Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Wed July 22 2015

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | July 22, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    Free Must-Have Travel Apps for Smartphones

    Free Must-Have Travel Apps for Smartphones

    Left Image: Not planned and spent the day waiting around in the heat. Right Image: Catching a boat on time = the results of planning ahead thanks to some simple apps! (All photos by Shannon Wolf)

    I’d love to say I travel the good ol’ fashioned way — with only a paper map and intuition — but my sense of direction lacks at times, and plus, it’s 2015. We have technology at our fingertips and I don’t know about you, but I would much rather create great memories instead of sitting on the side of the road dumbfounded or in a cafe spending hours figuring how to get to my next location.

    It cannot be denied, apps are a godsend to any traveler. Below are the most useful ones out there to help you along the way, which I use on a constant basis.

    A glimpse of some of the travel apps I store on my phone and how I have organized them for easy access

    Booking Hostels:

    • Hostelworld
    • Hostelbookers
    • Airbnb
    • Couchsurfing

    Tracking Budgeting:

    • Mint: Money manager, budget and online finance know-it-all. Easy to use and a great way to track your spending on the road.

    Finding your way:

    • Google Maps: I have used this all around the world finding directions — a must-have for everyone.

    • CityMaps2Go: When you don’t have Wi-Fi and need an offline map, this app is perfect! Just remember to download your maps before you get out of a Wi-Fi zone.

    • Uber/Lyft: Cheaper than taking a cab and a lot more effective if you ever get stranded.

    Language Barriers:

    • Google Translate: Never worry about translating a language again. This new translation app can decipher images, texts and voices for you. All you need is Wi-Fi.

    • DuoLingo: Easily learn a new language with this free app! Everyone I know swears by it.

    • Phrasebook: Another useful app for common phrases in different languages.


    • XE Currency: The one app that has saved me countless times trying to remember currency conversions from all around the world. All data is in real time and the app can be used offline.


    • Flight Tracker: Tracks your flights all around the world. Includes critical departure/arrival information as well as maps, gates, and other vital details.

    • Skyscanner/Priceline/Ryanair


    • Foursquare: I use this app religiously and thanks to its indispensible reviews, I have found top rated eating-places around the world. Other travelers and locals rate each location. (Stick to ones rated 9.0 and higher for W-O-W food experiences)


    • WhatsApp: The most-used app for staying connected to friends and family all around the world. All you need is a phone number.

    • Viber/Facetime (for iPhone)/Facebook Messenger: For those of you who don’t have a phone number, Viber is a great way to stay connected.

    • Skype: I have personally used their phone service more times then I ever thought I would. It’s cheap, reliable and worth it. In 8 months, I have made plenty of phone calls from all corners of the globe and it has only cost me $11.

    Thanks to the Airbnb app, a group of travel friends and I were able to rent this beautiful villa over the holidays


    • Instagram: Share all of your moments with friends. Instagram is a great way to showcase your images and write small stories about where you are and what you’re doing.

    • Hyperlapse: Allows you to take time-lapse images rather than a regular photo.

    • VSCOCam: The best photo-editing tool.

    • CameraTimer: For travelers who are better than using a selfie-stick.

    Staying Fit:

    • 7 Minutes: Gives you a good seven minute workout and sets a reminder for you.

    • Breathe: An easy to use and nice meditative app focused on breathing techniques.

    • Daily Yoga: A few free yoga classes for all the yogis out there.


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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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