Posted by Lauren Dezenski 15 November 2013
5 best apps for the offline traveller
For those of us who are slaves to our smartphones, travelling to foreign countries with your phone can pose some serious challenges.
Say you’re like me this past weekend in Barcelona. I wasn’t interested in forking over the 45p my UK-based pay-as-you-go SIM provider charges for every bit of data used outside the kingdom, so I was faced with a daunting prospect: offline travel. No more Google Maps for this millennial – the weekend was going to be dead tree-led and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.
Or so I thought.
Enter: offline apps. These beautiful, beautiful creations work even when you’re not connected to Wi-Fi or a data network. While I’d only ever thought of offline apps as things like games – I’ve had many a boring flight saved by Fruit Ninja and Flow – there’s a wealth of apps out there to help you navigate the carrers in many a foreign land – without Wi-Fi.
So here are my favourite five: the best apps for travel that work offline.
A shout out to my friend and travel partner who gave me the heads up on this app. It’s free and super easy to use: simply forward all of your confirmation emails to the app and Tripcase will compile all the parts of your trip in one accessible, convenient place.
It’s like Apple’s Passbook on crack (in the best possible way). Creating an account is easy – especially if you sync with Facebook – as is creating trips, which can be done simply by forwarding booking confirmation emails to the Tripcase email address. This is especially handy for multi-leg trips.
Be aware that user reviews posted on iTunes have said they can’t edit some of the entries once they’ve been input, for instance, adding seat numbers to flights.
City Maps 2Go
If you’re trying to pinch pennies and balking at the iOS version's £1.49 price tag, don’t. This app, designed for both the iPhone, iPad and Android, not only functions as a map, but also a travel guide synced with Wikipedia – all which operate off-line. You have the option to download 6,700 different maps, meaning this app will take you most anywhere you want to go in the world.
Price: Free, Google Play; £1.49, Apple App Store
This may sound a bit strange, but hang with me for a sec. This app is best for those prone to preparation, mainly because you can use Google Translate on your computer to translate key phrases and then save them into the ‘phrasebook’, which can be exported to Google Spreadsheets and shared in your Google Docs. You can then access your Google Docs from your phone's Google Drive at any time, regardless of your Wi-Fi or data connectivity.
It’s nothing fancy, but nonetheless a good way to learn your holas from your adioses.
Okay. I admit it. Sometimes you just can’t go without Wi-Fi. So when you’re perusing La Boqueria and decide that Instagram just can’t wait to be posted any longer, this app is perfect.
Just be sure to download the app and download the offline Wi-Fi finder before you actually set out into the data-less wilderness. That’ll make sure an offline database is loaded onto your phone, ensuring you’ll be able to find public Wi-Fi from one of 545,000 hotspots across 144 countries.
Compass & Clock
When in foreign countries, I have absolutely no sense of direction, even if a map is involved.
Luckily, the compass app native to your smartphone should at least get you sorted with which way is north or south. This goes hand-in-hand with the alarms and world clock features in the native Clock app. They’re entry-level, but you’d be quite lost without them.
Available on: All iPhones and many Androids have these features pre-installed
Don't run out of power
All of this being said, don’t forget your charger. If you thought your smartphone was useless without Wi-Fi and data, it’s just a glorified paperweight if that battery’s dead.
See also: think your high-tech bag will protect you from thieves while travelling? It turns out it’s just another thing to steal. Read our guide to keeping your kit safe while travelling.