sexta-feira, 22 de julho de 2016

Travel Apps

Hey! Welcome to the digital world!

I must confess that it took me a while to finally have the guts to book a flight or a hotel room through an app. But when I did it, boy did I get addicted!

I've always done these things through my computer and no problems there, but when you are on the road it's much easier to book everything you need using your cell phone.

This is a screenshot of my cell phone apps. I drew pink arrows to the ones I'll be talking about today: Airbnb, Flixbus, Ryanair and Hostelworld.

First of all: space! These apps are somewhat heavy to download and nobody wants to have a cell phone full of cool apps that keeps getting stuck. Then, very good wifi/4g connection, because if I'm typing my credit card number and lose connection it just freaks me out. One advice, you can take it or not, is to have the same name and password for all your travel apps, which can save you some time. You can also just never log off and/or write down your passwords on a note pad app.

Here we have two choices of accommodation and two choices for means of transportation.

To Go:

Ryanair app: Once you have downloaded and logged in, click the big yellow button to search for flights. The app doesn't allow you to search for "anywhere in the world" like the desktop version does, so you have to type from and to, but, before that, make sure you selected one way or return. Then you have the boxes to type the date you'll fly out (and/or fly back). When you open the calendar to select the date you'll see that sometimes they only have flights on Tuesdays and Fridays or they just don't have any flights for the next two months. Sometimes it helps if you change the airport (if possible), if it doesn't, I'm sorry, you're too late so you'll have to choose the dates they are offering you. They also show you the price for some days before or after the day you chose, this feature has saved me some money!

Alright, so you have the airports, dates and number of passengers, you will now have a list, or not, sometimes just the one, for the available time of the flight. 

Please, be sure you can arrive at the airport on time! I'm saying this because once I saw a one way ticket for 9,99 euros, but the plane would depart at 6:30am, I'd have to arrive at the airport two hours earlier, but there wouldn't be any buses available or subway train. So, I chose the next time available, at 2:30pm. Paid 16 euros... oh well.

Now, comes the payment part. Type your name, credit card number and nationality. Very important: if you DO NOT have a European passport, you CANNOT check in using the app and you will HAVE TO print your boarding pass. At the airport, DON'T FORGET to get in line for checking in one hour before departure.

If you have a European passport, you can at least one day before, check in via the app. Your boarding pass will be saved in the app for you to show at the departure line. It comes with your name, seat number, time of flight, where you're going and a QRcode. You have to show the real one, screenshots don't work. And, please, don't forget your passport.

Enjoy your flight!

Flixbus app: In case you don't know this company yet, here's some info: it's a German company currently in 20 countries! Their app is really user-friendly. As you can see from this screenshot, you have easy access to booking a trip, selecting the from and to, dates and number of people. Right next to the booking icon, you have my tickets, that means in case you might have mutiple locations booked, which means multiple tickets, they are all there in a very organized way. I say this from experience!

The app also allows you to choose the station you prefer (see the screenshot below). It gives you a variety of prices according to their timetable, even if there's any transfer or if it's a direct bus ride. I personally like to play with the dates, so they also allow you to see the prices for the day before and after you've selected.

Once you've booked your ticket - you know the drill, complete name of passengers and credit card number - you will now have your saved bookings in my tickets and it doesn't matter if you have a European passport or not, just now the QRcode from your ticket with your passaport or ID to the bus driver and you're good to go. Although I see many people who can't trust QRcodes so they print their tickets, another available option, but never a screenshot, it just doesn't work, I also say this from experience.

It happened to me once so I think I should share this information with you. One day before my trip with Flixbus they sent me an e-mail saying that the time of my bus ride had changed, so they were sending me a new QRcode. I got a little anxious about it, but again this is good for you to know to stay, or try to stay, always connected while traveling. So the next day I showed the new QRcode to the bus driver... it wasn't working properly! I explained what happened and asked him to check the old one. All the information was there, my guess is that they updated, and this simple code (there's nothing else, no name, no nothing) shows the bus driver number of passenger and their names for him to check with you passport.

Enjoy the ride!

To sleep:

Airbnb app: Never booked with Airbnb before? What are you waiting for? Since I had two great stays booked with Airbnb hosts they are nowadays my number one choice of accomodation. I strongly suggest you to do your booking via the app, because they have this amazing feature: you can exchange direct messages with your host in real time!

First of all, create your profile: picture, brief description of who you are, what you like doing and so on. Then, there are hundreds of hosts for you to choose, just type where you are traveling to. They all show pictures of the bedroom you'll be staying, what kind of amenities you might have, what's nearby and feedbacks. Always read the feedbacks because sometimes they say things that might encourage you to stay there or maybe describe something that is not your cup of tea.

Before I booked my first Airbnb room, I sent a message to the host to know if her place was walking distance to the tourist area and other doubts I had since it was my first time staying at a stranger's house. She was always polite and helpful. So, I booked!

For everybody's safety before closing your booking you will have to take a clear picture of a personal document (passport, driver´s license...), have an online account of any social media and let them check the validity of your credit card number before your booking is finally complete. But all of these things are just for the first time you're using the app, for your next bookings they'll have all this information stored.

You'll receive confirmation of payment and reservation by e-mail .

Have a good night sleep!

Hostelworld app: Another affordable option of accommodation is staying at a hostel, whether your young, be it physically or mentally, single, a couple or in a group. Hostelword app allows you to search any type of hostel you want. Again, read the feedbacks written by people who have stayed there, some details you'll only find reading feedbacks. You'll register, via the app itself, type destination and start looking for your perfect hostel. Search for most relevant, price, location, party hostel, small, boutique, you name it!

From my personal experience, I just had to choose the hostel, click book, and pay a pre-booking fee of 4 euros, which was part of the total payment, the rest of it I'd only pay at the hostel. Of course I was logged in, so they already "knew it was me".

How simple is that?

One thing that is worth mentioning is that I paid Ryanair, Flixbus, Airbnb and Hostelworld with my pre-paid travel card! After my trips with them, they all (except the flight company) asked for my feedback, which, in my opinion, is a big deal for the travelers' community.

Ready to travel? So go on and download your new best-friends!

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