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15 Essential iPhone Apps to Help You on Your Gap Year

Written by Jenny McWhirter on 23 / 02 / 2016

Gap Year Advice

It’s no longer just enough to have your rucksack packed and ready for your gap year. Now you need to have your smartphone prepared and ready. There’s an array of apps to help you plan your gap year and give that helping hand when you're off on your gap adventures.

From apps that help you budget to ones that turn you into an instant tour guide, there truly is an app for everything. But which ones are the best to help you on your way?

I’ve compiled a list of my top 15 essential apps to ensure you’ve downloaded before you head off abroad.


Download | Price: Free

A great app to cover all your flight needs. They compare thousands of airlines and provide you with a list of the best deals out there. Whether you’re looking for flights before you leave or have decided to fly on to Thailand after a great trip round Cambodia, this app is easy to use and guaranteed to get you a bargain.


Download | Price: Free

You’ve booked an amazing multi-part trip for the 8 months you have to travel on your gap year. But how are you going to remember exactly where you’ve booked when and all those different flight departures?

TripIt has your back. This app acts as an itinerary builder that keeps everything in one place, from hostel bookings to flights and it will even store your travel documents.

When you’re unsure what you’re doing tomorrow just open up TripIt and it will all be there for you. Nice and Simple!


Download | Price: Free

Now many of you probably already have this great app that is making texts redundant. It is the perfect travel companion. When your parents and friends are wanting to know what you’re up to, the last thing you want is to have to spend your limited finances on keeping them updated.

WhatsApp allows you to text and call for free using a wifi connection. Parents happy, friends updated and bank account still healthy – don’t leave without it.


Download | Price: Free

This app is not downloaded for it’s cool features but it may be one of the most important apps to make sure you keep updated.

It stands for In Case of Emergency. Whilst travelling, seeking adventure and new cultures is top on your priority list I’m sure but safety should come first. This app allows you to upload emergency contact details and basic health details.

Whilst we all hope that we never have to use this app, it is extremely helpful should you be found injured. The emergency services can easily access this information without you having to make the effort.

As I say, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

XE Currency

Download | Price: Free

You’ve travelled to 5 countries in the past 5 months, trying to remember what currency you’re currently in is hard enough, let alone also having to remember the exchange rate.

XE Currency is my go to app for all money help. It quickly converts currencies so I can work out exactly how expensive something is or how much I have to spend in my new country.


Download | Price: Free

Whilst we are on money, SpendingTracker is a must-have to help you stay on budget.

There’s nothing worse than running out of money before your adventures have finished. The best way to ensure that your money lasts is to set a budget – if you remember from last week, it also reduces arguments with your travel buddy.

SpendingTracker is a simple and effective way to keep a log of what you’re spending and what you have left. With nice easy visuals to allow you to quickly see how you’re doing, to more in-depth break downs of what you’ve spent. This app will keep you on track.

If saving money or being low on time is a consideration for you, take a look at the latest addition to our gap year programs, 4 Weeks in Madagascar: Forest Conservation + Island Hopping + Teaching, where you can spend 4 weeks in the beautiful surroundings of Madagascar. It's still packed full of amazing experiences, and all within a single month...

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Download | Price: Free

Probably my most used app whilst I am travelling. Hostelworld is my go to for all my hostel needs. Once I’ve decided where I’m headed or even turned up that day and don’t have anywhere to stay, Hostelworld shows me all the best deals around.

The app easily locates where you are and offers you the best options, with images and easy-to-read details so you’ll know exactly what to expect.

If you’re booking ahead, you’ll be able to type in your location and find the best places there. It will even provide you with a map so you’ll know how to get there and what’s nearby.


Download | Price: Free

Pinterest for backpackers. Trover is full of stunning images of places all over the world. What makes it better than Pinterest is there are no stock images, all images have been taken by backpackers.

Type in your location or where you are hoping to head to and flick through the photos available. Find a photo you love, click on it and it will tell you where it was taken.

You can save it for later and even ask fellow backpackers about the local area, how to get the best photographs and what other attractions they recommend. Who needs a guidebook?

Google Goggles

Download | Price: Free

You have Trover to search for places nearby but what about when you are out and about and want to know what it is you are actually looking at?

Those family holidays when your parents have dragged you round endless museums, galleries and famous monuments might have bored you to sleep. However, when you are on your own you don’t want to have to take a guided tour but it’s interesting to know what’s around you.

Impress your new found travel friends with Google Goggles, point your camera lens at a famous monument and it will tell you what it is and a little information about it.

What better way to become your own tour guide and wow your new buddies than being able to shed light on exactly what it is you’re looking at.


Download | Price: Free

While you’re abroad it’s always nice to be able to keep people back home up-to-date with your latest explorations. Whilst WhatsApp helps with the regular updates, TouchNote is here to make postcard sending much easier.

Whilst I travelled I aimed to send postcards to friends and family from the different places I visited but when you have to buy the postcard, the stamp, take time to write it and then find a postbox, the money and effort meant that it didn’t get done.

TouchNote takes the hassle out of the postcard experience. Snap a photo with your phone, upload it, write a short message and then attach the address and they’ll do the rest.

For just £1.49 per postcard you’ll be able to send those gorgeous panoramas back home and earn some brownie points with your nearest and dearest.

So many of the apps that I have already recommended require internet and the last thing you want is horrible roaming charges tagged on to your phone bill. Using the apps at the hostel is a good way to avoid this. But what about when you’re out and about?


Download | Price: Free

When you need the internet on the move, whether it’s trying to figure out where you are or trying to find a close-by restaurant when you’re ravenous, I don’t suggest using data roaming.

Instead this little app gives you a helping hand by finding the closest Wi-Fi connection. No more roaming charges but great access to the internet to brag about your gap year.

Google Translate

Download | Price: Free

The goal is always to learn a little of the local lingo before you go – check out my blog on how to learn a language – however when you’re making several stops you may not know everything you need to for all situations.

Google translate is on hand to help you out. The app makes it really simple to translate phrases into your new language and if you are really struggling it will also say them for you, so need to fiddle with pronunciation.

Suddenly buying that excursion you’ve been dreaming off, is easy and simple.

Google Maps

Download | Price: Free

The final of the google trio. Without this app, I literally and metaphorically would be lost!

It has guided me through many a road trip, city exploration and mission to find the best burritos in San Diego.

If you know where your destination is but not sure how to get there google maps is there to help you out. It also provides suggestions if you haven’t decided on destination.

Maybe it’s early evening and after a day exploring you’re looking for a quick bite to eat, you can search for restaurants and Google Maps will provide you with the nearest suggestions.


Download | Price: Free

Whilst Google Maps does provide a local list of restaurants it’s not so useful for reviews and ratings of the local attractions. This is where TouristEye comes in handy.

Type in your desired location and it will provide you with an easy-to-read guide of the area. You’ll be able to pick up the best places to visit, eat at, drink and even the best dishes the area offers.

Each place will also come with lots of reviews from locals and fellow travellers to ensure that you can pick the best of what is available.

You can even download these guides so they are available offline when you’re out exploring.

Now last but certainly not least...

RoughGuide TripLens

Download | Price: Free

All my other suggestions have made your reservations, planning and getting around easier. This one makes it super easy for you to brag.

It’s a great idea to write a blog of your travels to remember those classic moments, your thoughts and feelings, all the places you visit and as something you will have for years to come.

The only problem with keeping a blog is it can be time consuming and with all the fun things going on, it’s easy to forget to keep up-to-date.

This little app makes recording those travel moments, thoughts, sights and places easy. You can upload photos, text and maps (it locates you on the map for you!). You can then share these in a blog style post right from your phone.

It couldn’t be easier to note down where you are and what you’re seeing and in years to come you’ll thank yourself.

Now Your Phone Is Packed Right

So there we have it, 15 apps that will ensure you are sorted abroad. You will have everything in one place and be able to easily check itineraries, pubs, bars and update the family.

And if you haven’t already noticed all of them were FREE, yes you don’t have to fork out any money to have these useful aids straight onto your phone. So what are you waiting for?

Is there an app that isn’t here which has helped you? I’d love to hear about it and so would fellow travellers out there. Share it with us in the comments below.

Your phone is now ready to head off but are you?!

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