Throughout my travels in Europe for 6 months, there was no way I could travel with much ease and convenience if not for the use of certain travel apps. Really, getting around would have been a whole lot tougher if not for these apps.
One reason why I turned to reading virtual maps is because I didn’t want to flash “TOURIST, PICKPOCKET ME” on my face by carrying a map around.
I’ve only listed free travel apps below that I firmly believe is essential and would recommend, some of which I’ve personally used in my 6 months of travel around Europe, so that you save on downloading redundant apps and put your phone storage space to better use instead!
These free travel apps are available on Android and Apple.
Best Free Offline Travel Apps
A main consideration I make when downloading apps is the option of offline use. A second consideration is the comprehensiveness of the app, especially for guides that show me around the city. What’s the point of downloading a city guide if I don’t have the full story of the city?
There are 3 city guide apps that I find to be useful, with the pros and cons stated under each of them.
- Offline map
- GPS function
- Provides details on maps for lesser travelled places
- Takes up considerable phone space
- Offline map
- GPS function
- Suggested self-walking tour itineraries, thus saving the hassle of having to google every attraction of the city or pay for a tour guide
- Displays distance of route and estimated duration to complete walk.
- Some cities even have information on shopping areas, antique-hunting and nightlife
- Each city is an app on its own, so that means you’d have to download 10 apps for 10 cities that you are planning to visit
I’m talking about offline public transportation maps in each city, like the subway map. I used the Tube app for London’s subway (view on iTunes, Google Play) and RATP app for Paris’ (view on iTunes, Google Play) a lot while I was in Europe and I can vouch for their mobile-friendliness!
Transport apps are useful if you are travelling frequently with a certain airline carrier or train, e.g. Voyages-sncf (view on Google Play).
If you’re going to be based in a foreign-speaking country, a translator app will be handy. I’ve only used Google Translate online, but you can download language packs for offline use as well!
Weather, plays a crucial role in every traveller’s plan. Every night before I sleep, I check next day’s weather so as to plan for my outfit and tweak my itinerary if need be. To be honest, I haven’t found a suitable offline weather app that is free, so my best bet would be to check online using the accommodation’s free Wi-Fi.
Useful if you can’t do mental sums quickly like me. XE Currency is one option, but if you already know your currency exchange, just do it the fool proof way – with your calculator!
If you’re a serial traveller, you would be privy to grocery shopping and constantly facing units of measurements. While I didn’t use such an app while I was in Europe (in retrospect, I wish I did!), a free tool is Converter Plus on iTunes or Unit Converter on Google Play.
These apps are useful for when I need to book accommodation on-the-go. Airbnb and Hostelworld are some of the go-to apps for when I need a roof under my head. I also use Couchsurfing because well, I Couchsurf (and here’s why you should Couchsurf too)!
Get $45 off your first Airbnb stay!
Of course, there are plenty more free travel apps available on Android and Apple, but some of the apps I mentioned are apps that I’ve personally used and stuck with, and hence can vouch for their user-friendliness, comprehensiveness and usefulness!
Read: Travel Resources