2021 looks as though it’s shaping up to be the year where life slowly gets back to normal. Depending on where you call home, it may be time to start dusting off the old travel gear and plan your next break, whether that be local or abroad.
If you like to travel old school style with written guides, maps, and a compass, we applaud you. But if, like most of us, you like to utilize technology for almost every aspect of your life, including travel, then read on weary travelers for a comprehensive list of essential apps to use when traveling.
Have you ever heard of the fantastic file extension known as a .GPX file? You’ll find these helpful little files on websites such as Mud and Routes and much smaller little independent websites from passionate ramblers and hikers. Just Google “<your local area> gpx files” and you are bound to find some lovingly curated routes on trails that may have passed you by. A gpx file is essentially a memory of a route somebody has taken that they want to share with the world.
Gaia GPS is quite simply a way to view said routes on wonderfully detailed OS maps. The app is jam-packed with nifty features that will help you on your epic quest of A to B, wherever that may be.
For example, if you open up your GPX file of choice and select “Driving Directions,” the app will then minimize, and Google Maps will open with an automatically plotted route to the appropriate place to park.
When using the app whilst walking, your phone will utilize its GPS and you can rotate your device like a compass to make sure you are always heading in the right direction. Purists will despise this app as it takes all the skill out of navigation but who cares when it gives you the freedom to focus all of your attention on the trail itself.
Have you got one of those scratch maps of the world in your house? They were all the rage a few years back and are still on sale all over the internet.
It’s a wonderful concept to be able to see your life’s adventures plotted out on a map. With this app you can evidence your jet-setting in the digital realm. The app is extremely basic, it simply allows you to list the countries you have been to and add new ones once you have visited them. You can then see on a map where you have been, your first thought will probably be that you’re not quite the experienced traveler you thought you were and the world is actually a gargantuan place.
It tells you the percentage of the world you have covered and its individual continents. And of course, it provides you with the ability to share your achievements on the social media application of your choice.
Now, this is the game-changer that a lot of backpackers, daytrippers, gap yearers, and holidaymakers have been sleeping on. Quite possibly the most helpful travel app on earth that despite its simplistic text-based nature, could actually save your life.
Experienced travelers will know that phone signal is not guaranteed in certain parts of the world. You can’t Google your way out of every sketchy experience. Wikivoyage is a Godsend in such locations as it is essentially a complete offline webrip of Wikitravel.
Basically, that means it offers the entire contents of the world’s best online travel compendium while you are offline! It’s like carrying a bookshop’s worth of Lonely Planets and Rough Guides in your pocket for free. You can update it whenever you have signal if you are obsessed with having the latest up-to-date information. But, frankly this app could do you proud for years inside a phone that doesn’t even have a sim card.
Wikitravel pages offer detailed information about countries, towns, villages and any other human way of quantifying geographical areas. Its pages will offer insightful information from people that have actually visited such places. Almost every page will tell you what to eat, where to sleep, how to get there and most importantly how to stay safe.
If you are going to get one travel app for your next adventure this is the best one out there.
OK, so this one is a bit of a cheat, it’s technically not a travel app but it is definitely an app that you could use a heck of a lot whilst traveling. This one is for the fitness fanatics and hiking aficionados.
If you haven’t got an Ironman addicted friend that has already told you all about it, here’s Strava in a nutshell. This popular app offers you two feeds, one of your friends (the app will curate your friends from social media if you give it permission) and one of you. In these feeds, you can view physical activities that people have accomplished, the routes they took, and the time they completed them alongside other statistics.
The majority of Strava records are running or cycling but feel free to mix it up, the list of available sports is staggering. From inline skating to snowshoeing, there’s plenty of ways to track your movements.
Strava is bound to motivate you as it will let you know when you have broken personal records and you will hopefully receive comments and likes from your friends.
Yes, this app is a surefire way to get a little dopamine kick whilst reminiscing about yesterday’s personal best. Just be aware of becoming “Strava Proud”, always exercise for your own wellbeing and fitness, not for validation from strangers and friends.
So there are four eclectic apps that showcase what an Android phone can do for you when you’re on the road. But this list doesn’t even scratch the surface of what’s out there, and it’s always changing. From apps that can save you money on flights to translation tools, there really is an app for anything you can imagine nowadays. Please feel free to comment below if there are any essential apps that we’ve missed out.