Top iPhone Travel Apps Every Backpacker Needs

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Nowadays traveling without a smartphone is rare. The abundance of useful travel apps has completely revolutionized modern travel. From currency converters to language translators, there's an iPhone app for that.


  Price: Free

Backpackers have a tendency to collect SIM cards like bracelets as they wander from country to country. While this is great for staying connected, the biggest downside is that your number constantly changes. WhatsApp solves that by giving you one number that never changes, regardless of country. You can also share photos, videos, audio notes and even your current location, making it an invaluable tool when trying to meet people in a foreign country where addresses are not readily available -- or readable. Group chats make it easy to stay in touch with other travelers you meet as you each blaze your own trail through the country, meeting up again whenever -- and wherever -- your paths should cross.


  Price: Free

One of the best things about traveling is trying new local restaurants and bars. Yelp has amassed over 70 million reviews, photos and information on businesses, stores and venues worldwide. Their innovative search features make finding exactly what you crave as easy as a couple of taps. Want to know where the nearest open bar is? How about the most popular restaurant with locals? Let Yelp help. But the best part? Their reviews are more honest and contain much more useful information (such as wifi passwords, dish reviews, and recommended employee names) than those found on TripAdvisor.

iTranslate Voice

  Price: $6.99

For less than the price of one of those antiquated pocket translation guide books -- which by the way only work in one country -- iTranslate Voice allows you to instantly speak in over 40 different languages from around the world. Over the last few years the app has consistently gotten better and better and recognizing words and providing accurate translations. It also acts as an electronic dictionary, allowing you to look up definitions for individual words or quick translations for simple phrases. Users can also save important or frequently used phrases to their phrasebook, allowing for quick access to key phrases that might be difficult to remember or tricky to pronounce. As soon as you begin traveling with this app, it becomes indispensible!

XE Currency

  Price: Free

Since long before their were even smart phones, I've used XE for all my currency conversions. Their app offers up all the information of their site in a streamlined, easy to navigate way. Check current conversion rates between any two currencies on the planet, even track back through the weeks, months or years to see how a particular currency has performed over time. But beyond all that, with XE Currency you'll never be screwed over by a tricky salesman, dishonest currency exchange shop or shady taxi driver again.


  Price: Free (with in-app purchases)

Postagram is one of the coolest apps you've probably never even heard of. What it allows you to do is take any photo from your iPhone -- or Facebook, Dropbox and a variety of other sources -- and turn it into a glossy, professional-looking postcard. This postcard is printed out and can be mailed anywhere in the USA for only $0.99 and is delivered in as little as two business days. Need to mail it elsewhere in the world? That's only $1.99, although delivery can take a couple of weeks depending upon the destination. I have an iPhone 5C with T-Mobile's ultra-fast wireless and with Postagram I can take a selfie while hiking, add a quick message and send it off to friends back home in less than a minute.


  Price: Free

Couchsurfing began as a web site that revolutionized the way backpackers travel around the world by putting travelers in touch with locals in 120,000 cities around the world. Locals, many of whom are travelers themselves in between trips, open up their house to foreign guests. Both gain knowledge and information about the other's culture, plus the backpackers get insight and tips directly from a local -- and a free place to stay! Win-win.

What other iPhone travel apps can you not live without when backpacking?

Derek Freal

" ǝʌıʇɔǝdsɹǝd ɹǝɥʇouɐ ɯoɹɟ sƃuıɥʇ ǝǝs oʇ ǝʌol ı "
Derek is a perpetual wanderer, cultural enthusiast, and lifelong traveler. He loves going places where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, as well as places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo (supposedly its healthier and more efficient). Say Hello On Twitter!



+1 # The Guy Who Flies 2015-08-12 11:11
Hey Derek,

That is a nice list and I can see why people would see the appeal of those. Even still I'm quite contrary to most in that I'm not a big fan of travel apps. I don't like bringing my phone and being subject to roaming charges when I travel so extensively. I also hate how apps always seem to be updating, using up data allowance then slowing a phone down. I recently had a smartphone die on me because it just couldn't handle software updates etc anymore. I went a couple of weeks without a smartphone and was quite happy with it.

I'm always inundated with people trying to promote their apps to me. It is hard to keep up.

I'm happy to browse online for information I need (on a computer/tablet or smartphone) and can also skype/facetime as well.

Sorry for the contrary view to most but that's just how I am.
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+1 # Derek Freal 2015-08-12 14:38
Hey Guy, totally understand everything you are saying. Especially with business travel, or short trips, smart phones can be more of a burden than a necessity. But try spending three months motorcycling Vietnam or four months in Nepal going back and forth mountain to different village every week doing relief work and post-quake assessments (like now). My days back in Kathmandu are spent in meetings and preparing for meetings, with the down time in between in the back of taxis or rickshaws often spent on my phone. Suddenly I've been living like a local...kind of. I'd completely disappear from existence without my phone, and nothing would get done. What I mean is, given everything going on here, I've been SO busy that I haven't written but a handful articles the last four months. Some of my readers are probably worried about me (and some of my sponsors hehehe oops sorry y'all!). But at least with my iPhone and a few of my favorite apps I'm still able to survive, keep in touch, and live daily life in sporadic and remote parts of Nepal. That doesn't mean I don't love me a good tech detox every few months though ;-)
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0 # The Guy Who Flies 2015-08-12 15:03
Absolutely Derek. We are different types of travellers so have different travel needs. I guess that is why we use phones in different ways.

Do you remember travel before mobile phones? I spent a month on the road travelling mainland Europe then. Let's Go Europe was our perfect travel app of the time :lol:
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0 # Derek Freal 2015-08-12 15:13
Ohhhhh man do I ever! When I lived in Tokyo in 2008 I had to plug my laptop in to the phone jack at my flat. Every time I wanted to try and visit somewhere I had found online, I had to stare at the map for a minute to mentally memorize it, or draw a rough copy on a piece of paper.

Even when I found cool places on my own, the only way I could track them (since I couldn't produce the Japanese characters on my keyboard to do a search for the name) was to search online for the phone number. So I always saved my receipts. Nowadays all we have to do is open any one of a dozen apps and *voila!*

Technology definitely has its ups and downs.
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