A big part of traveling these days is your digital presence. But besides the social obligations, we also use our phones and laptops for bookings, city guides, and other travel related stuff.
Although, you might not always have wifi on the road, plus it’s better to unplug – some apps should be part of your travel essentials. Travelling with your smartphone is expensive if you use your data plan. With a little preparation & planning, you can easily skip the high fees and enjoy your phone without any stress. Make sure you download all apps before departure (preferably on wifi) and turn your data roaming.
I traveled the world… without a phone
While traveling the world on my recent world trip, my iPhone got stolen. That meant: no phone… and I still don’t have one. That is something for a digital nomad. Plus, I was traveling alone… how did I survive? I managed to buy an iPod Touch in Australia because I can use it around the globe, it has Facetime & iMessage and I can download most iOs apps. If I bought an Australian iPhone, I couldn’t use it in Europe, which would make the phone practically useless for me because then I could use it during my stay in Australia. I desperately needed some apps though, so I went for the cheaper iPod option, and now, a few months later I still rock that thing. I wanna share my favorite apps with you, the ones I used during my world trip. Most apps are both for iOs and Android and free!
The must-have app to book your hostels and hotels. I got some really good deals the longer I used the app because I became a genius member (some sort of *VIP* membership you receive after about 5 or 10 bookings. That’s pretty soon if you travel the world and move places every two, three days. Often I booked the same day for the best deal (only if the country allowed me to, don’t do it in crowded backpacker places like Australia, because everything reasonable prices will be sold out!). Although I spoke a lot of hostel owners and they weren’t too happy about booking.com, because I think they pay the fees, instead of the traveler. Another option is to have a look at the booking.com price, and go to the hotel or hostel directly and ask for the online price. I did this in Bali and worked fine. Support the local hostel and small hotel owners!
When you travel in countries like Australia and USA (like I did!) it’s almost impossible to do everything by train or bus. You probably have to take a lot of domestic flights (sorry environment!), and Skyscanner is in my option the best app to check prices. You can check prices for example for the whole month, and see which dates are the cheapest. This way I flew a lot cheaper than I’d normally had and it gives you a great idea of which dates and days are the cheapest options.
3. Trip Wallet
I needed to write down every penny I spent, in order to maintain my travel budget per country. So the first week I wrote everything down (on paper yeah), but soon I forgot things. Plus calculating every week was a lot of work… duh. Of course, there is an app for that! I used Trip Wallet, because they have a great visual aspect (like a graph) and a daily budget (plus, the more I overspent, the lower my daily budget became, oops, damn you $27 drinks in Australia!).
I never really used Skype until I didn’t have a phone anymore. Of course, I could Facetime and stuff with everybody in my life with an iPhone, but I didn’t know until somebody told me – that you can actually call to phones with Skype. Okay, okay, I did know that but never thought of it. So, I bought some credit and could happily call the police if that was necessary. Oh and probably not so happily. But it’s also great to chat with Android users (I couldn’t download Whatsapp) and you can also use wifi with your credits. At least… that’s what they say – it never works with me.
Stay at people, in a nice environment, make new friends, blabla. We all know Airbnb. It’s one of the greatest discoveries for house owners (because they make a lot of mon-ey!) and travelers. Believe me, the app especially comes in handy when you can’t find the apartment and want to send the owner a quick message…
Where to go, where to eat, what are the main attractions and how did other people like it? When I was travelling I wanted to know quickly; what are the main touristy things I need to see, and preferably in the order of ‘importance’? Well. This is where TripAdvisor comes in handy. Search your city, village or whatever and have a look at the top attractions. I’ve never seen more touristy things thanks to TripAdvisor (Hey, when you’re in Sydney you have to see the Opera house right?).
Another hidden gem is Pinterest. I basically created a ‘personalized’ itinerary’ by searching for photos and stuff on Pinterest. What did look good? Where should I take photos off? Pinterest, love you. Also great for killing time while waiting and staying positive (flights get delayed a lot).
Yeah, okay, so I didn’t have a phone, and iPod Touch doesn’t make awesome pictures. But, I do like the Instagram map function a lot. Unfortunately, you can’t search maps yet (YET?? Hope so), but it’s great to remember where you’ve been, so I tried to take as much snaps as possible. Oh and also for friends, so you don’t have to email/call/text every single one of them once you’ve arrived in (fill in the blank).
Steller App, I don’t know if you know it, and I’m not sure why it’s not more popular. It’s a great way to create visual stories! I made a story about my hiking experience in Tasmania (Australia). I haven’t figured out yet how to embed that story on my blog, but I will once I post all the photos!
Finally one ‘boring as hell’ app, but it’s super important to know your finances. This app shows your currency and the foreign one. But the best thing about it is the nice design and the offline function. Who has wifi abroad anyways? So Kurrency is here to rescue, when you’re trying to haggle a good price in Asia, just typ the amount in and you know how much they really ask (sneaky bastards!). The app especially comes in handy when you’ve just arrived in a country, when you’re not familiar with the currency yet. I didn’t had the app when I arrived in Bali, and got almost scammed by the taxi driver, so prepare and avoid a massive fight (ohh, good ol’ taxi drivers, got some stories about them wooah..).