We’ve been traveling for the past 6 months (I can’t believe it’s been 6 months already), and there have been many mobile apps that are essential to our experience on the road. In my old job at Google, my work was focused on the growth of the mobile app ecosystem. Now that we are on the road it is amazing how essential mobile apps are, especially apps with offline functionality, GPS tracking, and camera integration.
The apps below are the best we’ve found, categorized.
Essential For Learning Spanish:
-Google Translate. The latest update allows you to take a picture of text and instantly translate
–DuoLingo. The best free way to learn a language
–Lingua.ly. We heard Lingua.ly is good language learning app and are going to try this next
–CoffeeBreak Spanish. Its a Podcast (not an app), season 3 is great
-ConjuVerb App. Verb flashcards
Photo sharing, editing, and storing:
-Camera+. My favorite app for editing pics
-Hyperlapse. A fun way to do time lapse videos
–Google Photos. The best way to back up and share all of your photos online. Cheap storage costs, great editing tools.
Messaging and Communication:
–Telegram. Super fast messaging that uses very little data. We tried out all of the messaging apps (What’sApp, Line, WeChat, GroupMe, HangOuts), Telegram has by far the best performance of all
–Facebook Groups. A good way to meet other travelers. For example, we met a lot of our friends on the facebook group PanAmerican Travelers. Also important to have your own community page so that you can link your Instragram pics and use to communicate with other travelers.
-Google Hangouts. Great for calling even with a low bandwidth connection. Has worked better for us than Skype.
–Earthmate. Allows us to control our DeLorme InReach satellite communicator. Functions include sending messages, tracking our location, logging waypoints, and even send an SOS signal, all without cellular connection (done via satellite with purchase and subscription to DeLorme InReach).
–Maps.me. Simply the best offline maps and navigation app I’ve ever used. Download maps by country. Includes trail maps and hiking navigation. The most essential app for traveling that we use.
-Google Maps (of course). Works everywhere, but you can only save fairly small areas for offline use, and the process for doing so isn’t great.
–iOverlander. This is the best overlanding app for finding places to camp. It is still being developed by a current overlanding team (Song of the road), but it has been so helpful. Content is mostly good outside the USA.
-AllStays Campsites. A great app to find established campsites in the USA
–AirBnB. Find great local places to stay all over the world.
–Foursquare. Great for finding the local scene outside USA.
–Yelp. Best city guide in the US.
–TripAdvisor (major cities). Really helpful if you want to know where all the Gringos are
-Podcasts (Apple App). We listen to “BBC”, “Marketplace”, “This American Life”, “Serial”, “StartUp”, “The Tim Ferriss Show”, “Rich Roll”, “RadioLab”, “TedRadio Hour”, “Tuesdays With Aaron”, “The Moth”, “FreshAir”, “All Songs Considered” and “Freakonomics” all through this app. Podcasts are so helpful for staying informed on the road; it has replaced TV for us.
–Overcast.Fm. Use this app to “speed listen” to your podcasts. Eliminates pauses.
–Kindle. Jenine and I share a Kindle account so we can share books
–audible.com. Audiobook subscription where you can listen to one book per month, which is perfect for us. Works internationally.
–GoodReads. A good place to find good books to read
Reading Online Content, quickly and when offline:
–Pocket App & Instapaper App. Save and find great articles to read later, even when offline
–ReadQuick. This is a speed reading app where you can import your Instapaper and Pocket articles. Works offline. You can set the Words Per Minute, and quickly read through several article in one sitting.
The combination of these two apps is probably my best time saving hack. I save all online content that I want to read to either the Pocket App or to Instapaper (both are great). Then I use the ReadQuick App to speed read those articles (@ 400 – 500 Words Per Minute) each morning. This way I can read a lot of the New Yorker articles each month. Note that I pay for a full digital New Yorker subscription.
–Quora. The smartest community written articles online; I love reading the answers on here.
–Spotify. Works internationally, and the offline storage and playback capabilities allow us to have music even when not connected.
–BandsInTown. Find live shows in the city you are in, even outside the USA, and track all the concerts of your favorite bands.
–SkyGuide. So amazing, every night we find new things in the sky. Track planets and even the International Space station. Doesn’t require an internet connection either.
Storage, viewing files offline:
Google Drive and Google Docs. Offline features and amazing online editing tools. Drive is better and cheaper than Box/DropBox
Note Taking / Shopping List / To Do List:
–Wunderlist. Simple and great list creation and sharing.
–Sleep Cycle – Measures sleep quality and wakes you up at the perfect moment
–TripIt. When I was traveling a lot for work, this was a lifesaver. Easily import your flight, hotel and AirBnB reservations.
Honestly, movies take way too long to download on the road. Bring a DVD player and buy DVDs local; your local street vendor probably has them for cheap.
–Interval Timer. Using a workout timer is a great way to efficiently move through a daily workout. For example, I do 5 minutes routines each of pushups, abs, squats, kettle bell swings and handstand pushup. The timer app gets me through the workout quickly.
-MindBody Connect. Find local workout classes and schedule & pay in the app
–Surfline. I primarily use Surfline for surf reports, but MagicSeaweed is also very helpful.
Finances / Budgeting:
–Mint.com. Keep track of your spending and budget
-PayPal & Google Wallet. Best way to send money online
–Headspace. We use this app for 20 minutes every day. We pay for the monthly subscription. This is by far the best way to start our day, and I highly encourage you to try this app if you are new to meditation.
–Meditation Challenge. Deepak and Oprah team up for several 21 day mediation series. You can buy them online (wait for a sale) and import them into the app. Works offline.
–Coach.Me. Develop habits using social pressure to help you keep on track with your daily goals. No offline features yet, so hard to use when off grid
I hope that was helpful. Feel free to comment on apps you are using on the road that we might have missed. Have fun out there!
(follow us on Instagram/travelingtheamericas)
FYI, here are screenshots from my iPhone homepages: