Social media and apps have drastically changed the way people travel. No longer are vacation-goers privately booking their flights, grabbing their guidebooks and sharing their trips only through photo albums. Nowadays, it’s all about sharing trip details, seeking help from strangers and interacting as much as possible along the journey. The following apps are especially designed to make your trip more social, before, during and after.
Like Facebook for hostel and budget hotel booking, WeHostels is one of the top social travel apps allowing travelers to interact with hostelmates before leaving home. With over 50,000 accommodations across 800 cities, you’ll open the app and choose your city to be brought to a list of top-rated hostels and a map with their locations. When you click a hostel you like, you’ll be able to view photos, information and reviews — as well as a limited view of who will be staying there when you are. Once you book, you’ll be able to open these potential travel friends’ profiles to browse their interests and send them messages to plan meetups and potential day trips. It’s a great tool for solo travelers to have in their app arsenal, not to mention groups who want to branch out. Price: Free to download + hostel booking fees if used.
Lyft isn’t your normal car service, but a ride-sharing app where drivers are community members offering affordable rides in their own cars. As of now it’s available in about 70 cities, and users are encouraged to sit up in the front and become friends — not just passengers — of the driver. Charge your phone, adjust the radio and share stories with a local — or even take things off the road and grab a bite to eat, as this is what Lyft is all about. Bonus: Drivers are encouraged to really show their personality with themed rides or “Lyft Creatives,” some of which currently include HipHop Lyft, DiscoLyft, Harry Potter Lyft and Cookie Wars Lyft. Price: Free to download, but you’ll pay for your ride.
While many know Pinterest for its ability to help people share high resolution photo-centric content, it also has a Place Pins feature that allows travelers to discover, share and save travel ideas on a map to create a custom trip guide. This map can be pulled up on your phone, as well as shared with friends, who can also add recommendations. Otherwise, you can simply search what other users have come up with and borrow their inspiration. Price: Free.
According to the team at Ask a Stranger , people are 30 to 60 percent more likely to have a future experience accurately predicted by asking a stranger than by using research and inner speculation alone. Travelers can use this brand new app to ask travel questions, that are sent out to knowledgeable locals who earn points incentives to provide answers, with more points awarded to quicker answers that receive positive feedback from askers. The more points collected, the more money earned from the community pot, as askers are charged a small fee to collect credits to put toward questions (50 credits is 99 cents, and you receive 100 free just for signing up). Each question costs 10 credits from the asker. A private chat feature also allows travelers to make friends with locals and even meetup to explore together. While the app is available in beta right now with over 2,000 users, it will officially launch to the public in early November. Bonus: Anyone can sign up to answer and/or ask questions, and answering can be a fun way to make a bit of extra cash on the road. Price: Free.
This simple-to-use group trip planner allows groups to coordinate travel details on a single online page. A coordinator sends invites to group members. From there, the attendees can have discussions, share ideas, post group polls, search and save activities, restaurants, vacation rentals and hotels, and build an itinerary. There’s also an expense manager so you can track who owes who money. Price: Free.
Staying In Touch
The aptly-named SpeakingPhoto is exactly what it sounds like: an app that allows you to create photos with audio narration. You’ll be able to take a new photo or use an existing one to add narration, a great way to create you’re own travelogue or interactive travel story — without having to be proficient in video. Once you’re finished with your creation, tap the screen to share it on Facebook or Twitter, email to loved ones or send it via text message. Price: Free.
For those interested in mingling with new travel companions before the cruise even begins, Ship Mate Cruise App is a must-download. According to the app, they are the “world’s largest mobile cruise community,” with over 1 million users. With the app you’ll be able to connect with other passengers before, during and after the cruise, with some features including a Ship Info section that tells you about your ship (there are 200+ in their library), the ability to track different ships, a cruise photo sharing feature with enabled comments, member-generated cruise reviews, and, possibly the most exciting feature, a dashboard that stores your personal itinerary, excursion options and ship info and the chance to chat with other cruisers. Price: Free.
For those who don’t want to travel solo but have nobody to join your trip, Travel Buddies helps you find trip partners by posting trips in your profile or on the Public Wall, filtering member searches to find travelers with similar interests and searching for travel partners by destination heading to, age and sex. During a trip, the Member Nearby feature allows you to see the profiles of nearby Travel Buddies users are near to connect via email or chat. Bonus: Even if you’re not traveling you can use the app locally to make new friends. Price: $0.99.
What’s your favorite social travel app? Please share in the comments below.
This post was originally published on US News Travel, written by me.