6 Must-Have Apps For The Solo Traveller
There’s no greater thrill than travelling solo letting your feet take you wherever your heart desires. Solo travel gives you the freedom to plan your own itinerary. But if you need a little bit of help there are many apps that you can download on your smartphone. From incredible audio guides to intuitive safety apps, here are some 6 must-have apps for the solo traveller.
All the featured apps are free to download for Android and iOS, though bookings and some guides may be chargeable.
Coming back to an empty hotel room after a day of solo exploration can get a bit boring. Besides, hotels usually offer a very standard experience without much sense of a place. This is where Airbnb scores giving you your ‘own’ place, whether it’s a private room in a host’s home or an entire apartment to yourself. Many Airbnb homes come with fully-equipped kitchens, so you can cook your own food and avoid spending on restaurants. Many apartments also include a washing machine – free laundry without paying the exorbitant hotel rates!
If you choose to rent a private room, you will share the home with your host. S/he is in the best position to give you tips that will transform your trip into a more personal experience. Read about my Airbnb experience in Dublin where the hosts really made me feel at home. (Of course, when my husband and I travel together, we prefer to rent an entire apartment. Read about our experiences in Ortigia and Florence).
Airbnb also offers curated activities with a host allowing you to truly explore a destination ‘like a local’. So sign up and as Airbnb says, “Live There“. Get started with this Rs. 1,200 ($20) credit for your first Airbnb booking! Just use my invite code.
Ever visit a monument and wonder about its history? Usually, most points of interest in India are accompanied by a cursory plaque or a tour guide spinning a yarn. But destinations are about stories, and AudioCompass’s beautifully produced audio guides go a long way towards bringing these stories to life. Whether it’s the mesmerising temples and monuments of Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) or the monasteries of Ladakh, AudioCompass has an interesting audio guide to accompany your travels. The app covers more than 1,000 points of interest across India. It is also the official audio tour partner of the Ministry of Tourism for UNESCO heritage sites such as the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. The guides range from 30-90 minutes and you can listen to them at your own pace. You can even download the guide and listen to it offline.
Want to travel solo to a destination but confused by the sheer volume of information online? Or perhaps you’re heading to an offbeat place and can’t seem to find any travel tips. Download the Tripoto app to tap into a global community of travellers. Here you can discover trips shared by real travellers. There’s everything from weekend breaks to road trips and from backpacking to cycling holidays. The app has an extensive library of trips and itineraries for India, from Ladakh to Kerala, and everywhere in between. Tripoto also has a collection of recommended hotels, homestays, resorts, and B&Bs to match every budget. You can book directly through the app so that all your trip details are available in one place. Once you’re done with your trip, upload your trip experiences or publish a trip video to help other solo travellers.
Safety is a prime consideration when you’re travelling by yourself, and more so if you are a solo woman traveller. Apart from basic precautions such as being aware of your surroundings, dressing modestly, and keeping local emergency contacts on hand, it always helps to have a personal safety app on your smartphone. Smart 24X7 is one of the best apps for solo travellers. You create a list of 5 emergency contacts beforehand. When you are in an unsafe situation, generate a ‘panic alert’ by pressing the panic button on the app or by pressing the power button thrice. Once the alert is generated, your emergency contacts are immediately informed. The information also goes to the Smart 24X7 call centre as well as to the local police who will be alerted to your real-time location.
The solo travel route can sometimes get a bit lonely. There are days when you want to share your experiences with a fellow traveller, even if s/he may be a stranger. That’s where an app like We Travel Solo comes in handy. You can easily connect with other solo travellers who may be travelling to your destination. Even if you may not want to travel together, you can catch up with them at the end of a day to compare notes or even for an evening of revelry! It always helps to know that there’s a like-minded person whom you can connect with when you feel the need for some company. The app also creates a community of fellow solo travellers where you can share photos, videos, and travel stories.
Culinary travel is a big trend these days and people are now more open to trying local foods when they travel. And often, the best local food is in people’s homes. You can’t very well ring a stranger’s doorbell and invite yourself in for a meal, but VizEat lets you do just that! Simply key in your destination and dates of travel and the app will give you a list of hosts. You can also choose to take a cooking class or go on a food tour around the city.
Feast on a sumptuous daal-baati-churma meal in Ajmer or go on a food walk in the by-lanes of Amritsar, or even try your hand at making a Madhubani painting while you gorge on Indian street food in a Delhi home. You’re guaranteed a more authentic experience than any restaurant could offer. It’s also a great way of meeting locals and other travellers, especially when you’re going solo. The app offers food experiences in 110 countries. Browse through the food section of the blog to discover more culinary delights around the world.
Here are some more apps for the solo traveller that you absolutely can’t do without:
- Google Maps – let’s face it, we would all be lost without this one! Apart from getting from point A to B, its powerful search functionality helps you find interesting things to do near you.
- Google Translate – speaking a few words of the language is the best way to score brownie points with the locals. Use this app to learn useful conversational words beforehand as well as to translate on the go.
- XE – find out how much your rupees are worth when you travel abroad with XE’s real-time currency conversion app.
- Hopper – find the cheapest airfare with this app, which also tells you when is the best time to buy the ticket.
- TripAdvisor – find the best hotel for your trip based on user reviews; you can also book from within the app.
So which are your favourite apps for the solo traveller? Leave us a comment below.
This article was commissioned by Jet Airways’ Jet Wings magazine and was published in their September 2017 issue. Read it here.