Now we’ve been on the road for a few months, we feel like we’re getting to the point where we’re about qualified to offer some advice and info on things we’ve found useful while on the road. We’ve also been lucky enough to meet loads of lovely people who have shared their tips on how to make travelling a bit easier.
It’s been an interesting journey so far – whilst it’s been incredible on the whole, we’ve been horribly lost several times, been robbed in the Amazon jungle, and experienced some truly hair raising night buses… but here are some of the apps we’d rate best for backpackers. Download before you leave as the wifi can be hit and miss elsewhere on your travels 😉
For Storing Itineraries: TripIt
This app is amazing and by far the best we’ve found as a single place to store all the information on your backpacking itinerary. All you need to do is get it installed and set up to your email address and any booking confirmation emails you receive will be automatically added to the app with all details available at the click of a button. It’s also really easy to manually add new items, so whether it’s flights, buses, hostels, tours or anything else, you can store all details together. It’s also available to view offline so no more worrying about accessing booking confirmations when you don’t have wifi.
For Finding Accommodation:
A bit better known, we’ve found booking.com to be great in many instances for hotels, hostels and B&Bs. They offer really good discounts, secret bargain hotels and often you can book with free cancellation. The more you use them the better the deals you get, so definitely worth checking them for accommodation when you’re travelling somewhere new. Surprisingly, hotels and guesthouses can be cheaper than hostels so to keep that backpacker budget as tight as possible, it’s worth checking this as well as the standard hostel sites.
As above really, we’ve found this the best resource for booking backpacking hostels everywhere we’ve been so far. The reviews and scores are super helpful, generally pretty accurate, and for just £1 per person you can make your bookings 100% flexible with your deposit available to use against your next reservation which we’ve found useful a couple of times. Our priorities when filtering? Free wifi, breakfast, hot showers, lockers – all easy to filter by so you can find the best place for you.
For Currency Conversion: XE Currency
I downloaded this on a recommendation before travelling and it’s been one of the most helpful apps to have available for working out current exchange rates. We’re now on at least our 9th currency and it’s starting to get trickier to be constantly remembering and mentally converting back to pounds. Also, as the pound seems determined to continue sliding (thanks Brexit), it’s even handier to be able to keep a constant eye on how much our money’s worth.
For Keeping in Touch with Home: Postagram
This app is my personal favourite and is great for keeping in touch with people back home without the stress of navigating foreign postal systems! You can choose an instagram picture of your liking, type out a quick message, and voila, for $1-2 it can be posted directly to any location worldwide. Whilst you miss out on getting that post stamp from the country you’re in, it’s definitely worth it for hassle free and reliable postage to friends and family. It also means you can share all your favourite pictures!
For Finding Flights: Skyscanner
Another more well known one, we’re finding this great for researching internal flights. Our original plans have already changed and we’re planning to head straight for Bangkok for a couple of months in South East Asia before we go to China and Japan, and it’s been really handy in terms of route planning and price alerts. Also v user friendly and straightforward to book even though it’s just an aggregator. Other flight booking apps / resources we’ve used include Kayak, Expedia and Google Flights which have also been good.
Rome 2 Rio
This app is quite fabulous. You can just tap in any two locations you want to travel between and instantly get route advice, quotes, and transport frequency for taxis, cars, buses, trains and flights. We’ve found this so useful when you don’t know somewhere all that well and want to start route planning and budgeting – especially in both the US and South America where the distances are so vast. I think some features are still in beta mode and it doesn’t yet include all available options, but it’s pretty good on the whole and we use it a lot.
For Languages: Duolingo
Rob’s favourite app this one, he’s used it pretty consistently to pick up basic Spanish terms and phrases to help us get over the language barrier, and unlike me, who gave up after two sessions, he’s actually got pretty good at basic conversational Spanish which has been really helpful. It includes lots of different language options, and you can choose how much time you want to invest in learning. We’ve met a lot of people on the road who have been using this to improve their languages as well so definitely worth downloading.
Google Translate – finally, this one has been an absolute life saver on many occasions. One memorable point being when our stuff had been stolen in the jungle and I was left without my prescription glasses and needed to try and order a new pair in Cusco – google translate did the trick and I had my new glasses in hand with the correct fitting and prescription a week later! Also has a great photo translate feature where you can just hold your phone in front of a sign / menu etc and get an instant translation into a language of your choosing. As with any translation app, it’s worth taking some interpretations with a pinch of salt, but on the whole it’s been super useful.
For Keeping an Eye on the Weather: Accuweather
Bit of a random one and probably a British thing, but we’ve found this quite a nice tool to save and store the weather in different locations we’re visiting. It’s also good for looking at timezones when you’re moving from place to place as it stores these alongside the weather. We’ve found it more or less accurate and much better than the default iPhone weather app and Google weather.
We’ve done this for a while, even back in the UK, but have met many people on the road who haven’t been aware of a handy Google maps function that is definitely worth using. Essentially, it’s possible to download the map of any town / city from Google Maps which means that it’s not only available offline, but the GPS feature means you can see exactly where you are at any given time. Extremely useful when you’re on a bus and not sure what stop to get off at or if you’re just generally a bit lost!
Hope this is helpful for everyone out there, and if we’ve missed any apps that you use, feel free to add them below 🙂
*Just to note that whilst most of these apps are free this post contains affiliate links which means if purchases are made we may earn a small commission*