This post was originally going to review the apps that I had pre-installed prior to our trip to India. Turns out they weren’t actually that great, or indeed useful – so I’ve rephrased the title and am now unleashing upon thee, the best apps to have installed for a backpacking trip across India! The list is not limited to a particular type of app e.g. maps, nor is it exhaustive – you can add/mix/delete as you see fit for your particular trip, but these stalwarts should be a good foundation for most! Lets get going with the best backpacking India apps.
Obvious right? Yes, but there is a key part to this app that will become invaluable when you’re in India. Being able to download ‘areas’ for offline use means you are no longer reliant on mobile network coverage to see where you are. Though you will need to find some WiFi if you want to have walking route directions supplied. This got us out of a few sticky situations. One key thing to note is that it also gave us some much needed assurance that our tuk-tuk/taxi/bus/train was heading in the right direction towards our destination! So although it’s an obvious app and likely one you already have installed, it’ll be worth you doing some more research into how to use the offline mode (here is a good tutorial for that).
This little number will come in very handy when it comes to keeping tabs on that 4G quota! We decided to go with Airtel, mainly because they offered the best option for travelling around the country with the same SIM. Some of the apps also allow you to top up your data directly, others don’t – if that happens you may want to consider using a website like recharge.com is you can’t get to a shop in time.
Whilst technically this is a website, I felt it needed to be included purely because we used it so much! A key component of travelling India is the trains and there is no better way of finding out whether your train is on time, or delayed by three hours. It doesn’t have the easiest user interface, but once you work out what you need to type in where – the information you can access is highly valuable. The information was largely correct during our travels, however there was the odd irregularity – so if it doesn’t look right, get a second opinion!
I wasn’t sure about including Zomato, purely because I managed to get really ill after ordering a mutton wrap through it (see my face the day after on our vlog)! It is, however, a very convenient app to have if you’re stuck inside for some reason – or just fancy having something delivered to your lazy ass. From Subway to local vendors (though make sure you know where you’re ordering from, unlike me), there is plenty of choice and all at reasonable prices. Zomato’s customer service is also top notch and on the one occasion we had an issue, they got in touch with the delivery driver and got it sorted for us!
Finding trusted, community reviewed accommodation has never been easier thanks to these two apps. You can search for places to stay months in advance, or if needs be the day you need it! It can be worth checking between the two as we noticed prices did vary a little between the two (in both directions), so it pays to do a bit of research still. Not only does it make it easy to book, but you also have a handy place to access all your booking information when it comes to check-in time. The booking.com app also offers you the availability to download the booking information for use offline – this helps when you’re heading to the middle of nowhere. You can’t go wrong with these two apps and they should definitely be some of the first you install for your backpacking trip to India.
Like the above, having the ability to see other travellers (and local) opinions on restaurants, activities and hotels is priceless when on the road. We have found countless ‘hidden gems’ using this app and you needn’t worry about it taking up too much data – you can download cities for offline use! It also means you can give something back to the places you loved and an honest opinion on the places you didn’t. Small businesses across the globe find TripAdvisor to be a brilliant marketing tool – no more so than the many hawker stalls, cheap hostels and trendy bars around India. Having reviewed, you also have a memory pot to dip back into for future trips (I’ve done this a few times, especially useful to pass on to friends and family who ask for recommendations!).
Last, but most definitely not least is India’s leading payment gateway app. After the money issues that hit India in late 2016, PayTM’s use rocketed around the country (the CEO was pretty happy about it) and is now a very easy way to pay for lots of goods and services. It can be tricky to add credit to your account. If you’re lucky like us you may have a local friend who can help you achieve this, that being said I’m sure they’ll improve this feature going forward. We found this to be really useful when booking our trains, just make sure you don’t book yourself on the ‘waiting list’, like we did.
Hopefully you find these apps to be just as useful as we did. I’m very aware that new apps appear daily, so if you find a new app that you feel should be included here – let us know!