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As our lives have become more digital, so have our travels. You can plan an entire trip by scrolling through Instagram. Spontaneously booking a long-haul flight has never been easier. And you can even buy your travel insurance while you’re on the plane (though I wouldn’t advise that!).
While you don’t have to become a digital nomad to use technology to aid your adventures, apps are a great way to make the most of any trip. Here are 10 of my favourite solo travellers apps to use whether I’m travelling alone or not.
1 – XE Currency app
Unless you’re staying in Europe and using Euros, it’s impossible to travel without dealing with different currencies. While some conversions are pretty easy to work out, others are next-to impossible.
XE currency is my go-to app when I’m in a new country with a tricky exchange rate. Take the South African rand, for example – when I stayed in Swaziland (now eSwatini) in April, the exchange rate was 17 to 1. It would take a pretty good mathematician to multiple and divide by 17!
XE Currency lets you download and store exchange rates for as many currencies as you like, which is useful if you’re regularly moving between countries or planning budgets.
2 – Google Translate
There are loads of translation apps out there, but I nearly always use Google Translate. The reason I love it is the camera feature, which lets you take photos of words to translate.
Google Translate is especially useful in countries with non-Latin script, even if it’s not 100% accurate. Plus, you can download languages ahead of time so you don’t need cell coverage or WiFi to know what you’re eating for dinner.
3 – Travamigos
One of the worst things about being a digital nomad is the loneliness. Even though I’ve built a network of nomads to socialise with both online and offline, finding others to travel with is HARD. Whether our work schedules don’t align or we can’t find a date that works, it’s almost impossible to organise a trip from the road.
That’s where Travamigos comes in. Travamigos is a really cool social travel app that lets you join other groups of solo travellers. You can just punch in your destination and instantly join a pre-organised ‘trip’ so you’ll have travel buddies to explore with.
4 – WiFi Free
There’s nothing worse than wasting an hour or two searching for WiFi – but it’s not uncommon while travelling. WiFi Free shows you all the nearest WiFi spots to take the guessing out of the hunt. It’s been a lifesaver on many occasions when I’ve been alone and in need of information fast!
Downloand on iOS
5 – Waze
If you’re going to drive anywhere, download Waze. It’s a bit like Google maps, but with extra features such as police alerts, speed camera warnings and celebrity voices to keep you entertained. It’s designed purely for drivers and is the most reliable app I’ve come across.
6 – Maps.me
For the rest of your travels, make sure you have Maps.me downloaded.
There’s nothing worse than getting lost and not having cell coverage to find your way. Maps.me is a map and navigation app that works offline. Simply download the map of your destination and you never have to worry about dead batteries or having no data. It means you can save on roaming costs, too!
7 – Grab
There are lots of taxi apps popping up, but my favourite by far is Grab. It’s become so popular in South East Asia countries such as the Philippines and Malaysia that you can even find Grab stands at the airports.
Every ride in a Grab taxi is registered on the app and each car has its number displayed on the front. As a woman, I find it the safest way for solo travellers to get around in cities.
8 – Netflix
Whether you’re taking a long flight or just taking a solo trip to the beach, having a phone means you don’t need to carry extra weight for entertainment. I love using Netflix because you can download an entire series or movie onto your phone and not need data to watch it.
9 – Facebook Groups
You probably won’t want to spend much time on Facebook while travelling, but Facebook Groups is a game-changer. There’s a group for pretty much everything, and it’s completely changed travel for me.
Whenever I arrive in a new destination, I join the local group for digital nomads or expats. I also love using general groups (e.g. for female travellers or solo travellers) for general travel tips and ideas.
If you want somewhere to start, I have a Facebook for frequent and full-time travellers. Click here to join!
10 – Monzo
One of the most frustrating parts of travel is figuring out how to handle money. Carrying cash is always going to be risky, especially when you’re travelling solo. Plus, it can make you feel vulnerable (it certainly does for me!). Yet debit and credit cards can carry some pretty hefty withdrawal fees, which quickly add up over time.
Since I’m rarely in my home country, I’ve had to find ways to transfer and take out money in a budget-friendly way. Otherwise, I’d be paying a fortune just to live! Monzo is one of my favourite inventions ever and one of the three cards I use to save money on travel. It acts like a prepaid debit card or credit card that you can simply top-up via the app. For some reason, it always has the BEST exchange rate on both card payments and withdrawals, and is entirely free to use.
There are plenty of travel apps out there and I’ve tried a lot of them. Like, a lot. These 10 apps have passed the test because they’re genuinely helpful and enhance my travel experience, and I hope they’ll help you too!