If you are a backpacker, traveller, tourist or whatever you want to call yourself and you haven’t got the app MAPS.ME you are doing it wrong.
We were introduced to this app by a kind Canadian (of course he was kind being Canadian) and we are him forever grateful. We have since told everyone we met about this app and they are generally as happy as us to know about it.
The app is basically a detailed map that works offline with the GPS on your smart phone and doesn’t use any data. Before you go to a particular destination just download the area or the country you are going to. Now you have a wealth of information on your phone for free.
The apps does turn by turn navigation whether on foot walking through Barcelona or driving in a safari park in Namibia. We did in fact drive through Namibia with this and it worked perfectly.
The app has literally saved us a ton of money and time. If for some bizarre reason our phones could only have one app, this would be it whilst travelling.
Once you have the app you can start searching for things in the area that you need
Why we love the app
Arriving to a new city late a night after getting off a plane, bus or train is sometimes a little confusing and can be disorienting. In the past we used to just jump into a taxi, getting charged a ton of money for them to drive us round the corner because we didn’t know the location of where we were going. Now we will locate the accommodation first before we arrive to the new city. We can then make a decision on how far away this place is with MAPS.ME by using the route planner and if we are willing to walk or taxi. This also means that if we decided to take the taxi we know the distance. So when the taxi drivers says, “oh that’s so far away, at least 10km” we can show him that actually it’s only 3km. This helps the negotiating a lot.
Points of interest
Under categories you can search by “sights” and all the point of interest in the area show up. This means that places you had never heard of or a good view-point over the city come up and know you got more things to check out.
Searching for accommodation is brilliant. Type in hotel in the search field and it will show up all the accommodation providers in the area. The app is also linked to booking,com and will show the price rage with a $,$$ oo $$$ and how many stars it has on booking.com however the app also shows with accommodation not on booking.com
You can search ATMs anywhere. This is one of the more useful things for us, especially when backpacking arriving to a new place with no money need to get cash out.
Being a budget traveller means for us to do a lot of cooking for ourselves and finding supermarkets used to be hard, until we found out that you can type in supermarket in the search field and a blue dot will show all the supermarkets in the area.
Planning a route
You can bookmark a particular place by putting a pin in. The best part is that you can edit this bookmark by changing the colour of the pin and adding your own notes. For us this had means when someone says, oh you should really check out that place in the mountains, we can add the notes into the bookmark and the colour code it for later use when we are in the mountains. You can also share your bookmarks with friend either via email or the app.
Contribute to the app
The other good thing is that you can contribute to the open source and help other people with this things not yet on the app. We have don’t this quite a lot when we find an awesome restaurant, cafe or accommodation that isn’t yet on the app and we feel like the world should know about this place.
Other useful apps for travelling:
- Google translate
- Brilliant app for translating a spanish menu to english, To take a photo of the menu and whoopti, its in English (or whatever langues you might prefer)
- Knowing the exchange rate is now always easy also since it changes so much (Thanks Brexit) this is super handy. Being able to have 10 free currencies on there is also perfect when needed to change money on a border crossing and they are trying to charge to a fortune, Show them the real exchange rate and they can’t really argue, even though they still try.
- HostelWorld / Booking.com
- These are great apps for finding accommodation around you or to try to establish that the prices should be in the area.
- Settle up is an app which allows you to add group expenses and “who paid for what”. Once you are ready to settle the accounts it will tell you the most efficient way to pay each other