A self-confessed phone addict, I’ve been researching travel apps to see what I can get for free on my phone, rather than buying something extra to carry. I started looking properly when I saw the cost of GPS trackers, particularly those I thought were a great deal until you add on subscription fees. Hence a cheeky download of ‘MapMyTracks’ on my GPS enabled smartphone.
As I prepare to set off, these are the best apps for travelling I’ve found, that I know I’ll use and will be helpful or fun along the way. There’s a lot out there and a lot that do the same thing so I’d recommend downloading a couple of each and seeing which one suits you best.
Interrail Rail Planner App
I’ve had the Interrail app on my iPhone6 for a few weeks and used it to build out my travel times from location to location, even when I had a laptop handy. Now I’m used to its features, I’m ready to check train times on the go and it even works offline. Apart from train schedules, it shows you the nearest train stations, city maps and facts for each, such as currency, food and drink and accommodation information. It also reminds you of pass benefits per country so there’s no confusion about what’s included.
Best feature: Showing you the trains that do and don’t require reservations so you can avoid the extra cost.
I’m going to be in Rome mid-august and have a pale complexion that easily catches the sun. Apart from taking high factor sunscreen and a hat, I’m going to use this Sunscreen app to remind when I need to reapply on days out. The app knows the UV level of where you are and sets off an alarm when it’s time to reapply, as long as you tell it when you first applied in the day.
Best feature: It tailors the SPF of the suncream you should wear for the expected UV levels in your next destination. Advance planning!
Offering inspiration travel guides from where to eat and which museum to prioritise, Triposo uses six million travellers as a basis to help wanderers in need. Based on your preferences it makes suggestions for what to do in the place your in, including live events and festivals. If you manage to get stuck for an idea or need help deciding, this can definitely get you where you want to be and faster. I think it might be fun to randomly select and do a Triposo ‘roulette’ as long as it’s something brand new to you.
Best feature: All maps and guides available offline! Don’t need Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G…
I can’t say much about this app that you won’t already know but without it I’d be lost. It is an absolute essential and my hit list per destination is stored on routes I can use in this app.
Best feature: Sharing your location with the app means it’ll know exactly where you are and if lost, it can give you directions to somewhere more familiar with an estimated arrival time.
It’s Google Translate in app form and works for over 90 languages. As accurate as the main site (so not nuanced but it’ll help you out), if you’re stuck during a food shop it’ll help you find the translation for ‘beef stew’ to get your taste of home while abroad. Interface is as clean as you’d expect and it does what it says on the tin in a variety of languages.
Best feature: If you need a sign quickly checked, this app can tell you what it says if you point your camera at it and snap.
Map My Tracks
Using GPS, wherever you’ve been, this app will know it and let you download your route on your Mac and PC for keepsies. This is perfect for me as I want to map my route through each destination to see how much I’ve explored and to build out a memento of my summer. The maps look clear and from a walkaround it seems accurate enough.
Best feature: Unlimited route tracking for free (In theory… I’m still figuring out the in app purchases).
Amazon Kindle App
No books, no Kindle, just the Kindle app. Downloads can be read anywhere on the go and saved where you left off so you don’t have to worry about losing your space. I also like that they say you’re ‘72%’ through the book to spur you on. I won’t be doing much reading but I want this back-up for when I need to zone out.
Best feature: Download all the classics for free! I do love books but recently they just help me go to sleep. Charles Dickens will be a useful aid on late night trains.
Hadn’t heard of this one before. It simply tells you based on your location, where the best spots are to take great travel photos. Once in the app, you’re part of a wider community and can share your images with fellow photographers. In beta but worth a go.
Beat feature: My favourite aspect is the fact you can be strolling around Europe without having to miss perfect photo opportunities. It cuts out some advanced planning which’ll be useful for anyone backpacking whose short on time.
Narrowly missing the list were XE Currency as Google is clever enough to give you currency and conversion rates with one search, Hostelworld as I’ve booked everything up so it’s more for those looking to sort accommodation on the go and Trevi, because I’ll sort my photos neurotically on my own terms!
Communication apps like Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter go without saying. Have you got any apps specifically for travelling or longer trips that would be a great addition to my list?