Best Apps For Backpackers and Travellers ( The Ones a Full Time Traveller Actually Uses!)

My Best Travel Apps

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To say that there are a lot of travel apps out there is somewhat of an understatement, but how do you wrangle out the ones that are actually useful?
I was thinking about this and decided that I would just show you exactly what apps I use for travel, and why I think they’re the best.
This was never intended to be a list of exclusively free apps travel apps – but as it turns out I seem to prefer the free ones!
So here they are, the must have travel apps I personally use to get myself around the planet – as you can see in the pin – that is a screenshot of my travel folder! I ACTUALLY use these apps!

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Sky Scanner App

I have expressed my love for Sky Scanner before, and while I am now a #SkyscannerAmabassador, I have been using this app and website for years.

You can look for exactly what you want. A flight from here to there on this date, sort by date/time/arrival/departure/length of flight/by airline.

This is the best, in my humble opinion, the best way to save money on your flights while travelling and any guide to the best travel apps would be remiss not to include it.

Sky Scanner sends you to the actual provider, so you always know who you’re buying your ticket from.
You can see the cheapest and most expensive days and months to fly, just like on the website.

Not only can you book flights, but it can help you find hotels and car rentals. Additionally the website has awesome articles that can help you decide where you want to go next.

Get it here: You can download the app by clicking here

Three words.
Reliable. Offline. Maps.

This is the best map app for travel – hands down.
You go in, download the map you want, and then you have it. It works.
It works in Paris.
It works in Cairo
It works on a little island in the Cyclades
It just works.

This paired with a fully charged up external battery and I feel invincible in basically any city.
MAPS.ME uses a special data compressing method which makes the size of map files incredibly small, while still maintaining the highest level of detail. For example, the full detailed map of Switzerland is just 162MB (203MB with routing). Because they keep the sizes so small the maps are downloaded fast, you can zoom in and out smoothly and it doesn’t eat up all your data – what’s not to love here seriously?

Get it here


Easiest way to book train tickets in the UK. You can choose any of the 2,564 stations on your dates, and it will let you know the times and prices of every class and type of ticket.
It shows you the cheapest, and the fastest, and how many seats are left, and the connections, if there are any.
Not only this, it shows you what the equivalent bus route would cost. This has saved me so many times from spending £60 when only £10 was needed.

Plus, it is easy to use and it remembers your details.
Get it here

I like in general, but there is a specific reason I love the app.
Its official, it’s live.
I walked into a hostel I had booked on Booking and their system didn’t have me on it. They were adamant, but because I was able to pull out my phone and show them my confirmation (paid in full) they stopped arguing with me and searched for my booking number.
It turned out that it had accidentally been left off their physical books, but because they could see the confirmation on the phone in front of them – they realised the mistake.
In addition to saving my ass in that situation, it means you can book on the fly – you don’t need a laptop.

Get it here

Google Translate

Hysterical first time solo traveller + Greek receptionist with very little English = not exactly great first day in Greece (you can read the whole story here).
Add Google Translate to that equation however, and you have a very helpful gentleman and a rapidly calming down first time solo traveller.

We were able to communicate, and I was able to read the bus time table he gave me.
It also saved me a few years later when I had a terrible chest infection and could barely speak. I was able to write a description and list my allergies in a note, then copy and paste in to Google Translate – that way I was able to communicate to the doctors pretty clearly what was wrong.

As the app has developed so has its functionality. Languages are now available to download, so you can translate offline. The target language can be inputted by the microphone, so you can have a reasonably natural conversation without stopping to type each thing you want to say.
But the newest feature is my favourite.
You DO need internet for this to work, but you can show printed words in the target language to the camera and it will translate live on screen.

Get it here

XE Currency

Up to date, offline and live. Extensive list of currencies available.

It is reliable and is easy to use.

There is no fancy discussion on why I like this app – it is just, very simply, the best.

Get it here


I don’t know how I became so obsessed with countdowns – maybe it was the advent calendar thing as a kid. But now, the moment I book something in – it goes in a count down. I even have count … ups? From sentimental things in the past – our first date, when I first travelled to Egypt, since I’ve been in Greece last.
I like this app because, not only is it free, but it works perfectly on the free version.

Yes you can pay to unlock lots of cool things but the functionality of the app is just fine without spending a penny.
You can have multiple countdowns (or count-ups) on the go. The badge shows you how many days until your next event – so you can get all excited at a glance which I love, you can also turn this option off.

Get it here

Airline Apps

I’m not going to review every single airline app (in this post anyway).
All I’m going to say is that generally, I have had excellent experiences with the apps from airlines.
They tend to be basic, but they work. You can see your check in status, your seat number, and the general status of the flight. Some of the better ones even have your boarding pass, active gate status, and upgrade ability.
I always check the boards and have a saved copy of my boarding pass but its nice to be able to scan your phone and jump on a plane!

I suggest getting the app for the airline you are flying with because it is honestly useful!

Get it from your airlines website

Find My Friends

This is an Apple feature that kind of freaks a lot of people out – I don’t want people knowing where I am ALL the time.

First up, you can turn it on an off, so calm down. But second up, why does it matter?
I was always a proponent of ‘don’t look at me big brother’ but actually, my life isn’t that exciting. The people I have on it are: my mum, my dad, my sister, my nephew, and my boyfriend.
I like 10,000 miles (10,090 to be more precise) from all of the people on that list, except my boyfriend. My family are TEN THOUSAND miles away from me. And vice versa. My mum, like many mums, worries like it is an Olympic sport.

As a travel nutter, I am either on my couch (very boring) or wandering around a strange city somewhere (very not boring). So, if being able to wake up and see where I am makes my Mum worry even 1/100th less – it’s worth it.
Yes, sometimes I do get a message saying “Sammi, why are you in a field?” I’m usually not, I’m usually next to the field and the GPS is a few metres off.

My partner and I both ride motorbikes, notoriously difficult to text while riding (not to mention stupid, illegal, and dangerous). So if he is running late, and I check to see where he is and I can see that he is in the worst traffic jam zone in England I can be calm (I am my mother’s daughter after all).

That peace of mind, where I can check my phone and see that my loved ones are all at home or at work is comforting when you’re missing home. Not to mention it is handy when you are planning a surprise visit home and you want to make sure they actually ARE at home when you surprise them.

The Best Free Travel Apps for Travellers

We like free here, and we like things that work Every one on this list is a must have travel app in my opinion – and what do you have to lose, they’re all FREE!
Do you have a favourite app you use while you travel? If so let me know in the comments!

pinterest image for best travel apps free actually used by a full time traveller background image showing womans hand using phone, a black desktop with laptop and other gadgets

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