Whether you are travelling with a data plan or not, these must have apps for travel will make your trip so much easier! There are some great options for taking your phone with you on your trip. You can rely on the surprisingly abundant free wifi in hostels or unlock your phone and get a cheap SIM card in each country you visit to have limited calling, texting and data.
When embarking on our backpacking trips, we bring only our phones and no laptops. We have never added data or calling and we actually both suspend our phone plans to save money while travelling. As long as we have wifi (which is widely abundant in hotels and hostels!) we can FaceTime and upload pictures to Facebook to let our mothers know we’re still alive. As well, we can research hostels, best places to see and how to get there all on our phones easily. Only bringing our phones saves us from worrying about having our expensive laptops stolen. Below is a list of our must have apps for travel. So clear off all of your 8 year old photos, Spice Girls music and fantasy sports apps to make room for your travel photos and shiny new travel apps!
MapsMe literally saved our lives multiple times in South East Asia. We told everyone about it! We were absolutely amazed when we found out people had been travelling for months without an offline maps app like this one. It allows you to download country maps into the app. Once your map is loaded you can find hostels, restaurants, and even map out routes while on the move without needing wifi. Your location finder doesn’t require wifi, so you can use the app to show you where you are on your offline map. This came in handy many times when we were skeptical of where our taxi driver was taking us. We just had to take a quick look at the app to relieve our fears. It’s also useful when you’re figuring out if you can walk to your next hostel or take a taxi. Often your drivers tell you its a ten kilometre walk and the map tells us its actually only two!
XE Currency is a must, especially if you’re jumping from country to country as fast as we were. As soon as you finally get used to the exchange rate, you cross a border and have to learn a new one. And we’re not talking 75 cents to the dollar, or simple conversions. The Canadian dollar is worth exactly 16,322 Vietnamese Dong. Doing those calculations in your head while trying to bargain with a shop owner for some sweet elephant pants is not easy. This app allows you to save your commonly used currencies on your phone and compare them to your home currency easily. Once you upload the rate on wifi and add it, you can use it offline. It will also update to the current exchange rate if you open it again while you have wifi later. It’s super helpful while you’re trying to budget whether you can afford that Big Beer Lao that costs 15000 kip (psst go for it, that’s like $2 CAD, and it’s huge!).
Booking.com was really helpful for us travelling as a pair because it shows you the prices per room, not per person. Staying in private rooms in guesthouses or hostels was often cheaper than each paying for a bed in a dorm. We often used the in app map to scout out hostels and then window shopped when we arrived in a new location. This is because booking a place in person was usually cheaper especially during low season. When we were arriving by bus anytime after 10:00 pm we always made sure to have a place booked beforehand, which was quick and easy. The nice thing about booking.com is that you don’t have to use your credit card through the app to pay, it just reserves the room and you can pay cash when you arrive.
We seriously could not live without these apps so give ’em a try and make travelling that much easier (also do it because they’re free). Happy travelling!