These days it is not just students with a gap year to fill who can take off and explore the world. Modern travel and communications have made it a real possibility for people of every age and background. With enough money to get by and a spirit of adventure, the world can be your playground. Don’t go without your smartphone—the apps you can put on it will help in all sorts of situations.
You won’t get far without a good map. Google maps used to be sneered at, but it gets better with each generation, and now it is much easier to download the section you need to use offline.
Maps.me is one of the apps that use OpenStreetMap data, and has a couple of advantages over Google maps: its house numbering is often more accurate and it makes better use of footpaths, so it suits walkers better.
There is a lot to be said for taking pot-luck when finding somewhere to sleep or eat, but if you need somewhere reliable quickly, don’t scorn the review sites. Tripadvisor may be open to manipulation on a small scale, but when there are thousands of reviews the average score works out fairly well.
For a different angle, you could try Trip.com, where reviews are organized according to “tribes.” Find your tribe to narrow down the range.
Foursquare City Guides are a very popular way to seek out hidden gems and share them with like-minded travelers.
There are many journey planning apps available. In Europe, you may find Go Euro is a good way to plan the most economical way of traveling from A to B.
When planning flights, Skyscanner has a range of ways to tailor your trip and to find the best deals. A neat function is to find the destination with the cheapest flight available from your location—a great way to be spontaneous.
You may choose your destination based on where the best weather is. You don’t need to look far to find a good weather app that will help you decide where to go next.
If you are in a country where you don’t speak the language, a translator app will be a handy extra on your phone. Google translator is probably the most developed, but with Duolingo you can learn some basics at the same time.
Different countries use different systems of weights and measures. A conversion app can make short work of distances, fuel quantities, shoe sizes, and currency.
Make sure your emergency contacts are easily available. Travelsafe provides offline contact numbers like emergency services and embassies, as well as a panic button widget.
Enjoy the World
Today’s world is an exciting place to experience life in a host of different ways. Sometimes it pays to just go somewhere and see how you get on, but more often than not the apps on your phone can help you to get the best out of your travels.