Whether you are heading off on a gap year, packing light for a couple of weeks summer break or getting stuck into the culture of a country for the foreseeable there is one thing we all have in common. The smartphone.
Here’s what you won’t find my phone without:
My love affair with Skyscanner is no secret and they have just relaunched their app with not only flights but car and hotel searches too. Working in the same way as the flight search it will scan all the big players and help you find the best value for your dates.
The new ‘Top Deals’ tab is also super handy for spontaneous trips away letting you see what is cheap when. Of course, the ‘search everywhere’ feature is still a winner for finding those bargain flights when you are up for exploring anywhere. The app also now features ‘Price alerts’ so you can track fares going up and down and 3rd party reviews so you know exactly what the companies you are booking your flight through are like.
Travello (previously Outbound) have made some major inroads in the travel world over the past year and have been named as one of the top apps by the Apple store. Think Tinder but for travellers, this awesome app lets you find other travellers with similar interest near you, search the noticeboard for your upcoming plans and arrange shares/swaps in advance and also has a nifty wifi finder.
If you want a new way to connect with other people on the road get this onto your smartphone.
3. Rome 2 Rio
I didn’t think getting a reliable bus timetable in Sri Lanka was possible until I fired up my trusty Rome2Rio app. Type an A, put in a B and get a whole list of overland/water/air routes for that journey. It will quote prices, distances, times, mileage as well as route numbers. No matter where you are in the world, Rome 2 Rio is likely to find the transport option to suit you.
4. Weather Bug
Whilst most smartphones come with basic weather apps these days Weather Bug takes it to a whole other level. Whether you suffer hayfever and want to know the pollen count or need to keep track of lighting and storm warnings it does it all.
With a whole host of different map options, 18-day forecasting and some nifty additional features, you should supercharge your phone with this weather app and then you will be prepared for anything.
5. Lonely Planet Guides
Lonely Planet can now be in your pocket. With a range of city guides, offline maps and popular tips from their guidebooks you don’t need to worry about piling your suitcase with heaps of heavy paperwork for a longer trip. Get great impartial travel tips and keep an eye out as it expands to include even more destinations.
I really started digging this app when I got into night photography but it’s a staple for anyone who has an obsession with nature. Simply point it at the sky and it will tell you what stars and constellations are in the viewfinder. If you want to start photographing the milky way this is a great one to get on your phone.
TripIt is a super handy piece of kit which will even auto scan your emails and compile all your travel plans into one place. If you are a frequent traveller or travel a lot for business this can become a super handy PA in your pocket. The free version is great for most average people planning a trip but if you are often on the road the business upgrade will make things much easier, compiling all of your plans into one place.
Whilst Google Maps still has its place on my phone, I was really surprised at how much more helpful Maps.Me can be in unusual destinations, whilst touring through Oman last week it actually came out trumps.
The maps are downloadable (as are Googles) so you can be offline and still use them anywhere but the killer thing is it is powered by OneStreetMap which is open source meaning everyone can update the details and add in new openings and finds which you might not find buried in the more traditional way that Google Maps displays local businesses.
9. Google Translate
Still the godsend of translating apps. Hold it over a menu and the camera will translate. It will speak to you. It will help you. It is just awesome.
10. XE Currency Exchange
XE is a great app to keep track of various currency in your pocket in real time, it also works offline so as long as you have updated your rates before visiting a country you do not need to connect to wifi to suss out if a good deal really is a good deal. They have also introduced a new premium feature which will alert you when a rate hits the target you have set which if you are changing a lot of dosh is well worth while.
HerePin is another new start-up app developed by a team in New Zealand with a genuine care for connecting travellers. It’s not spread worldwide just yet, but it offers a unique way to interact with fellow new friends on the road by showing you the ‘pins’ from your current location. Whether it’s insider local tips, sharing a car ride or just finding someone to grab a beer with, it’s certainly worth installing if you are taking a trip throughout Australia or New Zealand.