My Travel Apps
Why I use apps to navigate my travels…
As a female traveler out on my own in the great big world, I faced challenges on where to begin. When I left the homeland, I parted ways by disappearing without cell phone service. Majority of my travels consisted on possibly finding wifi to connect on social media or to navigate my travels with these travel apps.
Prior to travel, I read a lot of google searches, travel guides, and blog post; I followed several travel instagrammers, and listened to so much travel advice from seasoned nomads before me. I decided on these apps because of my biggest needs or concerns whilst away without cell phone service.
Some of these concerns were where to go next, my accommodation, how to safely transport and navigate myself from place to place, access to communication with friends or family, how I was going to stay on budget by knowing the local currencies, and how to find the most affordable airline tickets.
Why I traveled without cell phone service…
When I started traveling, the traveling boom skyrocketed amongst the backpacker community. Technology was advancing through each year, the need for wifi was inevitable in majority of the world, and new resources on how to make travel easier for the inexperienced backpacker were being born each day.
At the time, I relied heavily on social media and I knew I wanted to document my travels, my experiences, and memories along the way. Before I left, I realized that if I spent majority of my time away with instant access to my social media accounts, text messages, or phone calls I would hinder myself from truly experiencing the wonders of every city I went to. To take each new memory good or bad for granted. That I’d forget shared memories with strangers who would become friends for a long long time.
I was training myself to not look into my screen and realize that in today’s world, cell phone service wasn’t needed anymore; But to also look at the very moment that was before me. I decided that even though I documented what I’ve seen, I would have to make time to find a wifi connection (which you can find in about every country) to do some work after I enjoyed each second of everyday to the fullest capacity. With these apps, I could rely on wifi, or navigate in a way where wifi was not needed.
Hostelworld: This app allows backpackers to find affordable accommodation for budget, group, and solo travelers. Offers single or communal rooms.
Why I use:
- I wanted to prolong my time away and found that using Hostelworld would allow me to stay within my budget.
- As a solo traveler, I wanted to find ways to connect with other people within the nomad community.
- Hostels gave me all the tools and resources I needed in order to fully experience what each place had to offer.
- The hostel support engaged fellow nomads together by organizing group tours, events, or social gatherings.
- Hostels are everywhere, this app allowed me to easily find and book accommodations last minute.
- Allows easy communication to your accommodation for questions, transportation, and assistance.
Airbnb: An app to find affordable short or long term accommodation from people who are offering their homes or rooms to travelers. Offers single rooms or entire spaces. (Houses, condos, apartments, cabins, etc.)
Why I use:
- You can easily book accommodation last minute with this app.
- If you want space from communal hostel living, this app allows you to book entire homes.
- Best for group traveling.
- Easy access to communication with host.
- Great for the spontaneous, sometimes I’ll book an entire home without looking at the location, it always surprises me.
- Allows you to book accommodation long term at an affordable rate.
- Some allow different types of amenities, pools, gyms, etc.
- Full functioning kitchen.
There are several ways to book accommodation aside from these two apps. I personally use these two apps religiously when I travel. I’ve always been satisfied with their services and have never had any problems.
If these are apps you don’t particularly want to use, I’ve also booked accommodation through several different types of travel websites. Some of these include travelocity, expedia, kayak, etc. or I book directly with hotels if that is the route you want to take. Either way, book accommodation that is right for your traveling style.
There are several ways to book flights; through travel agencies or websites and directly booking through the airlines. This all depends on your budget and comfort needs. Majority of my traveling is on budget and I don’t mind long airport wait times, lay overs, the worse seats on the plane, and allow myself to have all the flexibility I need.
However, if you are gaining rewards or points by using a specific credit card or airline, it might be worth looking into booking through these services as it could benefit you on your trip. Aside from this, the one app I use the most to book my flights is through Skyscanner.
Skyscanner: A search engine for travel. They scan through all airlines, hotels, and car rental servers to present with you the best rate possible for your date of travel based on your wants and needs.
Why I use:
- The app is easy to navigate.
- Easy and quick bookings for flights, hotels, or car rentals.
- I feel they scan for the best possible rates on the market, compared to other travel search engines.
- They always offer the best deals for me.
Apps For Staying Connected
Whatsapp: A communication app where you can exchange voice messages or text messages between another user.
Why I use:
- Phone service isn’t needed, you can easily connect onto wifi to use this app.
- There are a lot of users world-wide, which makes for easy communication with international or “at home” contacts.
- Free international calls and texts.
- Can make voice and video calls.
- High privacy settings and security settings. Offers end-to-end encryption.
MobileVOIP: A loadable voice communications through the internet.
Why I use:
- Acts like a loaded phone card.
- You can make local calls based on your location to taxis, your accommodation, restaurants, tour guides, etc.
- Easily use with wifi.
Aside from these two apps, I also like to stay connected through my social media accounts. I can easily check up on friends I met during my travels and get in contact with family back home through Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram. As well as enjoying the benefits of iMessenger with my Apple iPhone. (Majority of my family and friends are Apple users.) Which, is why I knew I could go along and travel with only using wifi.
Before I talk about the apps I use, I want you all to know that I get lost. I get lost all the time. Somehow I end up in places I didn’t mean to go because I got lost in the adventure, in the curious imagination. Most people would walk around with a tourist map to navigate through the city and for some reason, I would not.
Compass: Acts as a digital compass on most iPhones based on your current location.
Why I use:
- I like to use this app because I like to go hiking, trekking, and camping in the wilderness.
- Easy to help me locate and identify my desired or current location.
Maps.me: A downloadable offline GPS map.
Why I use:
- Offline map
- It allows me to navigate through GPS without having cell service or wifi.
- Easily downloadable maps onto the app per general area you are currently in or traveling to.
- Consistently updated
Uber: An online transportation service.
Why I use:
- The app is easy to use.
- Drivers are verified and must navigate through app.
- Safer, best way to avoid scams.
- My method of payment is saved and secured.
*Though I must say, if I have access to secured local transportation, I also use taxis or tuktuks. As well as bicycle, moped, or car rentals. In some places I will also use bus, train/metro transport, or walk on foot. It just depends on what is accessible in the location you are in, as some destinations don’t use Uber.
These are some extra apps that I used when I travel. I find these apps useful for my own entertainment or to fill my curiosities about the local exchange rate. If you do download these apps, I find that you will somehow find a use for them as you continue your adventures.
Been: An app that helps you track what countries you have been to.
Why I use:
- Something fun and cute to use.
- It helps me keep track of where I have been by country or US state.
XE Currency: An app that is up to date on world wide currency rates.
Why I use:
- Helps me stick to budget by knowing local currency conversion rates.
- Allows me to avoid exchange scams or getting ripped off.
- It helps me know the most accurate rate to get more from my exchange.
Thank you for reading my beautiful WAAFers,
I hope you found these apps useful and helpful in navigating through your travels in an easier and convenient way. These apps have made my travel plans so much easier without adding on any extra stress.
xoxo, the girl.
*Also feel free to follow me on…
You guys have little adventure. I spent five random weeks in the UK without apps or even maps. I have an extreme sense of direction except when in Johannesburg. But I often read maps for leisure when traveling in my armchair. Even in Oz and in the South Pacific I never used maps and came upon great accommodation, sightseeing, edible entertainment and interesting locals. I used to find parking by conversing well beforehand, God’s Spirit is better at finding parking. The best GPS.
That’s amazing to have such a great sense of direction! I’m obsessed with maps.
I personally enjoy these apps and find them helpful because I myself, gets lost a lot. I could read a map, but I prefer to use my offline one since I travel alone majority of the time. As a female, I prefer to not stand out and look like a tourist as a precaution for my own safety.
I live in Cape Town but don’t wear Cape Town / Table Mountain / South Africa baseball caps. That defines one as a tourist to be robbed.