Apps for Travellers

Apps for Travellers

So far, all the posts you’ve read here on Indefinite Adventure have been penned by me, Sam. Here is Zab’s debut post. Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with coffee, but I think he’s working on one about that for later.

I have had a passion for gadgets since I was a child, but the toys I own must have a purpose and be assured of full use. I bought an unlocked iPhone 4 in September 2010 and an iPad 4 in December 2012. These are my toys of choice. Previously, I never owned a smartphone or a tablet, just my faithful 7 year old 15″ PowerBook laptop. Sam travels with an 11″ MacBook Air and his new 5th generation iPod Touch. These 4 devices are a perfect match for what we aim to accomplish both personally and professionally during our indefinite adventure.

As bit of a gadget geek I couldn’t resist exploring what apps were out there that would be fun to use on our adventures. I have chosen to initially review two apps: one to manage your money, and one to know where you are.

trail_wallet

Trail Wallet

A very neat and compact travel money and expense tracker app created by Simon at Never Ending Voyage. Now a seasoned digital nomad, he has a real idea of what travellers need to know if they are to manage their money in a simple yet informative way. This app is in the tray on my iPhone, so it’s accessible not matter what screen I’m on! When you are out and about it’s no use on page two, if like me, you don’t want to have loads of paper receipts or forget what you just spent.

When first opening the app (which has coincidentally just had a few very useful tweaks in the latest update), you clearly see what you have spent that day. The opening screen also highlights other useful summary information.

In the settings screen you enter your daily budget, select your home currency and the local currency of the country you are travelling in. In the latest version of the app you are able to change existing and create new expense categories. The app has a nifty built in exchange rate converter to calculate the local currency back to your home currency. It would be great in future versions if the currency converter reminded you to update if your stay in a country is, for example, longer than one month. This is particularly relevant in areas where there is high inflation or prices change frequently.

Entering your spending is easy and intuitive. Enter the amount, either local or home currency, select the category of spend, the date and either tap save or you have the option to save and add another expense. The app costs £1.49 on the iTunes store.

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Simon, and his partner Erin, have created a short demonstration video of the their app which is not just useful but quite amusing.

Rating: highly recommended

City Maps2Gocitymaps2go_icon

I stumbled across this app by chance. The developers behind this fantastic app, Ulmon, were doing a free offer for a couple of their city maps on AppsGonefree. I have to admit the the name City Maps 2Go really doesn’t do this app justice. I wouldn’t be surprised if the likes of Apple or Google were to buy this company as what the team at Ulmon have created is nothing short of amazing.

I have the paid app, which is available for £1.49 in iTunes, and I think is more than reasonable for what you get. When you open the app it contains no maps. Odd you may think, but it allows you to download the maps you wish to store on your device so freeing up space for other essentials, such as music for bumpy 13 hour bus journeys.

I have used the maps now in seven countries: United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Argentina and now in Chile. In all the European countries I had phone signal and 3G throughout. However, in Argentina we purchased a pay-as-you-go SIM card. Mobile signal is good in cities but often when travelling long distances the is no signal whatsoever. It is a similar situation here in Chile. We currently have no mobile signal as we haven’t purchased a Chilean SIM card. We are relying totally on the wifi at our hostel.

Before departing London for Buenos Aires, Sam and I worked out what maps we would need for both Argentina and Chile, the first two countries on our travels. We downloaded both city and regional maps. The Buenos Aires city map was the first to be used. It contained, surprisingly, a very detailed mapping of the city down to underground stations, pharmacies, hospitals, restaurants and places of interest. The outstanding point of this app is it works without the need for either phone signal or data roaming! Sam and I were able to walk around the city knowing exactly where we were and in what direct we were travelling. Just point your device in any direction to determine which where to go.

After flying south to El Calafate to spend a few days in the area, we took the 11 hour bus journey to El Chaltén. Much of the journey was on gravel roads with no phone signal. To illustrate the remoteness, the closest form of communication was the two radio on the infrequent SOS masts along the gravel road. Throughout the ride it was great to determine where we were along our dusty journey and what sights might be coming up.

Now for the crowning jewel. We had planned to do a few hikes whilst in El Chaltén. The owner of our hostel lent us a map highlighting the trails around the mountains. He explained we could join the trial just next to our hostel. We were in bit of a hurry to leave on our 6+ hour hike as we wanted to be back before dark. After about 15 minutes into our hike we realised we’d left the map behind! After a short debate we thought perhaps with some luck the app would highlight this well known trail. To our relief it did and a most enjoyable hike it turned out to be!citymaps2go1citymaps2go3citymaps2go2

Rating: most excellent

Disclaimer: all images are used with permission of the developers. If you use the links here to buy one of these apps, we do not get any commission. We recommend them because we think they’re worth the money.