5 kinds of Apps you must have while traveling

A smartphone is no more a luxury. Though not a necessity yet, it makes our life much easier and saves us a lot of time. There are plenty of travel apps in the app store these days. But, most of them are not very useful. Of course, they have fancy names and interesting themes but either they have fewer users or they do not meet the needs of a backpacker. Out of that heap of apps that exist, here are a few of them that I have been using regularly and I can suggest you the same. Since the apps are repeating, I have chosen to structure this post based on the types of apps you will need while you are traveling. So, here we go!

1. Apps to Book an accommodation 

Most often, solo backpackers do not book accommodation. We tend to go directly to the place of interest and look for a cheap accommodation. I have done that in Sri Lanka and it can be tedious at times. Also, during weekends the places can get crowded and may require booking. My only reference back then was a lonely planet guide that referred a few hostels. But, hunting for a hostel can be easier with an App. It will save you a lot of time. You can search and short list the locations on the app and then book it or go there directly and find a favorable price. Of all the apps I use, I am most comfortable with Hostleworld. It lists all the hostels in the area with the dorm beds/ private rooms available. It is undoubtedly my favorite app to book or scout for a hostel. 

For private rooms in hotels, you could choose Agoda or Airbnb. Agoda is more popular in Southeast Asia. 

There is also another interesting alternate option. If you want to stay with locals for free, then try the Couchsurfing. As a traveler, you must have heard of this website/app. If not, please check it out right away. The surfers who have stayed with the hosts, leave a feedback to help the future surfers choose the host. Make sure to read the references before you plan to stay with a host. 


2.  Apps to Navigate

Whether you are driving or walking around a town, you will need to find your way in the new place you are in. These days, you do not have to ask around. Be independent and get going with the help of Google Maps. I have experimented with several other apps but trust me, Google maps is the easiest to use. There is no need to download several apps to navigate in a town or city. Walking routes show quick access to your destination. Make a custom walking map to your favourite attractions in town and follow it. I can list a few others, but when Google maps is default app on your phone, it is pointless to list others here.  

3. Apps to Communicate 

When you are in a country where people do not speak the language you speak, then you will obviously need a translator. I have two options for you. Google translate may not be the best translating tool but it is easy to use and has more languages than other apps. I have used it to translate and played the audio to the people I am speaking to and it has worked great. But the key to success is constructing simple sentences in English to be translated in the desired language. Because, if you write complicated sentences in English, chances are that the meaning is lost in translation. So, break your thought down to basic, simple sentences. 

But if you want a slightly better app that goes beyond machine translation, then go for Reverso. It is the best app for translation. Fo someone who knows the target language a bit , this app is gold. But it has limited language options. 

4. Apps to socialize

Though you are traveling alone and prefer so, there are times when you would like to meet likeminded people or travellers like you and perhaps explore the town together. The best app, I have found to be for this is Couchsurfing. The ‘hangouts’ option in the Couchsurfing app is great for travellers to meet others and plan to explore a given city or just hangout together. You can post your intentions and wait for people to contact you. Couchsurfing also lists the meets or events in the area which you can choose to be part of. 

You can also try Meetup app to join a planned event. 

5. Apps to find things near you

There are plenty of apps that are focused on attractions and restaurants in a given city. But I have found it difficult to use multiple apps. The best therefore is Google maps. Just type “Attractions near me” or “Restaurants near me” or “Vegan food near me” and you will have an exhaustive list to pick from. There is also “Around me” a less popular app that can list cafes and restaurants near you. 

Well, these are the important apps that I make good use of while traveling solo. Is there any other kind of app that is absolutely necessary to have while traveling? Let me know in the comments section. 



  1. Good compilation, Ajeya.

    I have found that Google Maps is a good app not just for navigation but also to find out interesting places. Only problem is that since it's largely user-generated data, there is a slender chance of misinformation.

    For example, there is a temple in Domlur which I had navigated to successfully using the maps six months ago. Last week, when marked the same temple as the destination, I was navigated to a different place, and realised that there is some issue. I had ask people nearby to get to the temple.

    Then, I realised that the temple has disppeared from that location, and it's marked at a location two kilometers away!

    I am trying to get it corrected.

    1. Hello Pradeep. That is true. I have had my share of issues with wrong directions, as the pinned area isn't in the exact location. For now, we are relying so much on Google maps. I hope to find a better way of directing people to a location, rather than using elaborate text with directions.


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