Time for some real talk. I resisted the 21st century for a long, long time. I was convinced I’d have the last flip phone in America, and I was proud of it. My super basic, didn’t-even-have-a-camera Samsung phone held on for a whole seven years after the iPhone made its first debut. But when I had to change networks, the time to join the 21st century had come. And now that I know about all the great, free travel apps for digital nomads on the market, I could never go back. These essential Android apps will make any RTW trip or long term travel a million times easier.
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Social Media Apps for Digital Nomads
Whether you travel or not, social media apps probably get the heaviest use on your phone. I keep profiles for my blog on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, but I get the most personal use on my smartphone out of Pinterest. Even if you don’t have a blog to manage on your RTW trip, social media apps can be a huge help in your travels. Ask for recommendations on Facebook, save blog posts to a special board for your trip on Pinterest, or rely on Instagram’s geotagging so you never forget where you snapped a shot. This is all the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social media apps and travel.
Google Apps for Digital Nomads
Here’s another set of apps that are likely already on your home screen. If not, move them over now. Keep confirmation emails for flights, trains and tours in a special folder in Gmail so you can access them easily. Google Maps will obviously be a godsend on any RTW trip, but if you’re concerned about data usage or availability, you can download maps for offline use. These are essential Android apps no matter your lifestyle. Long term travel, however, means you need one more on your home screen for fast access: Google Translate. Many common languages are already stored within the app, but others you’ll need to download in advance. Google Maps and Google Translate are both apps digital nomads should check before arriving in a new destination.
Entertainment Apps for Digital Nomads
When you’re a digital nomad or on a RTW trip, your smartphone isn’t just a lifeline for your online business. Much like it is at home, it can also be a source of much needed entertainment. If you’re traveling on a budget, you’ve gotta fill those long bus rides somehow. Netflix and Spotify both have ways to download shows, movies, and music for offline use. For reading, I use Pocket to save blog posts and articles for offline reading and Scribd for novels and travel guidebooks. You’ll almost certainly also keep your favorite games at the ready – just keep an eye on storage space, battery use and whether you need an online connection.
Accommodations Apps for Digital Nomads
So far, we’ve mostly covered apps you probably already have. There are tons of specific travel apps on the market though, making it possible for you to plan entire legs of your RTW trip using just your smartphone. Hostelworld and Booking.com both have their own apps. Hostelworld is often the first place I check for accommodations.
For longer stays, Airbnb is my go to app. Couchsurfing also has its own app – great for meeting new people and sticking to a shoestring budget. A key component of long term travel is shopping around for accommodations. You’ll often need to compare sources and you’ll probably stay in a variety of types of lodging. I keep all of my accommodations apps in the same row so I can check out all my options at once.
Transportation Apps for Digital Nomads
Like accommodations, all my favorite resources for getting from point A to point B on my travels have their own apps. There are, of course, tons of flight aggregate search engines on the market like Kayak and Expedia. I always keep Kayak on my phone as a backup since it’s fast and easy to use. My preferred search engine for cheap airfare, however, is Skyscanner.
Skyscanner has a few special features that you won’t find on other search engines. You can search flights from your origin to “Everywhere” and find the cheapest routes from your current location. You can also search an entire month for the cheapest dates. One of the best things about travel as a digital nomad is the flexibility. Having an airfare search engine that can work with that flexibility is awesome!
Of course, you don’t fly all the time on a RTW trip. I love Rome2Rio for planning overland travel and for a long time, I thought it didn’t have an app on Android. Turns out it does: Fetch My Way. Despite the vastly different name, it has all the same functionality as Rome2Rio’s desktop site, so you can check bus and train routes, times and estimated costs on the go.
Communication Apps for Digital Nomads
I knew going into my RTW trip that Skype would be essential for keeping in touch with friends and family back home. I didn’t realize right away that I would need more communication apps that aren’t as popular in the United States. Whatsapp and Viber both allow me to easily get in touch with hosts and other locals on the road.
When I don’t need to video chat, I stick to Facebook Messenger. It’s easy to keep a conversation going in the background while I use other apps, and it’s good for shaky WiFi connections as it saves messages written offline and sends them once the connection is back up and running.
Finance Apps for Digital Nomads
One of the biggest differences between vacations and long term travel is the need to manage your finances on the road. I prefer to keep things low tech for tracking my day to day expenses, but for the big picture, you can’t beat Mint. This free tool was crucial in budgeting for my RTW trip before I left. It gathers all your accounts in one place.
A good currency converter belongs on any traveler’s smartphone. I’m a big fan of learning mental shortcuts so you can get a rough estimate of costs without checking the exact conversion, but it’s hard to keep track when you switch currencies frequently. The XE app lets you save currencies to its home page, so you can check the conversion rates quickly no matter where you are.
You may also want to download the specific apps for your banking and credit card accounts so you can keep track of balances and set travel alerts as needed.
Other Essential Android Apps for Travel
The above apps I keep close to my home screen for easy access, but there are tons of other travel apps on the market.
Apps like PackPoint can generate a basic packing list if you’re a last minute planner. (Personally, I prefer to keep an interactive checklist of my RTW packing list in the app ColorNote so I can check each specific item in my pack regularly.)
TravelSafe shows you the emergency numbers for every country in the world. MiVista is also a great safety app, especially for solo female travelers. You can enter your medical information and send out an alert in case of medical emergency. You can snap a photo of your location and send it to your contacts if you get into trouble. Or you can have your friends and family track your path and make sure you get to a destination safely.
MyTSA is great for carry-on travelers. You can double check the rules for carry-ons and make sure you aren’t packing any prohibited items.
Workfrom is one of the best apps for digital nomads on the market. Almost anywhere in the world, you can check for nomad-friendly workspaces near you. From cafes to coworking spaces, you can check out reviews in advance with critical info like how much background noise there is, whether there are outlets for charging your laptop, do they serve food. In some cases, you can even find the WiFi password in advance.
Last but not least, I love the Postagram app. You can turn your own photos into postcards to send home for just 99 cents a pop. It’s much cheaper than buying postcards and shipping them from your destinations, plus they’ll be one of a kind and it’s so easy to keep track of everything from your phone.
What are your favorite travel apps? Tell me in the comments!
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