Where would we be without apps? Possibly just talking to each other, but now life is digital, we don’t need to bother! Everything can be achieved by whipping out your phone- after all whatever you want- there’s an app for that! Long gone are the days of grabbing your Lonely Planet and heading off into the sunset with a phrase book and a vague plan. Now you can book every moment, and even virtually meet your future friends by checking out who’s checking in to your hostel in advance. So, for those of you who like to be prepared; which apps are the most useful to download into the palm of your hand? Here are our top 10 useful apps for backpackers.
#1 Google Translate
Where would we be without Google? Maybe lost up a certain creek with no paddle, however thanks to apps like Google Maps and Google Translate, we’re now able to find a way out of almost any sticky situation. Google translate has one of the largest libraries of vocabulary of any translation app, so it’s essential to avoiding those little misunderstandings when things are lost in translation, and to tell bad jokes to your new friends in a selection of languages. Beware that chat-up lines don’t always translate that well, trust us on that!
If you didn’t get the ‘gram it didn’t happen, right? Everyone has this app but more than just a place to brag, it’s also useful as a visual diary of where you have been for yourself, and by searching using hash tags, you can find new cool places to visit. Instagram is actually now the place most travelers get their inspiration about where to go. It has made places off the beaten track famous and made it easy to find the most photogenic spots in each destination. Some people say Instagram has ruined secret spots, but others say it has inspired new travelers. You can decide for yourself.
Formerly Go Europe, this app is super useful for finding the next buses, trains, boats and even buying tickets. Similar to Rome2Rio, this has an interface that is easy to understand and is updated live to sync with ticket suppliers. You can even buy train tickets minutes before in the station to avoid queuing and missing your ride. Just use the barcode emailed through to get through the gates. We love it!
We think Maps.me is the most reliable offline map service out there, with the most accurate location finder. Google Maps is always useful, but not always as accurate – we’ve all found ourselves wondering around in circles following it, let’s face it! Due to the detail, the maps are pretty greedy in terms of valuable space on your phone, so maybe just download the pieces you need in advance rather than the whole world.
#5 Marco Polo
Think of this as the best way to leave a video message for your friends, family, or loved ones. You can send messages to individuals or create a group, and since all messages are saved in the cloud, it doesn’t take up any precious storage. They can then pick up the message anytime, and you can see when they’re watching live. Great for when you’re in different time zones.
For those who like to couchsurf and meet locals the Couchsurfing app is great for finding new travel buddies and locals to stay with. If you like meeting International friends and finding out more about local living; this might be the app for you. It’s also great for those on a tight budget, and reciprocal in term of building a community. So don’t be surprised if your new buddies from all around the world turn up on your doorstep when you get home!
This app is our favourite for finding out the cheapest flights and the best routes for our Next Big Adventure. Flights are synched with airlines to give you accurate prices, similar to KAYAK, but we find the booking interface the easiest and the app is very quick and easy.
We kid you not: Tinder is a great way to check out local talent and make friends as you are passing through. Think of it as a local expert to show you around, or someone to go to a gig with, a beer with, street food with – whatever! Just make sure you’re up-front about if you’re looking for romance or a local buddy, and take the usual precautions when meeting a stranger. The rest is up to you!
This is a great little app for when you want to learn a language in advance, so you can impress on arrival. It uses fun ways to learn through movie clips and TV shows, so you can understand a little about culture as well as more useful vocabulary than some other language apps out there. A great way to get an idea of locals before you arrive.
If you ever wondered how to get to Timbuktu: Rome2Rio is the app for you. It tells you how to get almost anywhere in the world – showing you all kinds of routes you never dreamt of, from boats to buses to trains and planes: they also our updates with ticket suppliers so you can buy online. Great great for adventure seekers.