I'm Tara.

I'm just a silly little girl who likes to go places and tell her silly little stories.

SLK documents the adventures I've had across 5 continents & who I've become on my journeys. 

You can read my full story in the 'About' tab! 

the travel apps I actually use

the travel apps I actually use

I realized recently how easy travel has become for me. For anyone lucky enough to own a smartphone or a laptop. I've been traveling long before the days of laptops or smartphones. I remember having to use a map. Like, made of paper. And asking to use phones inside shops if my international calling card wouldn't work. Sure, travel brings a set of challenges. But I thrive solving those kinds of obstacles. I can sort my shit out, usually thanks to technology and how easy it makes being on-the-go. 

So, travel apps. Guys, I have downloaded them all. Truly. If it's a travel app available for my iPhone, chances are I've downloaded it and given it a whirl. Some apps are location specific and once I leave, I remove the app. Most others are given a trial, then get deleted and are rendered of no use to me. 

Here are the travel apps I actually use...


Planning

Skyscanner //

  • status: essential

I have tried Momondo and others that are similar, but the truth is I book my trips through Skyscanner almost exclusively. It always seems to be where I find the best deals. I find and book flights both domestically and internationally using this app. I learned about this little diddy from S a few years back, before that, I used Kayak and Google Flights. I also totally dig the 'everywhere' search feature.' 

AirBnB //

  • status: essential

AirBnB connects people to unique accommodation all over the world. Whether you are looking or a private room or an entire home, you can find great deals to rent {and even lease} lodging wherever you are. If you haven't already heard me sing its praises, let me take it so far as to say that AirBnB literally changed the game of travel for me. It allowed me to have the personal and local experiences I so long to have. It also brought me together with some incredibly kind hosts who gave me top tips for places to visit off the beaten path. 

PackPoint //

  • status: helpful

I use this app simply to create my own pack lists for each country or city I'm visiting. This is important when you have been sent blog packages with clothing you need to shoot. It allows you to make sure you have everything accounted for and your outfits for posts grouped. To be fair, I've used my 'Notes' app too and it works fine. 

Pinterest //

  • status: essential

I do a shit ton of research on Pinterest before I go anywhere. Each 'pin' usually links back to a travel blog with advice on convenient areas to stay in, what to pack, ideas for where to go and what to try. I've found an abundance brunch spots and free/cheap things to do thanks to this little baby.

Instagram //

  • status: important

On my 'blog/travel' account, I follow all my favourite travel bloggers. Thanks to geotagging, I can easily find where they took a sick looking picture! I am constantly bookmarking cool coffee shops or new restaurants to try. Instagram is a sure way to find new travel trends and up-and-coming local treasures. This is how I found Paper & Cup, a non-profit coffee shop in Shoreditch that I visited last summer with S. Why isn't it marked 'essential'? Only because, while it shows major trends in travel and showcases beautiful places to snap, I also like to dig deeper and find places that locals recommend, not just that influencers are paid to promote. However, it is highly helpful and sits on the border of essential. 

Tripadvisor //

  • status: important

I use Tripadvisor less than I should, but enough that it's downloaded and sitting on my iPhone. I like review apps simply for the most obvious of reasons: they let you know if something is going to be shit before you spend your own hard-earned money on it. There are millions of users, which means that there are deep archives of reviews to be read from all over the world on everything from cruises to whole countries {Tonga's review} 

Yelp //

  • status: helpful

You can find the most highly reviewed salons, restaurants, and attractions wherever you go on Yelp. It's quite similar to Tripadvisor, but unlike Tripadvisor, Yelp discourages business owners from encouraging visitors to leave reviews...don't ask me why?? I got hard into Yelp thanks to my sister's college roommate {and actual sweetest human alive}, Kaley. Kaley is not only a total foodie, she's a Yelp Elite! After finding out what that even meant, I became obsessed and downloaded the app. You can {and definitely should} follow Kaley on Instagram here. She will tell you exactly where on the East coast to find the best food {and she recently moved from the D.C. area to NYC!!}. Honestly, I use Tripadvisor more for finding places and reading reviews, but I seem to leave most of my own feedback on Yelp. Probably because I'm dying to get that Yelp Elite status too!


On the Road

Period Diary //

  • status: important

Health is really important to me. Especially 'women's health', if you get what I mean. Men, skip over this. It won't be helpful to you.

You're probably thinking "What's she gettin' up to on trips?" It's not like that. Hand to the Universe! This app actually helps me keep tabs on my natural health. Since I don't use birth control {other than while I lived in Laos}, I use this app to keep track of my cycle, since it can get 'off schedule' and organically shift while traveling. I can expect when it's coming and that also allows me to know when I'm late. I like knowing that I'm healthy because when I'm more than a few days late it's a sure sign of high stress or unhealthy habits {weight gain, too much alcohol, etc.}. And if I'm that stressed or I'm gaining enough extra love handle to cause a shift in my cycle, it's probably a good indication that I need to make some kind of change, whether it's being more active while abroad or finding a way to combat on-the-road-stress. Traveling is more fun when your body is healthy. 

Maps.Me //

  • status: helpful

I picked this one up in Hong Kong thanks to Touk. I would have been lost in Japan without it. Maps.Me lets you download a detailed map of your location completely offline! What's best about this app is that it works in even the smallest little villages {think Nong Khiaw}. You can get by without it, but in places like Tokyo, I've found it more useful than your everyday map! 

Dropbox //

  • status: essential

I have had a Dropbox for a while now, but it wasn't until I realized just how many videos and photos of the girls in Laos I had on my phone from last year that I decided I needed to download the app and use it to its full potential. It's a lifesaver having everything organized and in one spot. Also, Nostalgic Tara {who seems to be dying these days} likes keeping old photos safe. 

XE Currency //

  • status: helpful

While traveling around Asia last year, I finally stopped using this bookmarked site on my Google Chrome browser and downloaded the app. Who was I kidding? I used this all the time. It stays current with exchange rates and gives it to you straight. You can also send money with XE Currency, but I have not tried that. 

PayPal //

  • status: essential

An easy way to safely exchange money or book tours. I used PayPal heaps with Tash throughout the adventure of a year that was 2015. I have also used PayPal to book cooking lessons in Greece, buy concert tickets in Paris, and things of the like. Mostly though, whenever a friend books tours or makes reservations for the group as a whole, PayPal is a simple way for everyone to transfer over their part of the total. 

Mint //

  • status: helpful

What budget dreams are made of! You set a budget for yourself in categories like 'Food', 'Entertainment', etc. and you'll receive notifications when you have exceeded said budget. This can be especially helpful if your wallet is a bit tight, you're a first-time traveler, or you are confused about the currency {spending more than you think you are...}. I'm good on a budget, but I love utilizing the bar graphs to see on which category I'm spending the most money or where I can make adjustments. This also helps me see where I'm spending the most, i.e. what country or city is making my debit card cry loudest. 

Google Translate //

  • status: important depending on region

I picked up this trick from Luke. I didn't know it was actually its own app, however, until recently. It's easy to switch between languages and it's pretty accurate for the most part {grammar exceptions apply}.  This helped me find medications I needed in Asia. I simply translated the name of the medicine, took a screenshot, and brought my phone with me to the pharmacy. It makes it easy AF. Traveling around Europe, it'd be less necessary, obviously. I used iTranslate for a while but quickly got sick of the ads. 


Communication

Whats App // 

  • status: essential

I once used Viber to keep in touch with those I lived on the other side of the world from. It was alright, but I quickly changed to Whats App. I used this as a total lifeline in Laos. It works just the same as texting and it's easy to create groups. 

Skype // 

  • status: important

The ultimate in maintaining long distance relationships/friendships, amirite? I really should be a spokesperson for Skype. It's great for seeing the faces of your loved ones on the other side of the world. It's also ideal for making low-cost international calls when you have to. Face-time, Messenger's video chat, and Skype are all applications I've utilized heavily to maintain relationships with the people I love. Just the other day I got to Skype my best friend and when the connection ran shaky, we switched to Messenger's video chat. Skype is also the main app used for international interviews! 

Messenger // 

  • status: essential {without What's App}, otherwise important

I keep this app for certain people in my life who don't have Whats App. Does anyone not have the Messenger app downloaded on their phone? I'd be shocked. I appreciate that you don't have to have Facebook to utilize the message services. 

So, there you have it. An insight to what my phone's 'travel' folder looks like. 

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