Useful Apps


IOverlander – Other travelers knowledge on a map – Navigation
Google Maps – Navigation & route planning
Tom Tom Go – Navigation – My preferred navigation app
Polarsteps – track and share you trip
What3words – Gives precise locations to 1 meter squared. (Find your friend in a crowd or share a remote camp stop)
Google Translate – Translate writing, speech and photo’s into most languages. – Find accommodation
Air B&B – Find accommodation (sometime unique accommodation)
Couch surfing – Accommodation – potentially free
Money Manager – Track your spendings

IOverlander: An offline map that focuses on points of interest.

One of my most used travel apps.

In short it’s an offline map where instead of navigation, it focuses on places of interest.

It’s user driven so that the people who use it can add or update the places of interest themselves.

There’s a large number of different categories but for me I use it most for locating campsites/places to stay and information on border crossings. Its great on those tricky borders where you are unsure of the process or if people managed to get in easy. You simply open up the logo for border control and look down the comments to find what others have said. Sometimes information on what each building looks like, whether you need insurance and where it is, the do’s and do not’s, as well as any potential bribes will be written in the comments.

The fact that is offline is the feature that makes it really stand out since when you enter a new country you have no internet and you will need to find somewhere to stay.

Couple of pointers for IOverlander:

I recommend first using it when you have Internet as the places will load but the map may not. I haven’t been caught out on this but I know its possible so for the first time you use it, zoom in on that country you are going next for the best chances. The second pointer is you can copy co-ordinates once you have found a place and paste it in or another navigation app. It is possible to use the “open with” option to open it with another navigation app but, if like me the default one is not the one you use then the copy co-ordinates option is great. (Takes up little space – potential places to stay and places of interest – saving offroad routes or other peoples routes)

Maps me is great, I use this when I want to save data (or have none) and its a unsupported Tom Tom Go country.

Maps me allows you to download while country maps for very little data. For Example Malaysia for 86MB, it does depend on how many roads are in the country and the country size but I find it very little data for a whole country. It’s definitely gives you a possibility to download a map at any place with wifi in a short period of time.

You can even download GPX and other file formats to download a route. For example if someone has found some good off road tracks this can be sent to you for you to follow.

It also has some accommodation, petrol stations and places to eat on the downloaded maps.

Google maps: adding waypoint and reordering – downloading offline maps.

I use this only for convenience if someone has shared a location with Google maps or to find somewhere easily in a city. Google maps is great for adding way-points to a route.

Using another device to the one you are using google maps on you can save some locations you would like to go to. On your phone or navigation device you can add the final destination in then add stops you are interested in. Once you have them all in there you can reorder the steps so you cn plan your route to however you desire.

You can download maps but the size of the map is much much bigger than For example in where you could download all of Indonesia for 86MB, just downloading Jakarta on Google maps is 580MB.

I don’t like Google for navigation as not only using data, I find the map interface not as good as Tom Tom go or even maps me. When you are getting close to a turning Google Maps seems to Zoom in and change the scale of the map, which I don’t find helpful in then getting the right turning.

Tom Tom Go App: A navigation app with a great user interface.

This is a paid app, you pay for the yearly subscription of around £40 a year.

For me I find it well worth it. You do have to download the maps before you can use it but unlike other navigation software you only pay for the subscription and not each map you download.

Here’s a couple of key features that I find great. First, at a quick glace you can get all the information you need (I find the layout much better than Google maps)and secondly, there’s a time line on the right hand side that tells you how far the next petrol station is or if there are road works. I have been surprised at where it has been able to find fuel stations, it has found it in really remote areas!

It’s not available in every country but I certainly use it as my primary navigation app when it is!

Compared to Google Maps I find the map much easier to read. Google seems to zoom in when you get close to your turning, whereas Tom Tom GO keeps it simple and does not, which makes it easier to get the right turning when you’re in a place with many turnings in one area.

Polar steps: An app which tracks your trip/route and a place for you to record your photos and accounts for that day. It can even be used to create a photo album that can be send to your house so you have your memories in your hand.

I was only introduced to this a couple of months ago!

This is a great app for tracking your route as well as recording your accounts, thoughts and photos for that day.

I haven’t used to create a photo album/physical memory book of your trip but I’ve been told its both very good and easy to do.

For me I mostly use it for accountability of each day and to see where I have been. I think used religiously it could be easily an area for you to blog from. It can be used with other social media sites or shared with family and friends (you can control who can see your data). I personally haven’t used it like this but I think it could be great if you did.

What3words: Precise locations can be shared –

Going onto what3words or using the app allows you accurately share locations down to the exact meter you are standing on. I think this has great potential in all situations where finding a location or person could be hard. Also fun to see what three words you get for your currently location. (nimbleness.transcribing.seaweed for the location that I’m writing this from).

Google Translate: (Translate image live, of a photo, download of language)

Google translate has really been helpful. It has allowed me to have conversations, if it wasn’t for Google translate I’d of been much less connected to those I’ve met.
The the ability to download the languages you need is great. It allows you to access the translations even when you have no data. Another great feature is the ability to use your both camera and gallery also to translate in real time anything written. Find accommodation can be used to find hotels and hostels for when you either need to freshen up on the road, need a bit of luxury or would like to meet like minded people. Also you can get discounts once you have used it a few times.

Air B&B: Useful for finding accommodation and hosts.

I tend to find you can get some unique places to stay with friendly host that can give you a much more in depth stay than if you simply book an hotel.

Couch surfing: Find accommodation and people top hang out with.

Like air B&B but you can expect to pay less and sometimes nothing for people letting you sleep on their couch. I used it a couple of time for accommodation but I found it more useful for meeting people. To meet people, there are a couple of options. First option is “Handouts” which simply says you are available in a certain area and you have one sentence to say what you are looking for. With this option I have not only had great experience but also made friends and explored places that I would otherwise of just glanced over. The second option is under events. This is where people host an event on a certain topic and other people can join in. Again with this I’ve had some really good times and met many people.

Money manager (or similar): Any app to record your spending

A simple app that records your spending can really help you stick to your budget as well as track your costs.

Have an App that I haven’t mentioned? Post it in the comments below

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