There are thousands of “useful” apps available, whether it be travel related or not. When I travel, yes I use Tripadvisor every now and then, but I can go without it. The apps below are THE ESSENTIAL apps I use on a daily basis, or more like I can’t travel without them. Recommended especially for long term travelers.
Note that I usually travel with a PC. If not, I probably would have more apps I need.
Finance is not my favorite subject, but in reality, I don’t have all the money in the world and I HAVE TO keep track of how much I spend.
1. Trail Wallet
(Free for the first 25 entries. Only available on iOS.)
This is THE APP for keeping track of your spends. It is created by Simon & Erin from Never Ending Voyage, one of my favorite travel blogs. They are digital nomads themselves, hence cover the needs of real travelers.
You choose the currency you want to keep track in (JPY in my case), as well as up to 5 trip currencies (local currencies) that you actually spend money in. The app will automatically convert the amount you input into your tracking currency. For example, I did a trip to Singapore (SGD) and Indonesia (IDR) last year. I would enter the amount I spent for lunch in IDR or SGD, and enter the amount I’ve prepaid online for accommodation in JPY. They would be converted and shown all in JPY for easy tracking.
A small but fantastic feature is the option to spread out an expense over multiple days. When I make a 5 day hotel booking, I don’t have to open a calculator, divide the total price by 5, and then enter the per night amount into the app for 5 separate days. I can simply enter the total amount and adjust the number of days to spread to 5.
Another unique feature is you can add either a daily budget or a trip budget, and the app will tell you if you are on track or not. There are characters that will have comments on how you are doing. (Although I have to mention it can get annoying sometimes!)
I usually don’t pay for apps but this is one of the very few I paid for, and quite happy I did.
2. Clear Currency
(free, with chargeable options. Only available on iOS.)
Currency converter apps come in handy when you need a quick check on how much something is in your own currency. It’s especially helpful when you start traveling in a new country. I’ve tried a few out of the many currency converter apps offered, and this one is my absolute favorite. My requirements are: shows multiple currencies at once, and has a basic in-app calculator function. This one fulfills both and has the simplest, cleanest interface. In addition, it comes with a chart for rates, all for free!
I like to wander around and get lost but I also love offline maps. GPS will tell you where you are without having to use wifi or international roaming. It’s always nice to have a back up when you are really lost and really need to get back! Also there is no need to continuously bug the local bus driver to have them tell you where you need to get off. Below are 2 apps that are useful in different ways.
(free with chargeable options.)
- VERY DETAILED. Indicates many landmarks such as stations, bus stops, hotels, restaurants, and shops. Very helpful when walking around town, trying to find a certain place or when you want to find the closest station near you.
- Usually downloadable by city or region, which helps save space on phone, rather than having to download the whole country.
- Not suitable for viewing a large area such as the whole country or the whole southeast Asia region. For example, you will not be able to check the whole country of Thailand, even though you download all the regional maps of Thailand. They are only viewable one at a time. This is where maps.me comes in handy.
- Routing is searchable, while offline. How awesome is that?
- Download by country (with a few exceptions such as Japan and USA, where it is downloadable by region), as if you are filling in a blank world map. This is quite helpful for planning, or when riding a long distance bus or train. When I took the overnight train from Chiang Mai to Don Mueng airport (the station before Bangkok), I could tell exactly where I was and when I needed to get off.
- Not so many landmarks available. This is why I use Citymaps2go for town walking.
This is not exactly a travel app… but I like to read and I want to travel light. I love the texture of paper books and it’s nicer when on a beach or a pool, but I don’t to add extra weight!
OK, nothing special. If you like reading, I’m sure you already have this one. I read in both English and Japanese, and considering the number of books offered, this is my only option for reading on my phone. Buy books anywhere when you have wifi, and read anywhere: on a beach, on the train, or even in a jungle. Simple, useful and light!
Apart from my essential 5 apps above, I do keep a bunch of travel related apps on my phone. It’s nice to have them when you want to do a quick research or a quick check on your booking while having coffee in a cafe. If I don’t travel with my PC, some of them would become essential.
- Flight booking apps: Skyscanner, On the Fly, Kayak (actually I’ve never used it), a bunch of airline apps
- Accommodation apps: Airbnb, Booking.com, Agoda, Hotels.com, Hostels.com
- Others: Tripadvisor, Priority Pass, Compass, Converter (because I don’t understand inches or pounds)
What are your favorite apps for travel?