Booking A Trip On A Mobile: My Guide To The Best Travel Apps


Booking a trip on a mobile is something I’ve never tried before, but I managed to book an awesome weekend trip to Istanbul right from my phone. The best thing about this wasn’t just the ease of using the mobile-optimised site, but also that you can now grab those moments of spontaneity by the cojones when you think, “Man, I’ve got to get away, and soon!”

Mobile tech meets one of the world’s oldest cities, Istanbul.

Turkish carpets

It was my first visit to Istanbul, and other than doing a bit of Wikipedia research on the fascinating history of the city, I purposefully stopped short of researching too much so that I could see it with fresh eyes.

No need to pay a king’s ransom; stay at the Saba Sultan Hotel

Saba Sultan Hotel

I picked the highly rated 4*Saba Sultan Hotel for the bargain price of £60 per night for a twin room for three nights. The hotel was smack bang in the middle of the Old Town (Sultanahmet60), within walking distance of almost all the ‘must-do’s’ of the city.


The hotel itself was unpretentious, and combined with the terrific roof terrace and equally awesome staff, it always proved a welcome haven to retire to each day. If you run out of beers on the terrace whilst watching the sun go down over the Blue Mosque, they’ll be more than happy to run to the shops and bring you back a couple of cold ones. This kind of generosity and welcoming demeanour was equally apparent in almost every other local we met in the city.


Do travel apps help or hinder?

I wanted to test the ease and usefulness of a few of the best travel apps, so here are some of the ones I used and my verdict for each of them.

But first: JAMIE’S #1 most important tip for using apps abroad: Despite being pretty tech-savvy and careful with my data usage, I completely underestimated how much data my phone was using. I munched 10mb on my first day in Turkey, at £6/mb! Having learned my lesson the hard way I then turned data roaming off completely and just used the free WiFi hotspots that were available in every single bar and restaurant we stopped in. I would definitely recommend this approach.


Budget tracker

Simple Spreadsheet (Android only)

Cost: Free
Description: A simple spreadsheet application, like Excel.
How did I use it?: Note down everything you spend your money on and create a little formula that adds it all up so you can keep on top of it.
Pros: Free, simple, fast.
Cons: Fiddly to write formulae but that’s only a minor thing. None really.

Spontaneity Score: 8/10

Battery booster

Battery Doctor: Android / iPhone

Cost: Free
Description: A quick and easy way to boost the battery life of your phone.
How did I use it?: This is the only app I’ve used that really does add precious minutes to your phone battery.
Pros: Free. Has the potential to keep you connected in your hour of need.
Cons: Perhaps a touch overly complicated.

Spontaneity Score: 7/10


What to see and do

Pin Drop: Android / iPhone

Cost: Free
Description: Drop virtual pins to make customised maps. Add notes, share with the community.
How did I use it?: One of a few apps I used that showed me cool things to do in my current surroundings.
Pros: Smart looking app that’s nice to use. Gave me one or two really useful tips.
Cons: A newer player to the scene so not the biggest following yet, but picking up pace. Needs to include more up-to-date reviews.

Spontaneity Score: 6/10

Field Trip: Android / iPhone

Cost: Free
Description: Guide to cool, hidden and unique things around you.
How did I use it?: This was one of the reasons my data was so high. It runs in the background constantly and then automatically updates you when you’re near something cool. I turned it off as soon as I realised, so I didn’t really get to use it properly.
Pros: Nice idea, in terms of it automatically updating you. Can read them to you through headphones/bluetooth.
Cons: Don’t use this when on roaming data as it’ll munch your megabytes.

Spontaneity Score: 6/10



Google Translate: Android / iPhone

Cost: Free
Description: Can translate 80 languages.
How did I use it?: You can write, speak or even take a photo of something and text it to this great app which will translate it for you. I used it on menus!
Pros: Definitely the best translation app out there.
Cons: It’s much more fun to ask a local what it means!

Spontaneity Score: 8/10


City Maps 2GO: Android / iPhone

Cost: Free
Description: Download your maps before you go so you don’t need to use data abroad.
How did I use it?: This was my favourite app by far. Lightning fast and also downloaded loads of data on attractions, restaurants and bars, including some reviews of each. A lifesaver.
Pros: Data-saving, fast, customisable, free.
Cons: None

Spontaneity Score: 10/10

Istanbul shop

Reviews and recommendations

TripAdvisor: Android

Cost: Free
Description: Want to know what the world thinks about something? Use TripAdvisor.
How did I use it?: The biggest and probably still the best of review apps. I used it a lot for quick checks that we weren’t missing any highly rated things to do or see.
Pros: Huge community following. Reviews on absolutely everything.
Cons: What does ‘good’ or ‘bad’ even mean? Everything is subjective! Your 4* may not be the same as my 4*!

Spontaneity Score: 8/10

Foursquare: Android / iPhone

Cost: Free
Description: Keep up to date with what your friends and the community are up to.
How did I use it?: It’s a bit like TripAdvisor/Pin Drop but with a bit more of a social media angle. I found some useful reviews on it.
Pros: Nice interface. 40 million users.
Cons: Many people complain that it’s going downhill and not as good as it used to be.

Spontaneity Score: 6/10


Booking your trips is now pretty easy; with a mobile and apps you don’t even have to break your spontaneous stride whilst booking your next trip! (Probably safer to be stationary though!)

I would love to hear your experience of mobile bookings and any app recommendations. Either leave me a comment below or get in touch with me via with your top tips.

And don’t forget to check out our new app – click on the buttons below to download!




About Author

Jamie Bezencenet - Spontaneity Champion

Jamie Bezencenet is's first Spontaneity Champion. This year the 29 year old is on mission to help the UK become more spontaneous by completing challenges around the world. Follow his adventures in 2014 as he enjoys up to £50k worth of free experiences. #bespontaneous

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