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10 Essential iPhone Apps to Help You on Your Gap Year

Written by Jenny McWhirter on 04 / 05 / 2023

Gap Year Advice

Hello Leapers,

Zoë here, officially back in the hot seat at Leap HQ aka home sweet home, after my sabbatical where I completed a 5 month round the world trip, with my fiance Ross. Great news - he still wants to marry me. Even better news for you - I have tonnes of tips and useful info to share which will help inform your own travels.

I'm going to start with something I hadn't given much thought to prior to getting on the plane but is actually a really useful one - apps.

In amongst the chaos of packing and remembering enough sun cream to sink a ship there are some super useful apps to get downloaded on your phone before you go - from translation apps to the all important taxi apps for each continent.

Let's get started.

1. Google Maps

Hear me out, yes i know it sounds obvious but it really is genius. We all know it can provide directions - the genius bit is that it is now so advanced that you can type your end destination in and it will tell you the most efficient way of getting there on any means of public transport and how much it will cost. Not just that but it will even tell you the exact train platform you need. This was tried and tested by us in Japan, home of the most advanced rail system and let me tell you that if it works there it will work anywhere and get you exactly where you need to be. It can also be used offline so you can download the area of map you wish (you can do large regions) and then still access it while wandering the streets without internet.

Download here

2. Google Translate

Does exactly what is says on the tin. The clever bit being that you can take a photo on the app and it will bring up an instant translation so simply hover your camera over your menu, traffic sign, ingredients on food etc and it will translate it for you. The only downside is it requires wifi but we will cross that bridge in a minute. You can also use it to type a passage and translate it - handy when checking in to a hotel where you do not speak the language for example. Tried and tested.

Download here

3. Polarsteps

So you've had the techy sensible apps - this one is for those who love journalling/scrap-booking and want to record your adventures. It is the one stop shop for tracking your journey, friends can follow your adventures from the comfort of their own home and read your updates and photos. Once you're back you can then have it all turned into a beautiful book to keep forever. The app is free but you can purchase the photo book if you wish. We found it brilliant for updating family and friends at home without having to communicate on an individual basis.

Download here

4. Booking.com

It is no great surprise that you will be having to figure out where you are staying each night. Booking.com is a winner as they list hostels on there as well so you can really price compare between hostels and hotels, apartments etc. They also offer a loyalty scheme so the more you book the more credits you can use against future bookings.

Download here

5. Taxi Apps

Whichever continent you go to will have a different style of 'Uber'. Go Jek is your one for Indonesia, Grab is your best bet for Asia and Uber for Australia/NZ. Grab can even deliver you your food shopping if you can't pull yourself away from the beaches.

Download Grab here

6. Bookaway

A great app for booking your long car journeys is with Bookaway. Commonly used across Asia we used it to get around on long journey days. They are reasonably priced and will provide you with options to travel by train, bus, mini bus, luxury mini bus - you name it. This is where you are going to book those long sleeper train journeys. One of the advantages of booking it through this app was that you could understand the language and it clearly tells you where to go and which platform etc.

Download here


Now i'm not much of a techie enthusiast but this app is great. It offers a secure way of browsing the internet and when you're connecting to multiple different public wifi options out and about that is only a good thing. It's main advantage was that it hides your IP address so means you can watch TV streaming services abroad - no more Iplayer saying you can't view it while you're not in the UK. This is most useful when you're on a 17h sleeper bus and you find that Disney+ doesn't let you stream in Vietnam. Problem solved.

Download here

8. TV Streaming

It goes without saying that you will need entertainment on your long journeys. Following on from the previous point, you can get downloading all your preferred streaming services an be able to watch them without obstacles. From Iplayer to Disney+, pick your preference.

9. Revolut

The best way to manage your money abroad. Revolut was my app of choice for finances in order to avoid paying constant transaction fees that apply when using your normal debit card. It also gave us cashback on certain purchases and you can even browse accommodation on their 'Stays' section of the app. Other options are Chase Bank, Starling or Monzo.

Download here

10. XE Currency

Trying to remember what currency you’re currently in is hard enough, let alone also having to remember the exchange rate. XE Currency is the go to app for your currency needs quickly converting currencies so you know if you're on budget or not.

Download here

There you have it - 10 apps to make your time away so much easier. You might be thinking 'well i have the app but what do i do about the ones that need wifi'?

My final little gem of knowledge is Maya E-Sim. While this one in particular is not an app - it is going to help you have the data to access the apps while on the go. Putting it simply it is your passport to 4G and 5G access across all your devices on one easy plan. It is all done online so no need to faff about with losing sim cards in the bottom of your bag. Easy Peasy.

Don't forget you can get in contact anytime to questions and help get your plans on the road. You can also browse our full programme options to get you inspired and get the ball rolling.

Let's chat

I love a chat about all things travel. If you have any questions about your own round the world trip or want to know where to start, give me a call.

Contact Zoë

Need inspiration and direction?

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Here at The Leap we can help both team traveller through our programmes and/or the backpacker.

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Yes please, let's keep life simple.