Essential backpacking apps and accessories for a year backpacking

Okay, I admit it. More time went into planning what apps and technology to take than what clothes or even what route to take backpacking.

Geeky I know. But in case that’s your thing… Here’s everything I researched and can recommend to the best of my knowledge right now.

#1 – My Smartphone

A smartphone is now your best friend when you backpack around the world. We left our laptops at home saving on the extra baggage.

Before we left, I purchased the biggest micro SD card my phone could take (32gb) so I had enough space for favourite music, downloading podcasts and essential travel apps (see #4 below)

To avoid any phone charges I stopped my phone contract and switched to pay as you go and asked to have data turned off.

I kept my phone number so i can receive texts from my bank (Santander) when they send me a weekly account balance and text whenever a transaction of 100 pounds or more happens.

Sadly Virgin doesn’t allow me to do this but you can… Before you go forward all missed calls to Hullomail Voicemail so you can listen and download over WiFi to save voicemail charges.

#2 – KiwiBird 3 in 1 SD card reader


This little multi-purpose gadget is amazing. We use it for two main things: entertainment and photo backups.

Before we left we loaded favourite TV episodes and films onto a few SD Cards which we could watch on my phone using card reader. Essential for long 20 hour plus bus journeys and for when we get fed up staring at each other’s faces.

Photo Backups

We back up our photos weekly as WiFi is virtually everywhere. The camera SD Card can be connected to my smartphone by the  KiwiBird 3 in 1 SD card reader and the photos can be copied across (ES File Explorer) to my phone.

Then in the background the files are uploaded to Google Drive. Thanks Free WiFi at all the hostels we’ve stayed at.

Finally, I log into my PC at home using TeamViewer and drag the photos onto my hard drive. This saves paying for excess storage space from Google.

#3 – Anker External Battery 13000mAh

Already this bad boy has proved its worth. My phone is about 3000mAh so this gives me four times the juice. Essential for us when we’re on 5 day hikes,  long 20 hour plus bus journeys and backpacking in remote areas. Has two USB charging slots so both Chloe’s iPhone and my phone and/or camera can be charged at the same time.

#4 – Backpacking Essential Apps

Rome2Rio.com tells you how to get to your next destination. The website even lets you click through to the bus website to see timetables and even book your tickets online.

Maps.Me lets you download complete maps of the country and see where you’re going in real time (because GPS works without internet).

Google Translate lets you download the language offline to get translations in real time. Now it includes speaking too. Extra tip: new vocabulary and phrases you can copy across to AnkiDroid to help you learn the new words. I recommend learning tapes… Either Michel Thomas or Pimsleur.

SurfEasy is a secure VPN. Not a lot of people know that information over WiFi can be seen quite easily by others on the same network. So especially when logging into your bank or doing anything else you don’t want others to see,  connect via SurfEasy first. You can even change location too.

Lonely Planet Guidebooks via Scribd saves you from carrying around all the books. You have the guidebook for each country, which has more detail than the on the shoestring books. On top of that you can also access thousands of ebooks and audiobooks too – necessary to stay sane for long bus journeys. Wikitravel is also great for the honest traveller opinion

TeamViewer lets you log in and control your home desktop computer while away over WiFi (secure it first with SurfEasy). Just install it before you go and leave it on standby. Then via WiFi you can remotely log into it wherever you are.

Spotify and Podcasts also prove indispensable for entertainment, as well as uTorrent for downloading films on the go.

#5 –  Anker Bluetooth Wireless Keyboard

This is only really needed if you intend to do a lot of typing while away and prefer a real keyboard to your phone’s keyboard.