If you are travelling with a smartphone then you should make sure it is stocked with apps that will help you out when you are on the road. Using a laptop is great for things like Skype or buying flights, but pulling it out every time you need to do something minor can be a hassle. Having a smartphone on hand with the right apps will save you time, hassle, and money.
Here are my picks for the Top 5 Backpacking Travel Apps, each a valuable tool to the intrepid wanderer.
The google translate app is a must for anyone going to destinations where they don't understand the language(s). The app allows you to type, draw, and photograph text and have it translated for you. If you often find yourself lost and rambling to strangers then this app is worth its digital weight in gold. Moreover, if you are actually trying to learn a language it can help you practice as you trek the world; it's a classroom at your fingertips. Download the applicable language packs for offline use, and you can converse with the world.
Obviously. Though I cannot state how helpful this can be. More often than not, guidebooks- and even travel blogs and websites- have outdated directions. Without a SIM card you wont have wifi access all the time, but you can take screenshots of maps and save them for when you need them most. In tandem with google translate, you've just saved yourself a lot of headaches. There are travel apps like City Guide and Gogobot that are both maps and guides but I prefer to keep things simple. Pintrest and Trover get honourable mentions here for their ability to point you to areas of interest...but in the end, a map is all you need.
This app is from Nomadic Matt. Funded by his Kickstarter campaign, TripSaver it is a budgeting app that will track your expenses while backpacking. It gives you a few options as to your traveling style, with a recommended budget for each country. It's a simple, low-key app but one that can keep your finances in order so you don't break the bank whilst wandering the globe. While I prefer to keep such notes on paper, I am forcing myself to adjust using this app since it is so simple and straightforward.
If you are travelling on a budget, chances are you will be using Couchsurfing for as much of your trip as you can. They just updated their app and it's now better than ever- it will help you find locals to meet, places to crash, and let you keep in touch as you plan your stay from country to country. It really is a radical way to travel, so make an account, join some groups, and become a part of this vibrant community.
I convert everything to the Canadian Dollar. Christine converts everything to the Swedish Kronor. Having a currency converter on hand became a necessary part of many of our conversations...and since I am horrible at math, it still is. It ALSO is a huge help when we travel, since moving from country to country means you are constantly adjusting your currencies. Having a converter will making planning, budgeting, and spending easier. XE is my currency converter of choice, but there are a ton of free ones available if you take a look.
Now, there are a lot more travel apps out there and case can be made for many of them- feel free to share yours in the comments. Just remember, if you fear a lost or damaged or stolen phone then leave yours at home! If that's not a concern than you should hit the road with the above apps on your next excursion. Plus, if you bring your phone you can still feed your Candy Crush addiction. Win-Win.