Without your usual 4G connection (and even with it) and surrounded by the unknown, there are a few life saving travel apps you can get when planning your trip that will make your life a lot easier. The list below tries to focus on the type of apps rather than recommending a specific one as we all have preferences and taste that vary. I inserted a logo when I felt a particular app was truly better than the other ones available. Find the one app you like best for each type and have a great trip!
1. Offline maps
There are always times abroad where you find yourself wondering where you are, how you got there and how in the heck you are gonna ask a local to get back to a place you know. While offline maps should not be a substitute for the wonders of human connections, there are times when they are complete life savers.
I recommend Maps.me, probably the most famous app among backpackers. It relies on OpenStreet Map, has details about hostels, sights, transport stations, etc. It is therefore much more people-friendly that downloading offline Google- or AppleMaps which you can also do if you are a supporter of big capital and economical monopolies.
It works very simply. You download the map of the region you will be in and can use it any time after that, until you delete it to clear space on your phone. GPS works and can be used when driving your rental car, trying to figure out which bus stop you need to get off at or getting by foot to a worthy sight of your choosing.
It is truly a precious tool.
2. Photo backup storage
Be it Dropbox, GooglePhotos, Icloud or what not, it is very, very handy to have all your photos backed up in the cloud. During travels, phones break, get lost or stolen more often than at home and the last thing you want is to combine the emotional pain of losing both your best friend and your memory at the same time. Backup storage also allows you to delete pictures on your phone to make some space once you’ve uncontrollably taken pictures of your smug little face in front of every other thing you saw. There’s always a new selfie opportunity around the corner so don’t miss because of a full storage space.
3. Note-taking app
If you are just a little social, you’ll inevitably bump into someone that has been where you’re going next on your trip. These people are full of recommendations about the best party hostel in town, the less touristy part of the national park, the uncovered treasure no travel guide will mention. More often than not, these places will have weird, unfamiliar names. The amount of information might also be too big to remember. That’s where you should draw your app faster than a bullet and start writing down all that precious information. The database of treasures you will create will enhance your trip and experience manyfold.
I can recommend Evernote, Google Keep or just your simple note-taking app that every phone should have. Depends if you wanna be able to access it from different devices or share it.
The days of the paper dictionary are limited. Why carry a potentially heavy and large paper version of what you can have in your phone, more user-friendly and guaranteed to always be in your pocket? Google Traductor lets you download languages so you can use the dictionary offline. It is very handy but not always super accurate. I’m researching better apps but this one already provides a helpful hand in most situations.
5. Language app
When you experience the genuine joy and happiness that illuminates the face of a local the minute you trily to mumble a few words in their language, you’ll pick up such an app and start learning some basics. Duolingo is world-famous now and is the only good app I know you can use for free. If you are willing to pay for the Premium version, which is only a few coins per months, you’ll also get access to the lessons offline.
6. Shazam, forever!!
Probably the greatest app ever invented, Shazam will be extremely useful if you are a music-lover, eager to discover the local genres and artists. At the sound of an outstanding tune, Shazam will allow you to log it in your playlist and save it for later pleasures. Most places you can hear music have wifi nowadays but even if not, Shazam saves the info and finds you the artists later. Don’t leave without it!
7. Currency converter
Especially when traveling across multiple countries, currency converters can be very useful tools. There is always a time you can remember which currency is worth what, or wanna find out how much the local currency exchange is trying to screw you with big commission. Especially if you are bad at maths, this can save you a lot of money. Just make sure to have updated rates if using it offline.