15 Best Free Travel Apps For Backpackers

Don’t be mistaken, this is not a list of 15 apps that will do everything for you in your travels. After all, travelling is about exposing yourself (not your phone) to the adventures that await. Nor is this a list of apps for luxurious travelers. This list is specifically for backpackers and those travelling on a budget, and is designed to help you save money, be safer and make things just that little bit easier.

Furthermore, writing this list and including extremely well-known travel apps such as TripAdvisor isn’t exactly groundbreaking reading material. So here are five essential travel apps you should download before we delve into the top 15 list: TripAdvisor, SkyScanner, Kayak, Yelp, & Skype.

 

Before You Go:

Hopper

Deciding on the best date to fly and when to purchase flights can be both time consuming and stressful, which is why this little hopping bunny is here to help.  Hopper ‘analyses billions of flight prices daily to predict how prices will change promising to save up to 40% on your flights’.  Once you punch in your destination and rough dates, hopper tells you if it’s a good deal or not, and gives you price predictions up until your departure date.  By selecting watch this trip, you receive notifications the instant the price drops and before it’s about to rise.

The Good: Great design & money saving capabilities

The Bad: Inaccuracies (although infrequent) can lead to losing out on cheap fares.

Available on: IOS and Android

 

Packpoint

If you are like me, most of you bag packing happens within 24 hours of stepping on that first flight.  Luckily, Packpoint provides us last-minute packers (or OCD packers, 4 weeks earlier) with a specifically tailored checklist depending on the destination, weather, duration and purpose of travel.  Activities such as hiking, running, photography and beach can also be selected, ensuring you never have to deal with that awkward 3-sizes-too-small bathers purchase from the Thai street markets before you have a dip.

The Good: Simple user-face and there is an option to go premium for $4.49, which has TripIt and Evernote integration.  

The Bad: Limited activity choices on free version. 

Available on: IOS and Android

 

Flight & Transportation:

Hipmunk

Like Kayak, Hipmunk is great for finding cheap flights and accommodation by searching through multiple travel sources.  The unique thing about this app though is the way flights and accommodation are categorised. Flights are sorted using an agony index (combination of flight time, stopovers and price), while accommodation is sorted by ecstasy (combination of price, amenities and reviews). Heatmaps also shows how close your accommodation is to food, tourism, shopping & nightlife.  Hipmunk is a much crisper and user-friendly app than kayak in my opinion.

The Good: Unique features like heatmaps, agony and ecstasy.  

The Bad: Does not allow searching flights on adjacent days or nearby airports and only available on IOS.  

Available on: IOS

 

Rome2Rio

Simply put, this app shows you all the ways of getting from point A to point B anywhere in the world.  Whether it is a city, landmark or a specific address, Rome2Rio will tell you what transport mode you can take (road, rail, air or sea), how much it will cost and how long it will take. 

The Good: Lets you organise your transport based on travel time and price.

The Bad: Not available on Android.

Available on: IOS

 

Hitlist

This visually stunning app will have you wanting to jump on the next flight to your dream getaway within minutes of use. It gives you all the best flight deals from your own searched destinations, but also gives a plentiful list of suggested themed holidays from Adrenaline Junkie to ‘Iconic Hotel Bars Across America’.  The app also shows you how many of your friends have either lived in or traveled to a particular city, which is extremely handy when seeking trusted travel advice or a place to crash.  It is astonishing that more people have not heard of or downloaded this app. 

 

The Good: Beautiful interface, combines flight and trip exploration with friends and gives you plenty of travel ideas.

The Bad: Can’t purchase flights in app (transferred to Skyscanner).

Available on: IOS & Android

 

Airhelp

Have you ever wondered if you are entitled to more than just an airport food voucher when your plane is delayed, cancelled or overbooked? 98% of passengers entitled to a refund never actually follow up on getting their money back. In five simple steps, airhelp can get you up to 600 Euros or $1.300 US in compensation.  If the case is successful, they take a 25% fee, if it’s unsuccessful, they charge zero.

The Good: Simple to claim and airhelp process all the paperwork for you.

The Bad: Only available for flights departing and arriving in Europe and USA. 

Available on: IOS & Android

 

Accommodation:

Hostelworld

This is one of the most well-known, well-trusted hostel booking companies for a reason.  The app provides the most comprehensive list of hostels (33,000 worldwide), almost every choice of currency, map view, sorting by price or rating, facilities lists, ratings of individual scales (security is an important one) and the all-important user reviews. Hostelworld takes no commission on bookings and allows you to cancel a booking and reuse your deposit anywhere else within 6 months for an extra $1 per guest. Check other apps like Hostelbookers and Agoda for comparisons when booking hostels, but Hostelworld should have you covered 99% of the time.

The Good: Easy to use, trusted reviews

The Bad: Can’t search for hostels near your GPS location. 

Available on: IOS & Android

 

Maps & Guides:

Maps.me

When it comes to offline maps, maps.me takes the orienteering cake. It’s fast, accurate and shows any significant places of interest in the area. The app also allows you to bookmark any places of interest, so you can find that tiny little pho café down that side alley that you saw that one time when you were walking to buy the thing.  Upgrade for a few dollars to get city tour guides.

The Good: Fast and accurate, high detail for lesser-travelled destinations.

The Bad: None.

Available on: IOS & Android

 

Roadtrippers

Enter your starting location, final destination, dates of travel and your interests, and roadtrippers will plot the perfect route for you.  The app can find off beaten attractions, restaurants, museums, amusement parks, campsites and more.  When you add something to your trip, roadtrippers will automatically redraw your route.  Perfect for that summer southern USA road trip.

The Good: Integrated with trip advisor to give you trustworthy reviews of places to visit

The Bad: Doesn't work well in all countries.

Available on: IOS & Android

 

Townske

Townske is a Sydney start-up that aims to take travellers off the beaten path and ‘feel like a local in any city in the world’.  The app provides over 3,000 recommendations and guides from approved bloggers and instagramers, and is underpinned by some beautiful photography of over 300 cities. Gogobot, Localeur and Wunderwalk are other apps attempting the same thing, but Townske is new in 2015 and has the potential to blow them all out of the…city.

The Good: Brilliant user-face & beautiful photography

The Bad: Navigating through the app can be difficult at times and users cannot edit or add new guides through the app (only via web).

Available on: IOS (Android coming soon)

 

Travel Tools:

Wifi Mapper

This app does exactly what you think it does. Knowing where to find some free wi-fi will come in extremely handy to check your messages, plan activities or to just find that perfect next meal on yelp. Wifi mapper also shows the strength of the signal to avoid you walking 15km for a 3kb/s connection.

The Good: Shows signal strength and connects with foursquare to show you reviews of the places that house free wi-fi. 

The Bad: In some areas of the world, free wifi destinations have not been updated recently enough 

Available on: IOS & Android

 

Google Translate

Translating simple sayings and words on this app will provide you with what you need to get by, but it’s the real-time photographic translator that is truly amazing. Simply point your phone camera at that Japanese food menu and figure out whether you are ordering fresh tuna or raw horse meat.  

The Good: Can translate signs using world lens and allows you to enter text by drawing it on the screen – all offline.

The Bad: Conversation mode can still be a bit unstable and with any translator tool, translations can be too literal. 

Available on: IOS & Android

 

Adventure & Fitness:

Epiclist

Epiclist lets you plan, book and share travel adventures, allowing you to get in touch with hand-selected tour providers and unique activities.  Over 13,000 travel experiences have been added using photos, locations and plans from people in over 70 countries.  Whether you want to look at a hike in Patagonia, a backpacking trip through South East Asia or white water rafting in New Zealand, they are all here.  The most exciting news is that prestigious adventure brand Vaude has recently bought the app, so expect exciting changes in coming months. 

The Good: You can link your shared adventures to your blog or website.

The Bad: Currently only on IOS and Epiclist takes commission on booked trips. 

Available on: IOS (Android coming soon)

 

Sworkit 

Staying fit on your backpacking travels can be quite difficult in between pub crawls and trying every local food possible, and there is rarely room in the budget for gym classes. Sworkit is a bodyweight workout app (no equipment needed), that gives you customised workouts.  Just select what part of your body you want to target, set the time limit, and watch those newly acquired travel kilo's slip away. 

The Good: Over 20 pre-built workouts and the ability to create your own workout. 

The Bad: Need to upgrade to pro to get the most out of the app.  

Available on: IOS and Android

 

Photography:

Twenty20

Twenty20 offers all budding smartphone photographers a chance to extend their travels by getting paid for photos that you upload.  You can enter daily photo challenges and earn cash, prizes and recognition from peers.  Once you upload a photo for a specific challenge, people in the twenty20 community vote, giving your photo an overall rank (checking on your photos rank can get quite addictive).  With companies looking for fresh, unique photos to use for marketing content, this could be a perfect way to make a bit of cash and improve those photography skills.   

The Good:  Chance to connect with other amateur and professional photographers and make some money.

The Bad: Takes a little while to build up recognition and start making money, & only available on IOS 

Available on: IOS

 

Worthy Mentions:

Converter+ - Convert currencies, speeds, weights and just about everything else.

GTFO – Great last minute flight deals if you need to leave in a hurry.

TripIt – Your personal digital travel agent that automatically organises your flights, accommodation and travel needs.

Flickr – Store your photos safely in the cloud with an enormous 1TB limit.   

Loungebuddy – Keep yourself comfortable and entertained in every airport on those long layovers.

 


 

 

Ben Gazzola

Ben is a 25 year old smiling machine.

He loves keeping fit, traveling, cooking, reading, and is constantly conducting ‘research’ in the hope of finding the best coffee and food in Adelaide. He loves meeting new people and immersing himself in foreign cultures, which makes it no surprise that his dream job (whatever it may be) will involve a lot of traveling. In 2014 he completed his bachelor's degree in Marketing & Management.

Expect his style of writing to be informative and insightful with an ever-present pinch of quirky fun. After all, smiling is always good for the soul.

 

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