real life

Travelling To and Exploring London in Apps

Hands up if you have a smartphone with mobile internet capability? You, you and you? Yeah that’s right.

So many people these days have some form of mobile device wether that be an Apple iPhone, Android phone, tablet or netbook and we seem to be using them more and more when we’re on the go. Inspiration from this post has come from me wanting to book transport and quickly organise something to do by myself in London for two days using just my phone.

Now I own an iPhone 5S and I have 4G so I always make use of the super speeds when I’m in the capitol and it came to my attention exactly how many apps I have for when I’m travelling and how useful they really are. Here’s a list of my top five to download when you’re travelling to and around London because they’re a damn sight useful and anyone visiting London soon should think about downloading them.

1) OpenTable
Okay so I actually discovered this online rather than in the App Store but the app and general idea is fantastic! One of the hardest things to do when planning a trip to London is figuring out where you’re gonna be and at what time you need to be somewhere. Add on top of that finding somewhere to eat that’s firstly decently priced and secondly not another twenty minute tube journey away from your hotel when you’ve got an hour and a half to squeeze in before you see a show. For me I have an evening free but I didn’t want to stray too far from where I was staying, spend hours trawling around looking into windows for something I fancy eating that night and then waiting another twenty minutes to get a seat. Enter OpenTable! You put in the nearest tube station, monument or address of wherever you want and then OpenTable will find you nearest restaurant sorted by either distance, popularity or price for you to pick. You also get to read real reviews, browse the menu and reserve yourself a table there and then for free. Free I tells ya! A fantastic little app that I’m sure will silence any squabbles between friends next time I visit and fab for me to choose whatever I want before travelling and taking the stress out of feeding and watering myself whilst touristing.

2) Citymapper
Oh Citymapper, can you just map like every city ever and stay in my pocket always? I downloaded this app last year when I was going to London to see a show and I wanted to make sure that I could get in enough sight-seeing as possible within so many hours before I met up with people. This app speedily works out what tube stations, buses etc you need to get from A to B. It’s a good little portable equivalent to the website journey planner and it’s damn precise too. I use this when I’m planning the day before or when I’m in the city itself and thinking of changing plans. The only downside is that the planner relies on an internet connection so of course you can’t keep a track of your journeys on the go – unless you screen caption a journey and have it saved in your photos (it works!). Recent updates on this app now mean that you can have your favourite places and one saved journey to use when you’re underground so you’re not a slave to the internet. Oh yeah and you know what’s really cool too? This app breaks down the prices of your journey so I know how much to load onto my Oyster card.

3) Google Maps
I’ll tell you some truth. I often hop between Google Maps and Apple Maps on my phone. Lately I’ve stuck with Apples own maps provided by TomTom and they’ve been fine. You can’t go exploring around London without a map of some sort, especially if you’re like me and quite useless with directions. I always have a maps on the go to figure out what streets I need to walk down once I’ve gotten off of the tube. Really handy to zoom into locations as well and literally one of the best inventions since sliced bread. Standard. Both are really good and I recommend downloading either of your choice just to give you that little bit of extra help to get around.

4) London Official City Guide
This is a cool little pocketbook of an app that sits on your phone if your thinking of going anywhere tourist-y and want to find out some more information. Useful for those who want to plan ahead where they are going or just want to scroll through for a bit of inspiration. For me, I have a vague plan of where I’m going and what I want to do whilst I’m in the city but I always have an app like this on hand if my plans change or I feel like doing something different. A really good addition to any city-dweller’s smart device.

5) TripAdvisor
So this comes more under the pre-journey apps to use because you can browse around this app to check out hotels in London and check out their prices and ratings. I didn’t book my hotel directly from TripAdvisor but I used it a lot to check out places to stay and then compare the prices and locations between a few I’d selected. The most important and useful tool is that you can read other people’s reviews of hotels they’ve stayed in to help you make an informed decision to before booking. If a hotel is £50 for a night you’re bound to be looking at something that is too good to be true but you can weed out the good from the bad with this handy app. I used this for days whilst I was on the go between work and home to quickly plan where I needed to stay without any hassle. I always have this app on hand wherever I’m going so I can just plan straight off from my phone and make a decision there and then if I can get to somewhere, extremely good for people who, like me, don’t drive and heavily rely on the time public transport takes so need to total up the price of a hotel for the night on the fly.

So there’s my list of the top five applications I’ve found useful when I’m in London or planning to go there. Do you have any of these applications downloaded already and how do you find them?

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.