The Best Travel Apps For Backpackers

No more bulky maps thanks to smart phone apps!

What Are The Very Best Travel Apps?

best travel apps, backpacking apps
Was this the first ever travel app?

When I first hit the road, I took a tent, a sleeping bag, several books and a few clothes. I didn’t have a laptop, a camera or a phone of any kind. Whilst I do miss those simpler times, a whole range of Best Travel Apps have made traveling around the world so much easier…

Technology has made our planet seem smaller and safer and there are now dozens of dedicated travel and backpacking apps out there to make your travels easier. Whilst in some ways, backpacking apps can almost make things a bit too easy, the fact of the matter is that the technology is here and it would be damned silly not to fully embrace it; I mean once upon a time even the humble compass was cutting edge technology right?!

So, let’s take a look at the ten best backpacking apps to download before you head off on an adventure around the world…

1. Utalk

So to read this, you must have at least some English and whilst it’ll allow you to travel pretty far, you can’t get quite everywhere. If like me, you tend to head off the beaten track you are at some point, going to run into a language barrier you’ll wish you could break. Learning a language is of course, useful and rewarding but is simply not always possible.

uTalk is one of the few language apps that work anywhere in the world, I have used this to barter for a brand new smokin’ pipe in Colombia and to get to know my police bodyguard in the Pakistani mountains. It is hands down one of the most useful backpacker apps on my phone. One of the best backpacking Apps out there, it holds more than 130 languages and is constantly updating! How many languages can you say “another beer please” in? Well with Utalk you can add another 100 or more to that count!

You can download uTalk Go for Android or iOS by clicking right here.

2. Maps.Me

Back in the day travellers would set off with paper maps, compasses and big chunky guidebooks that would eventually get ripped, torn or lost. Now we basically head off in the hope we will find WiFi when we get inevitably lost.

Don’t get me wrong, getting lost in a new city or country can be fun, is good exercise and a sure-fire to discover some hidden treasure. But eventually, you are going to need to work out where the hell you are going.

Maps.Me, is an essential backpacking app especially for those who tend to wander off the tourist trail. Maps.Me allows you to download the map to an entire country in one go and zoom in and out to whatever scale you need. Maps.Me is one of my favorite of all the backpacker apps, Why? You don’t need data or wifi at all, it works offline!

Do yourself a favour and download Maps.Me for Android or iOS here.

3. Trip Planning with Tripuniq

Imagine if you knew a local in every single place in the world? Tripuniq is pretty much that person! Let them know when you will be in town, what your interests are if you’re travelling solo or not and watch them work their magic. You’re matched with a local hero who plans an itinerary around you. Once the daily itinerary has been delivered it can be downloaded and accessed offline.

A must have backpacking App to help you get off the tourist trail and fully explore a place like a local (almost)! You just don’t get this level of detail not, to mention the personal touch, from even the very best guidebooks!

Tripuniq is a brand spanking new little app whereby you are matched with a local hero who plans your own bespoke itinerary for a city break. The app (although TripUniq does also work through their website) asks for basic information such as when you will be in town, who you are travelling with and what your interests are and your local hero plans an itinerary around you. Once the daily itinerary has been delivered it can be downloaded and accessed offline.

What we love about this is the depth of up to date knowledge you get from the local heroes, for example, if you say you like live music then they will be checking gig listings for when you’re in town. –

4. Accommodation Apps

We’ve all been there, taken a last-minute detour in the height of the busy season and after ringing every hostel in town, we have nowhere to stay.

Couchsurfing has saved me on more than one occasion and not only given me a couch (or floor) to crash on but some awesome new friends! Couchsurfing is an awesome backpacking app, all you have to do is sign up, create a profile and find a couch near you!

However, recent years have seen a huge decline in Couchsurfing as the quality of its members has dropped massively. There have been many cases of travelers abusing hosts hospitality, some hosts using it as hook up app and I guess in many ways the sheer novelty has worn of. The app is, however, still alive and well in lesser-explored cities and countries.

Air B n B offers slightly more privacy than a floor or couch… You can choose whether to rent someones entire apartment or just their spare room. Weirdly, it’s often even cheaper than staying in a hostel especially if you are in big groups or if you plan to hang around for a week or so. Air B n b is like a temporary home away from home where you can actually unpack that backpack and get comfortable! Even if you do pay more for the apartment, you may then recover some of that brass by being able to cook your own food and feeling less inclined to go out and drink beer.

5. Uber & Taxi Apps

best travel apps
Was this the first ever travel app?!

We’ve all been there, it’s pouring with rain and today is the day that taxies are impossible to find (yep, New York I’m talking to you). The horror stories of Latin America’s express kidnappings are making us second guess the taxi drivers trust. And to be honest, we just want to get from A to B without a tour of the town. Well, thank god for Uber and co!

Uber takes all of this pain away, you tell the app where you are, where you want to go and when and it dispatched a taxi for you. The taxies are efficient, the fare is fixed (and you pay through the app) and the drivers are vetted.

Whilst Uber is by far the best-known Taxi app, there are quite a few rivals popping up. You will find that many areas are not yet services by Uber but usually, there is a local equivalent available. There are too many across the world to list them all so I will direct you towards Reddit where you can post a query.

Check in advance whether your destination is serviced by Uber, an alternative or nobody at all.

Meanwhile, you can download Uber for Android or iOS here.

6. XE Currency

Backpacking Lebanon
Lebanese cash

25 Pesos? Is that a lot is that a little? Wherever you are in the world you need to know what you are paying, right? Exchange rates can be intimidating for those of us too drug-addled to perform mental arithmetic and furthermore, they fluctuate wildly these days in the temperamental trade winds of world markets.

XE Currency takes all the pain out of this, you simply put the amount in (either your native or the local currency) and it converts it for you. Let’s say for example you are looking at Kathmandu room rates and you need to know what 100Rupees works out at? Put the figure into XE Currency and bang, it tells you the pound, dollar or euro equivalent.

7. Triposo!

Triposo is working to make travel guidebooks one less thing for us backpackers to carry! It’s a smart backpacking app collating information from a massive number of open content web sources; such as Wikipedia. They use clever algorithms to peruse the web, crunching through millions of websites and reviews to provide you with an up-to-date guidebook experience at your fingertips. You can download city maps and guides to top destinations and attractions before you go and view them offline when you arrive. It’s like having a personal travel guide inside your smartphone!

Not only does it act as a booking engine it also makes smart suggestions for you! How do you spend that free afternoon before your flight? Triposo will offer you a suggestion and even goes as far as to check the freaking weather for you in order to assess whether that walk in the park really is a good idea today!

Triposo is one our favorites as it is not only making travel easier but is making travel better!

8. Wolfram

I’m one-quarter Irish.  This means that I can get two passports, I can handle my beer but it also means I cannot handle the sun too well. Throughout my time on the road, I have been sunburned more times than I care to imagine and have spent a small fortune on after sun lotions. Sunburn is, of course, irritating and unsightly but there are also more serious health consequences that long-term backpackers in hotter climes need to be mindful of.

What Wolfram does is advise you when the sun will be at its peak and tells you how long you should spend in it and how much and what factor of lotion to apply. Basically, it’s like having your old Mom out on the road with you to take care of you. If you have ever experienced proper sunburn, you will appreciate how awful it is and therefore how wonderful this app is.

9. A VPN for Security

When hitting the road the last thing any of us want to deal with is losing or having our shit stolen. So we take out travel insurance to help with that. But how many times do you connect to public or semi-private wifi, log onto your bank, enter credit card details and passwords without a second thought? Potentially, anyone is watching you do this and can grab your unencrypted data – simply put, kiss goodbye to your passwords, credit card numbers and usernames.

A VPN will protect you from this. Basically, it’s a private network that only you have access to ensuring no risk of theft or data breach. Hide Me is one of the fastest and most reliable options out there. Not only will it protect you online it will also give you cheeky access to sites that may normally be blocked in that country!

But what do you do when you’ve had a heavy night bar crawling the streets of Bangkok and in one, left your phone behind? Have a small meltdown, that’s what. Find My Phone postpones the lost phone meltdown and pinpoints exactly where your phone is. Calling every backpacker to download this app onto your phone and if the time comes you need to track it down, hop online and enter your details. It will literally pinpoint where your phone is.

10. Cheap Call Apps

best travel apps, backpacking apps
Stay in touch

Once you’ve been on the road for a while (like me) the excuse of ‘oh I’m traveling’ does not work when you don’t call your mum on her birthday. So many apps are introducing calling options now, it’s getting harder to find excuses why you forgot to call.

Skype is my go-to for cheap calls, video, and texts. You can use it with data, wifi and even ‘top it up’ allowing you to make calls offline and at local rates! It’s saved me so much money, especially when needing to call my bank hotline to reactivate my cards while abroad!

11. Airline Apps

Most airlines these days now have apps which you can use to download your boarding card to. They also issue updates about the flight such as delays. Typically speaking I install and then delete these kinds of apps as and when I need them.

12. Local Apps

There are some apps which are specific to one country, region or city. For example, if you are headed to Scandinavia, there are apps that tell you when the Northern Lights are making an experience.

In Israel, the rather serious Iron Dome app sounds an alarm each time a rocket is fired from Gaza giving you a few seconds to take cover.

Well, guys, we hope that thanks to these cool, cutting-edge backpacker apps you’ll now be able to have more, easier, safer and above all better adventures than ever before!

Did I miss any?

Are there any travel apps that you never leave home without which I have missed? Well leave a comment in the box and I will check it out!

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