Luís Simões, travel sketcher around the world
Essential travel apps
“What map app do you use?”
That’s the common question I got from people who follow me on social media and want to know that are my essential travel apps. Ok, a map app is an important thing. When it comes to planning – especially on bicycle touring, Luís and I always want to know how to go next, or we are simply want to know where am we are at the moment. But don’t you know that there are crucial and handy apps that we use during traveling beside the map app?
There are plenty of travel apps that not only a source of inspiration but also extremely useful for booking and managing logistics. However, traveling by bicycle sometimes brought us to rural areas that haven’t been touch by the internet – sometimes up to days, or even weeks!
So, here are apps that Luís and I use during our travel by bicycle in South America and southern Africa.
Maps to use offline
Maps.me – free
Instead of using the google map, we are using Maps.me. It’s our go-to offline maps app. It is a handy app that you can download per country or per region – whatever you like. So, after you leave a country, you can delete and save up storage for another map! You can also add/edit bookmarks that can help you to personalize your travel.
Maps.me also provides small roads that sometimes didn’t show up on the google map. The only downside for us using the app is we can’t rely on this app to make the bicycle route. Often it leads us to unpleasant roads.
MapOut – $4.99
MapOut is the best IOS mapping app so far! We tried the OsmAnd mapping app that works great on our friend’s android smartphone but eventually doesn’t work as great as in our IOS. It gives us the flexibility to draw our route in detail. Yet, we couldn’t transfer the route directly to our GPS.
Komoot – In-app purchases
Komoot app has lots of features available. You can choose your activities such as road bike, downhill, bike touring, run, walking, etc. The app is pretty sensible. It shows the condition of the roads. In short, it’s a pretty complete app. However, it has a downside that isn’t convenient which always needs the internet to create a route.
Before we have MapOut, we had to plan ahead until we are sure that there is an internet connection in the last place. But now, we are still using Komoot as a bridge to transfer our route from MapOut into our GPS.
Booking.com & Airbnb – free
Booking.com is one of the largest selections of hotels and home rentals. And so far, Luís and I don’t have a problem with it. But when we prefer to book home rentals instead of a hotel, we use the Airbnb app. Somehow the options are nicer and homey.
iOverlander – free but welcome for a donation
iOverlander is not an app for arranging accommodation but to know what is in the town. It’s not only contained with accommodation, but it also has restaurants, laundry, embassies, everything that travelers need! What we like the most about this app is mostly the information is genuine and came from budget travelers like us. So, there is nothing fancy nor luxury hotel in this app. You also can add information base on your experience.
Almost forgot one important thing… the iOverlander app also works offline.
Couchsurfing & Warmshowers.org – free but welcome for a donation
These are community platforms that allow you to stay with the local people. However, I really want you to put in mind that the most important thing is don’t forget the spirit of each platform. Couchsurfing or Warmshowers.org are not communities platform where you can stay for free just because…
Usually, we use these platforms when we don’t feel too tired. So, we can share the moment and stories with our host. Although like in Warmshowers.org, some hosts already know that the first day is a rest day. So, the host will give us some space and let us unwind.
Foursquare – free
Because I like to eat good food, this one is crucial for me! Usually, it works really well in big cities around the world.
Google Translate – free
If you don’t know yet, you can download the local language when you have internet and use it offline.
Currency – In-app purchases
Free app only allows you to have four different currencies. But for us, four are more than enough for what we do. It still needs the internet connection to update but works offline.
Revolut is one of the largest digital banks. The ability to convert currency at the best possible rates, transfer money internationally for nothing, and spend money across the globe without any fees are very convenient benefits to have one of these digital banks.
Wallet – In-app purchases
As budget travelers, we want to control our spending. The best part to have the wallet app is when we check our budget at the end of the month and found out that we still have plenty of budgets, we can enjoy a little comfort for the next few days.
Shazam – In-app purchases
New places also mean new cultures. Sometimes we heard a new song that makes us dance or simply enjoy that brings an urge to know who sings it, Shazam is our magic!
Specific apps for specific places
Am I missing some essential travel apps? Feel free to enlighten me in the comment!