I still remember that night I signed up for an Uber account.
It had been three hours since I left work yet I was still desperately trying to hail a taxi. Rain was pouring, and every single one of the cabs that stopped refused to take me even after offering an additional P150. At the time, I wouldn’t mind spending more. I just wanted to get home. I was this close to offering my soul to Our Lady of Perpetual Waiting, when it finally dawned on me. Drenched, exhausted, and awfully frustrated, I finally downloaded the Uber app.
I am an extremely cautious person. Everyone who knows me well knows that it takes a great deal of convincing to push me to try something new and unfamiliar. My friends find it weird, considering that I am a digital guy and my entire work background has a lot to do with technology. Before becoming a full-time travel blogger, I was a social media consultant. Yet, it wasn’t until 5 years ago when I had my own credit card. And whenever there is a new app, it takes a while for me to jump into the bandwagon. I don’t even play mobile games.
But that night changed me. Not only did I get home, I got home fast and safe and more open to new technology. I’m still very careful in choosing which apps and websites to trust, but I began to develop a warmer, more welcoming attitude towards travel apps in general. And before I knew it, I was relying on them on almost everything. It became even more pronounced when I became a full-time traveler. These apps have saved me a lot of money and time, and saved me from so much frustrations.
Aside from the usual maps, translators, and currency converters, here are five apps that took aggregation and crowdsourcing to a whole new level and changed the way we travel for the better.
There are a lot of comparison apps and websites out there. Some compare airfare. Others, hotel costs. What we love about Traveloka is that they compile and compare BOTH flight and hotel costs. And then some.
- Their mobile app comes with several helpful features, but the one we love the most is their PRICE ALERTS. By activating alerts on the Traveloka App, you will be notified whenever there are awesome flight deals that become available, depending on the parameters you set. For example, if you’re planning on flying to Boracay, you can enter that specific route and your budget limitations into the app, and when there are flights that match those, you’ll get alerts.
- Traveloka has flight and hotel promos almost every week, which are great for bargain hunters and budget travelers.
- Booking fees are also waived. Unlike other online travel agencies, there is no additional charge when you book with Traveloka. What you see is what you pay.
Traveloka may be fairly new in the Philippines and the name reads curious and, to be frank, sounds funny. But trust me, it’s legit. It is a giant in the ASEAN travel scene — present in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The only kaloka thing about it is how useful it is.
The company is now valued at $2BILLION after Expedia invested $400Million earlier this year. So expect Traveloka to grow even bigger in the next few years! Traveloka has also sponsored Asia’s Got Talent and the SEA Games to gain a stronger footing in the region.
Nothing beats user reviews when it comes to finding establishments to take your business to. Whether it’s hotels, restaurants, attractions, or tours, TripAdvisor provides testimonials from actual customers, assisting me in making an informed decision. Photos also help manage our expectations. Sure, there have been surprises – high-rated but turned out to be rubbish, low-rated but pretty good – but it reflects reality in most cases.
Side note: Traveloka also uses TripAdvisor’s ratings alongside their own score system, which is convenient in finding the best hotels!
As travel bloggers, we get partnership offers from tour companies all the time. When it comes to online tours, we decided to go with Klook. And there’s a reason for that.
First, we were able to try their service and we loved it. We were able to sign up for an account, search for a tour, and book in no time. The website is super user-friendly and easy to understand.
We met with Klook last summer and had a proper sit-down discussion on what sets them apart. We were impressed with how much work it takes before a tour gets included in their listing. It’s not a simple aggregation of random tours. They actually try it themselves one by one, making sure that the quality of the activities they offer meets their standard.
When I’m walking, often Google Maps is my guy. But when we’re driving, Waze becomes my best friend. Waze is the third member of our team when we’re on a road trip!
The idea behind Waze is genius — using collective real-time user data in order to estimate travel times and assess traffic situations while giving driving directions. It also takes advantage of crowdsourcing — users can report traffic accidents, road closures, or any change on the map.
There are misses every now and then — no app is perfect — but more often than not, it is extremely reliable especially when it comes to traffic warnings and alternative route suggestions.
5. Uber and Grab
Remember that night that I downloaded Uber? The one I mentioned earlier? Well, that’s not the only time Uber saved me from a commuting nightmare. Even Grab — GrabTaxi and GrabCar — has been helpful too. These ride-sharing apps have completely changed the way I commute around areas that are too far from the bus routes.
But Uber’s usefulness isn’t contained here in Manila. I have tried it in other countries and they really are safe, fast, and reliable. The most common tourist scams around the world involve cabs: meter tampering, overcharging, money switching. We’ve fallen victim to them many times! But now, we have learned our lesson. So when we’re not familiar with the city yet, we usually just take Uber on the first day until we become oriented enough with the local commuting realities. Only when we have tips (especially with regard to scams) from our hostel manager or a trusted local do we take a cab.
Many entities — governments, businesses, people — try to suppress these new technologies. I dunno. Maybe they see them as a threat. Or maybe just like me in the beginning, people are wired to repel things they do not understand. It’s always easy to dismiss new technology or new business models. But look around you: THESE APPS ARE THE FUTURE. You just need to give them a chance.
Disclosure: The Poor Traveler is a Traveloka ambassador and Klook affiliate.