Best Apps for Backpackers in Europe

Euro banknotes and coins


Backpacking in Europe has become a rite of passage. Few self-respecting college graduates have gone without some trip to the old-country; to see where history was born and to find out about the world. Unfortunately, few backpackers go with enough foresight to prepare for a world that is wholly different than the U.S. They think that with a smartphone, or tablet or netbook, that they will be fine but the truth is they won’t be, unless those smart devices are outfitted with the best that technology has to offer.

Currency Converter
Currency converters, like “HiConverter”, are essential when traveling abroad. Not knowing the exact rate of exchange can severely damage your budget in a hurry. Being uninformed almost never ends up with you having more money in your bank account than you intended. Get a currency converter app that works even when you’re not connected to WIFI, using the latest known rate as a substitute.

Walking Maps
Walking maps are highly detailed city maps that make it possible for you to get around with some semblance of confidence. Apps like “Free City Maps and Walks” are great for finding your way back to your hostel or to a specific tourist destination.

Sure, you could buy several pocket dictionaries, one for each country in Europe you planned to visit. But, having an app for all those countries sounds much easier. Apps like “Jibbigo” and “Google Translate” are life savers in awkward “lost in translation situations”. The main difference? “Jibbigo” doesn’t need an internet connection to work. “Google Translate” does.

Train Schedule
In Europe, the train is everything. Nearly all backpackers have some sort of Eurail pass and so the train schedule becomes your life schedule. To make everything easier, you should definitely invest in a good rail app. Something like “iRail European Rail Timetables” will provide you with the necessary information to make last minute train reservations.

This article was meant to provide non-brand specific advice for the best “type” of apps for the traveler. But, Skype is an exception. Skype is possibly the biggest advance in communication technology in the last several years, for travelers at least. If you have the Skype app on your phone and you have a WIFI connection, you can make free calls—including video calls—to anyone in the world that also has Skype. The best part? Skype to Skype calls are free.

RFID Blocking Wallet
Your mobile device is like a treasure chest for thieves containing all sorts of random valuables that can be stolen.  Your CC or bank account information is just the beginning; imagine what a thief could do with your password to Facebook (which is very likely to be your password to other sites).  Or your social security number.  Or how about even your name address, and date of birth.  Invest a few dollars in an RFID protector for your iPad, wallet, or whatever else device carries secure information, and ensure that you frustrate even the smartest and most technical savvy of thieves.

By Patrick Hutchison