Now that I’m wrapping up my year of travel, I wanted to share a few of the travel apps and tools that I’ve found helpful. It’s crazy to me that even in the last few years, the travel apps that are out there have changed drastically. Some travelers will lament the “good old days” when they had to rely on guidebooks and payphones to navigate foreign countries. Despite the romantic idea of spreading out a paper map, I try to embrace the new technology that’s out there to give me more time exploring than trying to haggle taxi fares.
1. The Skimm
When I’m traveling, I still like to keep a pulse on what’s going on back in States. Not only does it help me feel connected still, but often times I’ll get into a discussion with other backpackers about current events. You never want to be in a situation where the German backpacker knows more about your politics than you do! The Skimm is a daily email that summarizes the news in the same way a friend talking to you would. It’s sassy, uses a ton of puns, and keeps things direct. For topics that are hard to understand, they publish guides to break down tough concepts. If you’re interested, Subscribe here.
I can hardly remember what it was like backpacking without this app. It’s essentially the Uber of Southeast Asia (based out of Singapore), and is a ride hailing service. Just like Uber, you pin point your current location and the location you’d like to go to, and the service matches you with a verified driver. Sometimes you pay directly through the app and other times you pay the fixed rate in cash at the end depending on your settings. I love it because it gives me peace of mind that my driver has been verified through the app, and I don’t have to negotiate prices with dodgy taxi drivers.
This is an offline map service that allows you to download an entire city or region to your phone. Once downloaded, you can access the map anywhere without data or wifi. It’s pretty sophisticated and allows you to search for local businesses and uses GPS to pin point your exact location. I love it because many times my data hasn’t been working, or I didn’t bother getting a SIM card for the country I’m traveling in. I think it’s good for safety reasons too just in case I ever ended up lost.
Like I said, these could all change in a few years as travel technology and travel apps are constantly changing. Hopefully these also help you stay safe and informed!