Technology & Apps for travel

Technology & Apps for travel

I can’t wait for the day when technology no longer needs cables and plugs in order to charge.  I know it’s coming, but I wish it would hurry up.

The equipment seems relatively compact (given what it can do) but I feel depressed when I then add all the cables and chargers and plugs and batteries to the pile as well!

And they’re so heavy and bulky!

Below I’ve listed what I took, as well as apps that I, and other travellers I’ve spoken to, find useful.  Of course, it’s all a moving feast and what’s in today is old tomorrow!

Timor_mausoleum_Samarkand
Timor's Mausoleum, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Best Travel Apps

Technology

Managing Money

Spending Tracker This is my preferred spending app.  It’s simple, but unlike Trail Wallet, you can’t use multiple currencies. It can be used offline.  I set up a different account for each country.

Trail Wallet: This is a spending tracker app made by two digital nomads.  I’ve used it off and on, I find the little cartoons and comments slightly irritating, but it’s worth a look.  I’m determined to give it a good go next time I’m away.

XE I use all the time when travelling.  It gives the mid-rate, so won’t be spot on but gives a fair idea, and can be used offline on iPad or iPhone.

News

The Guardian  UK-based newspaper that has good world coverage. You can update the app and read it offline.

Maps

Maps.me – Great for offline maps.  Not perfect, but I’ve not found anything better that’s free that can be used offline.

Diary/Journal/Blog

Day One  I love this app, I just wish I would use it more!  A thousand good intentions…. I have it on my iPhone, iPad and MacBook and it syncs seamlessly.  Great for chronicling your trip but also really handy if you intend to blog.  You can add pictures easily as well as map references.

WordPress  If you intend to blog, try the app but at the time I used it, you couldn’t log out, except to delete the app. Which is a huge risk, so I stopped using it and deleted the app. If you are intending to write a blog, I’d suggest you go ‘hosted’ from the outset, it saves time later.

Accommodation

AirBnB I’ve used this in many countries and stayed in some great places.

Booking.com Easy interface and stacks of accommodation for all budgets

TripAdvisor Needs no introduction!

Eating out

Happy Cow I’ve not used this app, but it’s supposed to be good for finding vegetarian restaurants.

TripAdvisor Who uses a guidebook for places to eat these days?

Travel

Google Translate Can be a little bit off key, but can come in handy. I’ve used it when needed pharmacy medicine in Vietnam.  I think we got what we needed!

Skyscanner Good for finding out combinations of flights when you’re unsure of routes

Photography

Snapseed Good photo app from Google

Apps to set up before you go

Skype Can be a bit hit and miss, but hey…it’s free communication!

Whatsapp Great for texting via wifi or data package on a SIM

Internet Banking – up to you.

Google Authenticator One to look into, but I needed it whilst I was away and unable to access my usual mobile number to authenticate certain apps and processes.  Namely, Hotmail which kept bouncing me out when I was in China.

DropBox Cloud storage

Fill those empty hours

Duo Lingo Learn another language

Netflicks (you’ll probably need a VPN and very good wifi!)

BBC player (you’ll definitely need a VPN if outside of UK)

Backing up Photos

In theory backing up your photos to a cloud-based service seem the best idea, but it’s dependent on you being able to access to good and consistent internet.  I gave up trying to back up photos in this way and bought an external hard drive.  A fellow traveller on our truck with a laptop let many of us use his laptop to transfer photos to the hard drive.  We also shared photos between us on memory sticks.

Laptop

I set off travelling without a laptop and purchased one en route.  I wasn’t alone. By the end of the overland trip, 6 out of 15 travellers bought laptops along the way.  By the end of the trip, only 3/15 didn’t have a laptop.  So if you’re dithering about taking one, I’d say it’s essential.

They are great for watching films on slow days and nights as well as keeping in touch and if you’re intending to blog, I’d say a laptop is essential.  I thought I would be able to blog via the WordPress app, but it was too cumbersome to type on the iPad mini keyboard and transfer photos from my camera to my iPad.  Of course, it’s possible, but in the end it wasn’t easy and I got fed up with the process, as a result my blog suffered.

I crumbled and purchased a MacBook Air in Malaysia and wondered why it took me to so long.  I wish I’d had it from the beginning of the trip. I also wish I’d installed (and learned!) Adobe Lightroom as it makes sorting photos so much easier.  I still have 3500 photos to sort!  A big job for a very rainy day.  I wish I’d done it as I traveled, I had plenty of time to.

A fellow travel bought a Chromebook which was relatively inexpensive.  He used it purely to back up photos and load up with films to watch whilst travelling. I think this was a good option, price-wise.  I think he managed to watch the whole of Game of Thrones whilst travelling on the truck!  Anything to get you through those long drive days…..

Technology Packing List

I had the following for nearly 14 months of travel:

1. MacBook Air (purchased en-route) with Speck hard shell and a padded case

2. iPad Mini with cover

3. iPhone 5 (unlocked) with a sturdy cover

4. Sony X100 with 2 x spare battery and 3 x SD Cards

5. Earphones x 2

6. Backup/external  battery (rarely used, the truck had car chargers we could use and hotel electricity was plentiful) I wouldn’t take again

7. Multi-use USB charger, great for when only one socket is available (or working!) but charging time increases with the number of devices you charge at a time as the load to spread across all devices.  This item means you can also reduce the number of bulky plugs you need to bring as so many items are charged by USB now.

8. Kindle Paperwhite

9. Double USB car charger for use on the truck, again like the USB charger above more than one items means charging time increases.

10. A number of USB sticks – good for backing up some photos or documents in addition to hard drive or moving a film or photos from one laptop to another.

11. Hard Drive x 2 (one for Mac, one for use with a Windows laptop which is where I initially stored all my photos

12. Apple SD card connector: so I could upload photos to my iPad

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Much of the information and advice expressed on this website is the personal opinion of the writer. If you choose to follow any advice you do so at your own risk with no recourse to the writer or Adventures in Overland.

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