The Best (Free) Travel Apps For Bikers On Tour

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All of us (even you!) rely on our smartphones more than ever. Travellers across the globe are using them constantly. And now, we bikers are using them, too.

But for bikers on tour, gone are the days where travel apps only provide us with the essentials such as navigation. Increasingly, we’re using them to organise our trips, manage logistics, keep us fit, and even inspire our evening meals.

Here are 10 tried and tested travel apps for bikers we’ve used on our tours.

1. TripIt

https://www.tripit.com/web

tripit logo - travel apps for bikers

How many times have you gone through the charade of trying to find booking information only to realise you can’t remember where you put it?

Our stuff is everywhere. From hard copies in the bottom of your bag to digital copies on your smartphone. And from virtual copies in the cloud to the ones on your home screen.

Cue TripIt.

In a nutshell, TripIt keeps all of your bookings in one place. For bikers, that normally means hotels and ferries.

Once you connect your email account, your confirmation emails from ferry companies or hotels automatically get added to your TripIt itinerary.

And it’s all useful stuff, too. From the departure time of your ferry to the address and phone number of each hotel, it’s all available and organised automatically.

Another nice feature is that you can share your itinerary. So you can share it with other people on your trip, or share it with loved ones at home. It’s nice when they know where you’re heading and at which hotel you’ll be on any given night.

There is a paid option which is around $49 a year. But we find the free version is enough for what we need.

tripit user screenshots

How Do I Use It?

The easiest thing to do is set up ‘Inbox Sync’ before you start booking your trip. Once this is done, TripIt drags the information out of your hotel confirmations and ferry/flight details. From here, it collates them into one easy-to-read timeline.

If you’ve already booked your trip and are downloading TripIt retrospectively, you can easily add the details manually. Simply forward the confirmation emails to TripIt’s dedicated email address, and the app will do the rest.

What We Like/Dislike

Other nice features include up-to-date COVID guidance and a map overview of your trip.

Travelling with someone else? You can invite them to view your TripIt so they have all the information, too.

Lastly, you can also share your trip with people at home, so they know your itinerary.

One thing we don’t like is that you have to give the app permission to read the emails in your inbox.

For more posts like this one, check out our Touring Tips category


2. Google Translate

https://translate.google.co.uk/

google translate logo - travel apps for bikers

Over the years, Google Translate has gotten better and better. To the point where it’s now a staple on the smartphones of millions across the planet.

Not only is it capable of translating 109 languages, but it can also translate the majority of them offline.

But it gets better. Because you can also translate via photo and even translate bilingual conversations.

Perhaps the best bit of Google Translate is just how simple it is to use. Simply click the icons at the top, and you’re conversing with pretty much anyone on the planet.

As a biker, it could be a lifesaver if you’re stuck in the middle of nowhere and in need of help from a local.

google translate user screenshots

How Do I Use It?

Open the app, and select your native language in the top left corner (this is usually automatic.) On the right, select the language you wish to translate into.

Once translated, you can read the translation or select the speakerphone to vocalise the translation for ease.

Having a real-time conversion? Simply give the app permission to access your microphone, and the app will record and translate bi-lingual conversations.

What We Like

We like that Google has given us a multitude of ways to communicate. From simple text translation to live conversational translation and even the use of photos and handwriting. And we like that it’s free to use!

It’s also nice that you can save common phrases so you don’t have to keep searching for them every time you forget.

The option to enlarge the translation to full screen also works well.

google translate full screen - travel apps for bikers

3. Currency

http://currencyapp.com/

currency app logo

If you’re from the UK and travelling to Europe, you can generally do the conversion in your head. 1GBP (these days) isn’t that much different from 1 euro.

But things get a bit fruity when you end up in a country that uses its own currency. Such as Switzerland.

In our case, our trip to Norway (via the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark) means we’ll be making transactions in Euros, Danish Krone, and Norwegian Krone.

We like Currency because you can select the currencies you’ll be using on your trip and compare them with your native currency when you buy something.

And it’s accurate, too. Currency is preset to update exchange rates every 60 minutes.

currency app user screenshots - travel apps for bikers

How Do I Use It?

I’d recommend downloading the app before you go on your trip. When you open it the first time, you’ll be greeted by a list of five default currencies.

Delete the ones you don’t need, and add the ones you know you will need on your trip.

As mentioned above, I’ll be using Euros, Danish Krone, and Norwegian Krone on my trip to Norway this year.

Ensure your native currency is at the top, and you’re good to go.

When your meal in Denmark comes to kr 500, add the number into the Danish Krone section, and it will instantly convert it into your native currency.

What We Like

The best thing about this app is once you’ve set it up, you don’t have to worry about it. You can choose in the settings for the app to update in real-time (around every 5 minutes), every hour, or manually.

All-in-all, it’s an easy-to-use app that is quick, accurate, and functional. Oh, and it’s free.


4. iOverlander

https://www.ioverlander.com/

ioverlander logo

If your tour takes you off the beaten path where you lost your mobile signal days ago, the iOverlander app is essential for your travels.

Crucially, it works offline. And the information on the app is uploaded by fellow Overlanders. So all of it is relevant to people just like us.

When you select an icon to view, you’ll see all the information on that point that the app has collected from various users.

Once you get there, you can update the information as needed and in turn, help Overlanders behind you.

Arguably, one of the best functions of iOverlander is the ability to seek out information regarding border crossings and embassies.

But it’s also mega useful for finding hotels, campsites, fuel stations, and points of interest.

ioverlander user screenshots - travel apps for bikers

How Do I Use It?

The good thing about iOverlander is that it’s easy to use. Zoom into the desired location on the map, and you’ll be greeted by a tonne of POIs.

Finding the POI you need can sometimes be like looking for a needle in a haystack. And this is where the filter option comes in.

When in the filter menu, you can opt to turn all the categories on, off, or select just the one(s) you are looking for.

When you’ve found what you want, click on the POI and open the ‘information’. Here you’ll find everything from coordinates, elevation, the distance from your location, user descriptions, and reviews.

You also have the option to open the location in other apps on your phone (in my case, Google Maps or Maps.me). Or you can copy the coordinates and paste them into an app of your choice.

What We Like

iOverlander is an incredibly powerful travel app that is totally free and works completely offline. The contributors to the app are people just like you and me. So you know the reviews are relevant and trustworthy.

There are way more POIs on there than you might think – all of which can get you out of trouble even without a phone signal.


5. Maps.me

https://maps.me/

maps.me logo

As with iOverlander, if you’re travelling to remote areas of the planet, Maps.me is an essential travel app to have in your arsenal.

The main feature is that it works entirely offline and even provides navigation.

Is it the best navigation out there? No. But considering it’s offline, it’s certainly good enough.

The best way to use Maps.me is to set it up before you leave by downloading the maps you will need in advance. They’re free to download, and you can have as many as you like.

Simply use the search function to find hotels, restaurants, fuel stations, and a host of other points of interest.

To take it a step further, Maps.me has added user reviews – many of which are available offline. And if you enjoy getting off your bike for the occasional hike, Maps.me is incredible at finding trails even Google Maps doesn’t know about!

Considering it’s free and works offline, Maps.me is well worth having.

maps.me user screenshots - travel apps for bikers

How Do I Use It?

As mentioned above, you really need to download the maps in advance as you’ll need a phone signal or WiFi. You can download as many maps as you like, and once you have them, they are all accessible offline.

From the start page, click on the magnifying glass and type in your address/coordinates, or click on one of the many categories.

On the map, choose the POI you want, select ‘route to’ and the app will find a route for you to follow.

What We Like

Its basic functions (like navigation and finding POIs) are super easy. It’s a powerful travel app, and you’ll get the most out of it when you spend some time learning how to use it properly.

If you’re going to remote places with little (or no) internet connection, Maps.me is a must. It’s the best offline navigation app out there.

The only thing we don’t like is that it can be complicated. It’s not as intuitive to use as Google Maps (for example). But once you get used to it, you could tour using this app alone.


6. Garmin Connect

https://connect.garmin.com/

garmin connect app logo

I use Garmin Connect for two reasons – running and hiking.

And as someone who enjoys doing both as part of a motorcycle trip, Garmin Connect is a must-have.

Garmin Connect lets you plot running or hiking routes (either through the app or via desktop) and transfers them to your Garmin fitness watch.

From here, you can enjoy your run (or hike) with guided navigation.

garmin connect route planning - travel apps for bikers

It isn’t voice-guided (yet), but it does vibrate on your wrist when it wants you to make a turn.

I find it’s a good way of navigating without killing the battery on my smartphone. With my phone turned off, I have it for emergencies if I need it.

The other good thing about Garmin Connect is that it drops breadcrumbs as you explore. This means you can retrace your steps if you get lost.

It’s worth noting that you don’t necessarily need a Garmin fitness watch for it to work. You could quite easily run your routes through the app on your smartphone instead.

How Do I Use It?

As with many of the travel apps for bikers on this list, Garmin Connect works best when you pre-plan your running/hiking routes.

Whilst the app is easy enough to plan routes, I prefer to do it on the MapMyRun website. From here, I save the route as a GPX file and then upload it to Garmin Connect. (You could use hundreds of apps/websites to do this – I just like the ease of MayMyRun.)

Once you have your route on Garmin Connect, you can run the route through your Garmin watch.

garmin connect app user screenshots

What We Like

I’m not the kind of person who likes to run with my phone. So having the route on my watch eliminates the need to carry a phone.

The feature of retracing your steps if you get lost has come to my rescue many a time whilst running or hiking on tour!

And you can also set your hotel as a favourite – so if you do get lost, you can always select the hotel from your favourites list, and the watch will find you a route back.

This is, of course, completely offline and requires no internet or phone signal.

garmin fenix 7
Image: Garmin

7. Re-Open EU

https://reopen.europa.eu/en

re-open EU logo - travel apps for bikers

Okay, so this isn’t the most exciting travel app. But whilst it might not bring you a tonne of excitement, it could save a lot of trouble at borders.

COVID regulations are stabilising. But different countries are still changing their stipulations for entry. You could leave for a country only to find that the entry requirements have changed by the time you get there.

And if you’re on a tour where you’re constantly crossing borders, you need a travel app that can provide you with the most up-to-date information for that country.

If you’re travelling in the EU, this is where Re-Open EU comes in. The travel app colour codes each country from Red (dangerous) to Green (safe.)

It also provides you with travel entry requirements, national health measures, transit options, and whether you need certificates and proof of vaccination.

Finally, it provides direct links to the country’s government website with up-to-the-second information.

reopen EU user screenshots

How Do I Use It?

The beauty of this app is just how simple it is.

You don’t need to register, and the start page of the app gets straight down to business. Select the country you plan to visit, and that’s it.

Scroll through the options at the bottom of the page to view any restrictions, safety measures, or government information.

What We Like

It’s an easy-to-use app that is fast, functional, and always up-to-date. This means you can check it on the days leading up to a border crossing to see if any requirements have changed since you set off.

If it says you now need a PCR test to enter, you can pick one up en route.


8. Google Maps

https://www.google.co.uk/maps

google maps logo - travel apps for bikers

We all know what Google Maps is, so I won’t delve into it in too much detail here. But the offline mapping of Google Maps has improved a lot over recent years. And this means it’s no longer rendered useless without a phone signal.

Navigation aside, Google Maps has the most comprehensive and intuitive selection of POIs for you to choose from when on or off the bike.

Whether looking for a restaurant for your evening meal, searching for a cash point, finding a hospital, car park, or a hairdresser, Google Maps can get you there.

google maps user screenshots

How To Use It

Once you open the app, simply follow the steps to make a route. If you’re already at your location, open the app and choose one of the many pre-selected categories to explore. This includes restaurants, attractions, shopping, services, and more.

You can also set the routes to ‘walking’ if on foot, or ‘driving’ if on your bike.

What We Like

Google Maps has been a work in progress for years. And the beauty of that is that all of those micro-updates are accumulated into a formidable travel app that is easy to use and comprehensive.

9. A Breakdown App

https://www.startrescue.co.uk/breakdown-cover/info/mobileapps

start rescue app logo

I’m a big advocate of breakdown apps over traditional telephone helplines.

One positive of using an app is that even if your phone battery is running low, you can quickly send your coordinates to the breakdown company.

If your phone dies immediately afterwards, it doesn’t matter – the breakdown company knows where you are.

Whilst there are many on the market, I personally use Start Rescue. But the AA route finder app is just as good (and arguably has better coverage – but that’s another discussion for another day.)

In the Start Rescue app, simply open it up, select ‘new breakdown’, and follow the prompts.

Once you’ve notified them of your breakdown, they will phone you back within minutes to check on your safety and confirm your location.

When I broke down in the French Alps, Start Rescue past me on to their European partners who had a tow truck with me within the hour.

Breaking down on tour is a stressful time. And having a breakdown app makes life so much easier.

start rescue app user screenshots - travel apps for bikers

How Do I Use It?

In the app, Start Rescue have stripped everything away from the start page. The only available option you have is to report a breakdown.

Once you’ve done this, Smart Rescue find your location via your smartphone GPS and confirms your policy details.

After an initial call, Smart Rescue will confirm your vehicle details and your safety before sending out a vehicle to get you to your destination.

What We Like

We like that Smart Rescue (and AA) have stripped their start pages back so that reporting a breakdown is easy and obvious.

The breakdown companies receive your location directly through your smartphone. This means you don’t need to know where you are for them to know where you are!

In my experience, breakdown apps are far quicker and more accurate than phone calls.

10. WhatsApp

https://www.whatsapp.com/

whatsapp logo

As with Google Maps, we all use WhatsApp – and that means it’s familiar.

Of course, you can use it for chatting with your friends back home. But for touring, WhatsApp acts as a great ‘friend finder,’ providing you have a phone signal.

If you and your riding buddy get separated, simply open the app, and you can send your exact location without knowing where you are.

When I tour with my dad, we have a routine where he sends me his location, and I make my way to him. Make sure you decide this in advance, or you’ll go round in circles trying to find each other.

Not only this but calling your buddy using your mobile data may be cheaper than making a mobile-to-mobile call.

whatsapp share location - travel apps for bikers

How Do I Use It?

In terms of sharing your location, select the contact you want to share it with. Select the + button, then select ‘location.’

You will then see an option that says ‘Send your current location.’ Once you click send, your buddy will receive your location via WhatsApp message.

When they click on the location in the message, it will automatically open up in Google Maps, and a route will be ready for you to follow.

What We Like

Once you’ve tried it, it’s a really simple system to get you and any lost riders back together.

The only problem is it doesn’t work offline.

Travel Apps For Bikers: Conclusion

The world is constantly changing. And smart people all over the world are developing apps to make our lives easier.

So from navigation to restaurant booking, and from hotel reservations to running, there’s something out there for everybody.

Are travel apps for bikers necessary? No. But if the whole point of touring is to enjoy it as best you can and get the most out of it, why not use a few travel apps along the way?

If you do use travel apps, which do you use? Let us know in the comments so we can give them a go!

Top image: Vantage Point Photographers

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