business all over the world, allowing motorists to capture what’s going on on the roads in case of an accident or other incident. However, except for helmet-mounted GoPro’s, they’ve never really taken off in the UK.
Well, now there’s an easier solution: an app.
Apps like CamOnRoad turn your phone into a dashcam, using your in-built camera to record what you’re seeing out the windscreen and uploading it to cloud storage. Just set it up before you leave, hit record and you’re away.
CamOnRoad gives you 2GB of free cloud storage — approximately 3 hours of video — so it should work on longer commutes too.
National Rail (Free)
With dozens of train operators operating across the rail network, it can be tricky to keep track of what’s going on. Thankfully, there’s an app out there that pulls all those timetables into one place.
National Rail’s app is brilliant. It has every single timetable for every single train journey in the UK. It has disruption alerts, individual train trackers and let’s you buy tickets without the extras fees and levys charged by sites like the Trainline.
Changers CO2 Fit (Free)
Changers CO2 Fit is completely different to the other apps on this list. You see, it’s not really about how you get from A to B or providing data on the roads between A and B.
Instead, it’s about looking at the journey itself and how you take it.
Changers tracks the way you travel — distance and mode of transport — and calculates the amount of CO2 you’ve saved compared to driving.