Gone are the days of map reading or asking a local for directions when they speak absolutely no English. There’s little need to walk around town for hours finding hostel availability in a small village in Indonesia and there’s certainly no need to use your maths skills to calculate how much 500 Baht converts to in Pounds (It’s roughly £11.37 by the way). Luckily for you and I, technology has made backpacking a million times easier, and there’s a whole bunch of apps that you can download to your smartphone to make sure that’s definitely the case!
Here’s a list of my personal favourites:
I know you’ve all probably heard of Uber, and you’re probably thinking that the majority of places you’ll travel to are unlikely to even have it. That’s where you’re wrong. Uber operates in around 60 different countries around the globe, and you’ll quickly discover that it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than local taxi companies. I saved a lot of money using Uber during my 5 weeks in Cape Town. I know it seems, that by using Uber, you’re restricting business to the local taxi drivers, that are trying to make a living for themselves, but like I said before, it’s usually a lot cheaper. Also, there’s been countless times that i’ve been ripped off by local taxi drivers, either overcharging you as soon as you land in their country, bumping the meter up, or changing their mind on a fare once you’ve reached your destination. At least with Uber, you know the cost of the fare, you know it’s safe, and it can definitely save you the time and effort of trying to find a taxi.
This app is an absolute lifesaver, but surprisingly not many people know about it. Luckily for you, I’ll let you in on the knowledge. Maps.me allows you to download areas of the world, usually regions or cities, which means you can easily navigate yourself around without using any data at all. You can set routes, find local attractions, as well as restaurants, bus stations and even accommodation. It’s essentially Google Maps, but it allows you to navigate the streets of a foreign country without using any of your data or requiring any internet. What’s not to like about that?
Now I know this app seems like an obvious one for those of you who are frequent travellers, but let’s face it, where else would you look for a decent hostel? It gives you honest ratings, allows you to compare prices and it gives you a list of the amenities of each and every hostel. I’ve also discovered that it offers you the best chance to meet like-minded travellers, whilst costing you half the price a hotel would. Also, for those of you who prefer your privacy, don’t rule out Hostelworld as it offers private rooms too!
XE Currency Converter
If you’re anything like me, and if trying to work out what the local currency converts to in Pounds goes straight over your head, then you’ll be silly not have XE Currency Converter downloaded. It makes knowing what you’ve spent a little less stressful than it already is. Rather than using your own mathematical skills to calculate how much you’ve spent in your home currency, this app works it all out for you. Live updates on exchange rates mean that you’ll always know exactly how much you’re spending, meaning that budgeting during your trips is a lot easier. It’s an app you’ll definitely need!
When you’ve been to a fair few countries it gets difficult to remember where you’ve been off the top of your head. Been acts like a digital scratch map that tracks which countries you’ve visited. It’s really handy if you want to keep a track on how many countries you’ve visited, as this usually becomes a topic of conversation among travellers in hostels and bars. So now when you’re sat in a bar on Khao San Road, and somebody asks where you’ve been backpacking…
It’s nice to know that technology has our backs, and there are apps available that can make your travelling experiences a lot less stressful. However, don’t forget to push technology aside every now and then, and experience this beautiful world!
Let me know what you think about travel and technology and leave some comments!