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Friday

30

Nov 2012

I was travelling across South East Asian countries from end of October to mid of November and it was a wonderful backpack trip with my close buddies. We travelled light and not much of detailed planning was involved. Over 3 weeks we covered Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia without much hassle on a shoestring budget (“shoestring” was our key objective).

Here are some of the applications that helped us have a smooth trip.

  1. Google Maps helped us locate the destination and GPS was very useful to reach most places. We decided  will take tour guides only in exceptional cases and wanted to explore as much as possible ourselves. To ask directions in a country without knowing the local language was a tough task and google maps in our smart phone was a handy tool.  This enabled us to schedule our trekking in an effective way.
  2. Staying in a budget hotel with decent accommodation was a concern until we discovered Hostel World. This site helped us book rooms (Hostels) near our destination and their apps was very user-friendly. We used this app to book hostels while travelling. There are many apps along similar lines and a recommended one is  Hostelling International – www.hihostels.com .   Try out the apps and then decide which one you prefer as both have good range of hostels across world.
  3. To know the local currency and the purchasing power of your own currency is  a must. We used apps of www.xe.com  which was quite easy to use. Though carrying US dollar was good to get a great exchange rate, we still did lot of comparison with Indian rupee in these countries while purchasing. This gave us a better idea of cost of living and helped us to make some quick decisions. This app helped us to get better rate with local money exchangers who otherwise would take us for a ride.
  4. What to see in each destination is always a dilemma for travellers. We had Lonely planet apps and I recommend this. It has every tiny detail required for a traveller including where to have food, what to try in the city, timings of attractions and so on. Well, it was much more helpful than Google maps with the preloaded maps which use GPS. So when you reach a destination, it pops up with suggestions and also it has a preloaded itinerary to follow. If you want to plan it yourself and explore at your own pace, you can actually get details of each place in the app. Recommend having this in your smart phone.
  5.  Specific Apps  “Angkor “ for  trip in Angkor Wat in Cambodia. This app was quite helpful for a historical place like Angkor Wat. It helped us navigate through the highlights and was more detailed than Lonely planet. But I would still suggest  to taking a guide here to get to know the finer details and interesting stories.
  6. Online forums were a great platform to take advice and tips from other experienced travellers. We did lot of research and joined couple of forums to clear our doubts. We relied on www.travelfish.org  and becoming a member in couch surfing helps to get you accommodation in these places. Many dedicated online forums can help you get connected and plan well for the trip.

On the area of photography, Instagram was very useful and fun to use. Regular updates with some captured moments in this apps, gives your friends updates on Facebook.  While I am writing this more smart apps might have been released and many more in the making. To travel around the world, you need a smart phone with relevant apps and just a little bit of starting capital!

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