Technological advancements have made it easier than ever to embrace the backpacker lifestyle, with gap years and jaunts around Southeast Asia becoming more and more common. Traveling with minimal luggage and plans ignites spontaneity, breeding one-of-a-kind cultural experiences. Quell any worries about logistics or making friends with these digital travel companions.
Book a bed with a tap of your finger! Hostelworld’s app is the most comprehensive and widely used of all budget accommodation apps, with thousands of spontaneous lodging options and millions of reviews from fellow backpackers.
I loved that it displayed ratings for cleanliness, value for money, safety, location, atmosphere and more. As a solo traveler, I paid the closest attention to “staff” and “atmosphere,” searching for places that would feel like a second home. With just a few taps, you can scroll through photos, reviews, and hostel details. The app makes it simple to choose which type of room you’d like, whether it’s a 6-bunk, 10-bunk, gender-specific or private room.
INSIDER TIPS: if a hostel is overbooked, there still might be a bed in the female-only room. If a hostel is under-booked, you may be more likely to score more privacy and open bunks in the dorm with the most beds. Lastly, there’s a possibility of saving a few bucks if you use Hostelworld to browse hostels—then contact the hostel through Facebook Messenger or email to see if they’ll give you a discount for booking directly through them.
As a backpacker, part of the fun is doing things the rugged way. Overnight buses and shared bathrooms are fabulous places to make friends, as bonding over the hilariously horrible conditions happens naturally. Through sites like Rome2rio, I found that the cheapest route from point A to B generally involved several legs–a bus to a train to a boat to a bus is typical, especially in South America and Southern Asia.
All of these chaotic connections mean that your baggage might get lost along the way. For peace of mind, secure the eBags Connected Luggage Tag on your backpack. If someone finds it, they can scan the QR code or visit its URL to get it back to you—wherever you might be! The tag’s cloud technology lets you update your contact info on the bag in real time, just in case you’re switching between SIM cards and phone numbers.
The best cure for a 22-hour bus ride or crowded flight is a cold local brew. But what’s the hottest watering hole? And how do you avoid drinking alone? Untappd has your back! It’s essentially Yelp for beer, boasting reviews and a social aspect so you can find fellow thirsty travelers. If you’re not jazzed about beer, Jetzy is a similar app with a focus on meeting up for meals and hanging out with nearby travelers.
I’m not going to lie: it was hard to say goodbye to my trusty laptop when I took off for Southeast Asia. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life with my MacBook, but I knew it was a liability to carry in my backpack: too heavy, fragile and valuable. But I also knew a smartphone wouldn’t cut it.
Like many long-term backpackers, I worked and blogged abroad to sustain myself. If this idea appeals to you, Workaway.info is a fantastic resource for finding odd jobs abroad, from conserving Australian wildlife to being an au pair in France. I blogged in a few island nations, where I relied on my lightweight Samsung tablet to work and book travel details on the go. Bonus benefit: when my workday was over, I could read in my bunk bed without using a light and disturbing other travelers.
Travel guidebooks are nice. They’re also very heavy. When you’re carrying your life on your shoulders for months on end, every pound matters. Get the 411 on new places via apps like TripAdvisor and Findery. TripAdvisor is excellent for details and reviews pertaining to attractions and places (learn more about eBags’ new partnership with them here), whereas Findery focuses on under-the-radar gems.
Findery functions like a modern-day treasure map, one where a social network of locals and travelers can add stories and tips to points on a map. If you’re hoping to break away from “basic” Instagrams, then get lost with Findery.
Not many cameras could travel around the world and return unscathed. This camera is monsoon-proof, child-proof, monkey-proof—you name it, this camera can take it. In addition to its cute size and bright-blue color, I’m obsessed with Canon point-and-shoot cameras because they bring out the best in faces and nature alike.
The Canon PowerShot D30 camera captures all the amazing diversity of the journey—from the world above the clouds in the Himalayas to the life below the Indian seas to local color at the pub. It’s always wise to travel with a camera in addition to a phone, so you can keep your phone tucked away and back up your memories on a memory card which will stand the test of time.
Now that you’ve covered your bases, go for a run around the world. There’s no better time than now, especially with the wealth of resources at your fingertips and inside your backpack. These tech travel buddies let you make the most of your precious time on the road.
Annie’s based in Los Angeles but hails from Portland, Oregon. Sort of. She moved to six states by the time she reached middle school, and continues to move around the US and abroad – call her a nomad, but she prefers “Location ADHD.” After studying abroad in New Zealand, Annie circled the globe, graduated from USC, and circled the world once again. For one year she lived out of a backpack everywhere from The Philippines to Nepal to Slovenia to Norway. She’s a curry connoisseur and passionate explorer, taking the road less traveled, the “trail” covered in vines and swarmed in exotic bugs. Foreign lands feel like home, and Annie loves encouraging more and more people to utilize their passports and experience a new culture.