6 Free Helpful Apps for Travelers

Six Apps to Make Your Travel Life Easier >> Life In Limbo

Travel goes hand-in-hand with uncertainty. Every day you’re traveling, you’re bound to encounter problems you didn’t foresee, which will require creative ideas to solve. There’s no way around the fact that traveling is fraught with changes of plan and a lot of unknowns. But there are ways to make this process easier on yourself when the inevitable issues do arise, and one way is to embrace the magic of technology. We all know how much power and utility are now packed into a device that fits into the palm of our hand. The key is to harness this power in a way that serves you the best. There are countless free apps on the market now which can help make your travel process a whole lot smoother and easier to deal with. Here are my top six recommendations for apps that will make a huge difference while you’re traveling.

Ulmon Guides: City Maps 2 Go

These are far and away my favourite apps for travel. They are comprehensive off-line city maps for most major cities worldwide. The compass function allows you to navigate the city in real time without an Internet connection, a tool that has saved me so much of both time and money. The app often also has the city’s metro system embedded within its map, as well as the descriptions and locations of all major tourist attractions in the area. In fact, there’s not much you can’t search within these apps. They are a very valuable resource for any traveler.

Six Apps to Make Your Travel Life Easier >> Life In Limbo

ICOON Picture Dictionary

Truthfully, I didn’t use this app very much on my trip to Europe, But that could have been because I was mostly traveling through cities that get a lot of tourism and thus have a fairly good grasp of English. However, as I start to plan my travels in Southeast Asia, I can see this app coming in handy a lot more often. It is in essence a digital version of a Point-It dictionary with pictures of lots of things you might find the need to ask for such as bathrooms, a telephone, or where you can get the best massage in the city. If you’re going somewhere with a language barrier, this could be a lifesaver.

Oanda Currency Converter

This is the app I use to check exchange rates wherever I am. If you don’t have an Internet connection it will tell you that you need one, but in my experience you are able to search off-line, if not with the most real time exchange rate available. There are some currencies I have found difficult to calculate in my head (some coming to mind are the Croatian Kuna, the Japanese Yen, and even the British pound) which makes an app like this tremendously helpful.

Kayak or Momondo

When I was traveling through Europe last year I didn’t know about Momondo so I was using Kayak exclusively to search for cheap flights. I’ve recently fallen in love with the former though, and will probably be using it more often in the future. Both apps scour the Internet to find you the cheapest flight deals to where you want to go. Momondo has a great feature where it will also show you an overall quality score for each flight which combines both price and length of flight.

Six Apps to Make Your Travel Life Easier >> Life In Limbo


For most of my trip last year, I didn’t know there was a Hostelworld app, and so made all of my bookings online through their website. Hostelworld has always been my site of choice for booking hostels because I find it the easiest to use and that it has the best reviews from other travelers. Their app is easy to use and very straightforward to check reviews and book.

Google Apps

Okay this is more than just one app but these products are so good they’re worth a mention just in case for some reason you don’t have them installed already. When I have an Internet connection I like to use Google Maps, as it tends to know the locations of most of the things I am trying to find even if they’re small businesses or restaurants. If I know I won’t have Internet when I’m navigating the city the next day I’ll usually take a screenshot of the location and then try to compare it to my current location shown on one of my Ulmon maps or in a pre-loaded Google map. I keep all my important travel documents as well as my massive trip spreadsheet stored in the cloud on Google Drive, and can access and edit them from the Docs or Sheets apps. And Google Translate is my service of choice for asking questions in another language, although you do need the Internet to use it.

Honorable Mention:

Rick Steves Audio Europe: Guided audio tours of many interesting historical tourist spots in Europe, including museums. I listened to a lot for Italy, including the Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica, and the Roman Forum. The guides are really interesting and totally free.


These apps have really smoothed out some of the inevitable kinks I’ve encountered while travelling. They’ve kept me from getting lost in Tokyo and spending too much money in London. They’ve helped me keep track of restaurant recommendations in Amsterdam from fellow travellers and book good, cheap accommodation on the spot.

What’s a great travel app that you would recommend? What was a time that technology has saved you some time or money on your travels?

Resources for Planning Your Backpacking Trip Through Europe

Resources1It’s I’ve learned a lot about booking hostels, navigating new cities, making friends, and packing. I’m happy to say that I’m a much better traveller than I was one year ago today. My travel knowledge has come from a lot of trial and error, a lot of great information from fellow travellers and friends, and most of all, a lot of awesome resources. I’m very Type A and a planner by nature, and I love nothing more than falling down rabbit holes on the internet while researching various things. My Google Docs spreadsheet for Europe had no less than eleven different sheets!

I wanted to share some of my favourite websites and articles to inspire you and help you plan an adventure of your own.

Inspiration For Your Trip

DSC_0036_7Almost Fearless:

Adventurous Kate:

General Travel Tips

Legal Nomads: World Travel Resources – an incredibly helpful, very comprehensive guide to world travel.

Rick Steves: His travel tips section is full of great, very useful information.

Yes and Yes: There are tons of awesome posts in her travel category including 18 super-helpful travel tips.

The Savvy Backpacker: Lots of great articles and resources for planning a budget backpacking trip.

Nomadic Matt: How to Legally Stay in Europe for More Than 90 Days (a very helpful article about visas and permitted lengths of stay).

Packing for Europe & Travelling Light

DSC_0149One Bag: The absolute ultimate light packing guide. It has tips on why packing light is a smart choice, a universal light packing list with detailed, and in-depth explanations of why each item on the list is helpful or important. I lost hours to this website.

One Bag One World: Forums and tips on travelling light. I love the old website, but the new one is good too. You can find the new one here.

Her Packing List: Awesome packing lists, backpack and product reviews and resources.

PB Fingers: What To Pack To Europe (aimed at women, for summer travel)

Rick Steves: A light packing list and tips on packing smart and travelling light.

Never Ending Voyage: How to travel long-term with carry-on luggage, and their complete, updated packing list.


Ulmon Apps: The ultimate travel app for most major cities. It lets you navigate in real time even without an internet connection, lists all major attractions within the app and sometimes even has integration with the local subway system so you can see which metro stop to get off at for wherever you’re going. I absolutely adore these apps and they are my #1 recommended travel tip. Plus, somehow they’re free.

Hostel World: I love this website and never used anything else to read reviews of hostels and book my accomodations.

Blogsy: A blogging app for iPad, perfect for blogging while travelling.

Oanda Currency: An awesome currency converter app that you can use even when you have no internet connection.

Solo Travel

DSC_0164_2Twenty-Something Travel: The Introvert’s Guide to Travel, and a good reason to travel solo.

Refinery 29: I Travel to Feel Lonely…On Purpose – a really great, fresh perspective on solo travel.

Legal Nomads: The Solo Female Travel Experience, and the same topic, revisited with helpful tips.

Fluent in 3 Months: Is Long-Term Solo Travel Lonely?

A Little Adrift: Yes, Sometimes Travel Is Lonely.

The Ramble: Awesome advice if you’re worried about getting lonely while travelling.

European Destinations



Croatia: 15 Things To Do in Dubrovnik


Taking myself on a trip through Europe is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I was able to see some of the most beautiful places in the world, meet some awesome people, and most of all gain lots of confidence for both travelling and living the life I want to live. I’d recommend it to anyone. You don’t need a travel partner, you don’t need to be ready, everything is figureoutable, you can do this. It’s almost a year later but the experiences I had on my trip are still giving back to me in ways I never could have predicted.

This is a very incomplete list of resources, of course. I’ll try to add more as I remember them or as questions come up. If you have any specific questions about my trip, check out my FAQs, my posts on tips for travelling through Europe and for doing it solo, or send me an email at stephanie @ lifeinlimbo.org.

Thanks for reading. Good luck and have fun on your trip!

Seoul, Korea


It was a four-day weekend here in Korea, in honour of Children's Day and Buddha's Birthday, and I spent it in Seoul with friends. After our trip to Tokyo (a vibrant, colourful blur) I was a bit tired and was sorely tempted to stay home, watch TV and decompress. Fortunately I didn't, and those three days away were exactly the kind of break I needed.

Since I'm living in Korea for a year, I knew I'd probably be going back to Seoul a few more times and that took the pressure off. There was no rushing around trying to get everything checked off the bucket list. There was no agonizing over where to go and how much time to spend there. There was no real stress of any kind, except for the last mad dash to the train station and boarding the train back to Busan with two minutes to spare.

Instead, there were long talks about life on the sundrenched four hour train ride there and back. There was meandering down the streets of bustling shopping districts eating street food and ice cream. There was delicious food – Korean and Mexican in the same day. There was an afternoon spent roaming the grounds of a gorgeous palace. There was a full day spent with a girl I met while travelling alone through Madrid so many months ago. She showed us around her favourite parts of Seoul, took us for some of the best Korean food I've ever had, and happily, we got along as well as we had in Spain during the few days we spent together then.

And there was more! I had my birth chart read by a local tarot card reader. We hid from the rain in a cafe bordering the stream that cuts through downtown Seoul and drank hot sweet tea. I had iced mochaccinos every morning and soju mixed with Sprite in plastic cups every night. We wandered around the university district enjoying its lively energy, watching people boxing and others playing music side-by-side in the little park in the middle of it all. There were so many times we laughed until we cried.

I came home feeling recharged, not drained. I felt (and still feel!) blissed out and happy, alive and connected. It reminded me of how incredibly lucky I am to have this opportunity to live and work in another country, and to explore and experience such amazing parts of the world. It also reminded me not to take any of it for granted. Life is good.


  • Juno Guesthouse: While the facilities were nothing to write home about, it was in a quiet area and very close to a subway stop on one of the major train lines. But most of all, it had an absolutely incredible welcoming committee: a beautiful little Korean Jindo dog that brightened our day every time we left or came back to the hostel.
  • Vatos Urban Tacos: This restaurant in Itaewon made us feel immediately like we weren't in Korea anymore. Not that there's anything wrong with Korea, but it just made us feel transported to somewhere completely different. Amazing margaritas, perfect tacos, delicious salsa, some queso dip – we were in heaven.
  • Ssamziegil (in Insadong): We all agreed that walking through this shopping area (shown in the fifth picture from the top) felt like walking through Etsy brought to life. There were tons of stores selling adorable handmade or unique things like jewelry, stationery, and soaps.
  • Gwanghwamun Square: A gorgeous, open plaza leading to the gates of the Gyeongbokgung palace (another of our favourites). It's right in the middle of Seoul, framed by mountains behind, and is positively gorgeous.

Tokyo, Japan


What a whirlwind weekend! Our time in Tokyo was vibrant and magic, wild and crazy, and full of hilarious stories. At the time, there were some stressful moments, but looking back on it now a few days later, I can see how funny our adventures really were. You're only young once, right? Might as well stay out until 4AM dancing in Tokyo while you can.

We were all in agreement that we loved the atmosphere in Tokyo. It felt fresh and fun, so full to the brim with interesting things to do and see. In our experience, Japanese people were so friendly and kind, always ready to smile back at us tourists and give us a hand if we needed help. We had universally positive experiences with all the locals we met, which was refreshing and made us feel comfortable right away. In Busan, I find that the locals don't go out of their way to be friendly – though many are, definitely! And as there are relatively few foreigners in Korea, you can sometimes feel like an anomaly or an outsider. Tokyo is obviously an enormous, buzzing, metropolitan hub so it was great to feel like we fit right in.

The energy of the city was amazing. Throughout our time there, we just kept gushing about the atmosphere and the magic we found there. We stumbled onto a rooftop terrace decked out with fairy lights and playing nonstop Disney princess songs through the loudspeakers. We wandered the busy streets of Harajuku that were crazy, yes, but also beautiful and fun. We befriended a worker at the fish market who invited us to hop on the back of his cart and he drove us to a great lunch spot by weaving through the crowds of tourists. We admired the way people dressed in Tokyo: gorgeous, simple, and classic. I loved the ivy-covered buildings everywhere you looked. I loved the abundance of neon lights, and the endless number of restaurants, cafes and convenience stores. We adored the enormous trees everywhere, but especially in the gorgeous Yoyogi park where they make a beautiful canopy overhead. We saw beautiful temples and some lovely traditional weddings taking place at them. We drank Japanese beer while people-watching at the busy Shibuya crossing. We discovered an Earth Day festival filled with stalls selling beautiful handmade, natural goods. We bought multicoloured things at Daiso. And we just walked up and down streets just taking it all in.

We barely even scratched Tokyo's surface, and yet I felt like we saw so much in our two days there. It just goes to show how big and beautiful of a city it really is, and how much more there is to discover. I hope to return and visit again, for longer. I think it would be so amazing to live there for a time, just working and exploring the city one adorable restaurant at a time. Maybe for a summer? The more I explore the world, the more time I want to spend exploring and enjoying it. I saw this quote the other day: “If I were really wealthy, I wouldn't buy a mansion, just tiny apartments in every city that I love.” I absolutely agree! The only problem is that list of cities is getting longer and longer. I feel so blessed and grateful to have had these travel experiences so young – what a wonderful “problem” to have!

What We Did:

  • Ate lunch at a sushi restaurant in Tsukiji Fish Market. It was excellent – Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield had once eaten there, as well as the CEO of Amazon! It's a little off the beaten track and has bright orange awnings.
  • Explored Yoyogi Park and visited the Meji Jingu shrine.
  • Wandered around Harajuku on Takeshita Dori street and Ometesando street.
  • Crossed at the Shibuya crossing about ten times!
  • Saw the view from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. It's free, and offers great views of Tokyo.
  • Explored Asakusa and saw the Senso-ji temple.