Technology has made travel even easier. And though some may prefer to rough it old-school, I like to combine my Lonely Planet travel guide and smartphone for the best travel experience.
Some apps help you get from to A to B, others keep you occupied during transit or help you once you’re at your destination. These are my favorite and very useful travel apps you should download before your next trip.
Maps.me, Google Maps and Rome2Rio
This app is a lifesaver. Maps.me offers offline, crowdsourced maps of pretty much any place in the world. Simply download a specific region while you have internet access and you can use to navigate while you’re on the road. You can even improve and add to the maps yourself!
I still also use Google Maps. I usually look up spots when I have wifi and pin them for later. Google Maps now also allows you to download maps for offline use. It’s one of my most used travel apps.
Rome2Rio is perfect for figuring out how to get to your next destination. It shows a variety of different options for flights, trains buses and car. Although it is not always accurate, it does give you an idea of how long it will take to get somewhere.
iOverlander and WikiCamps
Most airlines now offer e-tickets and smartphone boarding passes. Which is why download the apps form the airline companies I fly with so I don’t have to print out a boarding pass.
Saves time and paper!
Flixbus and BlaBlaCar
I use these apps specifically in Europe. Flixbus is my go-to bus company when traveling in Europe (they’ve even expanded to the US!). BlaBlaCar is a ride sharing app that can help you find affordable transportation around Europe. Both are very useful travel apps for budget backpackers.
Couchsurfing is not just a way to get free accommodation, it also a community. Couchsurfers and hosts organize events and meet-ups everywhere in the world. Though the app you can easily find fellow travelers in your area that want to hang out and explore or go for a meal.
Hostelworld and booking.com
Hostelworld usually has the best reviews and information and it’s my go to in Europe. It is also used more by young backpackers, so the reviews fit my own standards more. But Booking.com generally has a larger selection of accommodation, so I ended up using it in more remote areas of South East Asia.
As hotels and hostels pay a commission to these platforms, I suggest booking directly with the hotel. I use both Booking.com and Hostelworld to look for accommodations and then try to book directly at the hotels’ website.
XE currency converter
It can be hard keeping track of exchange rates and currency while you travel, especially if you suck at math like me. XE currency converter shows you the current conversion rates for your selected currencies making it easier to figure out the price of things without having to do math.
You can also use it offline, although the app needs an internet connection to get the most current exchange rates.
If you’re traveling somewhere you don’t speak the local language, Google Translate is your best friend. Even though you’ll usually be able to get by with English and a lot of non-verbal communication, it’s not always enough.
Google Translate’s algorithm is sufficiently sophisticated (although not perfect), to help you translate with great accuracy. It even works offline if you download the languages!
And the camera function allows you to “read” menus, signs and texts in any language. I have a master degree in Linguistics, and I approve of using Google Translate 😉
I use Instagram a lot while I travel. And not just to post jealousy inducing pics for my friends and family back home. Instagram is a great way to research possible next destinations. Simply search for posts geotagged your spot of interest and see what it is really like.
I even use it to check out the weather for my next destination and to ask people for tips on things to do there.
Netflix and Spotify
Travel can mean a lot of waiting and long, lonely hours on buses, trains, and airplanes. With the offline options of Netflix and Spotify, I am never without easy entertainment. I simply download a few episodes, podcasts and playlists before I go.
Tripadvisor is a great source of first-hand information from fellow travelers on things to do at your destination. But I mainly use it to find good, affordable food around Europe.
I also use Happy Cow to find vegan and vegetarian eats wherever I go.
Uber, Lyft and Grab
Especially in South East Asia where public transport can be unreliable, sharing a Grab will get you there for the same price. And Grab and Uber drivers can usually give you some sightseeing tips as well.
Keep in mind that Uber isn’t legal in all parts of the world.
Dropbox and Google Photos
Dropbox isn’t a traditional travel app, but one that can make travel a lot easier. I always keep a copy of bookings, tickets, passport and insurance information in a Dropbox folder that I share with my mom. That way we both have access to my info in case of an emergency.
Google Photos offers unlimited free storage for all those amazing travel pics.
What are your favorite travel apps? Which apps can you not do without on a trip? Tell me in the comments.
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