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So everyone’s heard that urban backpacker myth about the guy who was held at gunpoint at the edge of a cliff with no clothes on… or something like it. Safety is something we all worry about when we’re out there. It doesn’t matter where you are, being away from home without a safety net can get a little daunting. The reality is, your chances of ending up like cliff-guy are very slim. Any seasoned traveller will tell you that backapcking is perfectly safe. While you’re on the road, it’s down to you to be a responsible and cautious traveller, and if you are, you’ve got nothing to worry about. For tips on how to master this, check out our 5 Golden Rules for Staying Safe When You’re Backpacking.
Your smartphone can also be the perfect safety net while you’re out adventuring, particularly if you arm it with some of these helpful apps and gadgets…
1. React Mobile App
This incredibly handy app is all about being discreet when you’re in a sticky situation. With one swift slide and tap, you can let your chosen contacts know to keep an eye on your whereabouts, just in case you’re worried about things getting weird. For emergencies, you can simply slide onto the ‘Help Me’ button, which immediately (and secretly) let’s your contacts and the authorities know that you’re in trouble.
2. Offline maps
Internet access is usually more difficult to come by when you’re travelling and finding your way around without Google Maps can get a little tricky. Luckily, the geniuses of the interweb have come up with a clever solution, offline maps. Download Citymaps2go to your phone, and say goodbye to being lost (and unnecessary data usage). There are maps available for most major cities, as well as insider travel tips from locals.
3. Review and accommodation apps
It always helps to know what your fellow travellers are saying about a place before you get there, and a review app is a great way to find out. Try the shiny new Hostelworld App, complete with the latest updates on last minute availability, location ratings and detailed reviews from past guests. This is a great way to get a feel for the area around a hostel, how far it is from the sites you want to see and how friendly the staff are. Easy peasy.
It’s an emergency. You need help. What to do? Simple. Call 999. No, wait. 911. No. Wait? What country are we in? What’s the emergency number??!!!
You never want to be in this situation. And thanks to !Emergency!, you never have to be. The app quickly finds the correct emergency number for the country you’re in, so you can call the appropriate authority in seconds.
Deep breath. Panic is so last century.
5. Movement Sensors
And since your smartphone is such a great travel buddy, why not return the favor? Keep your phone safe by downloading a free motion sensor app. Choose from Best Phone Security (iOS) or Don’t Touch My Droid (Android) depending on what type of phone you have, both function in similar ways. The apps trigger a loud alarm to sound from your phone whenever it’s moved without your permission, leaving you protected against pickpockets and sneaky thieves.
6. Trip Lingo
Of course, all the James Bond-esque apps in the world can’t rival knowing the local language. Trip Lingo is an amazingly easy way to pick up useful emergency phrases for the country you’re in. The app allows you to access a live translator that functions in 180 languages, so you can learn the phrases you need quickly. There’s even an offline dictionary included, just in case your 3G signal decides to be temperamental…
There are also some slightly more potent gadgets on the market out there for extreme situations. Most sticky travel scenario’s can be cured with careful preparation – Cliff-guy had to have been pretty careless to end up where he did – so we absolotely do not endorse carrying anything harmful while you’re on the road.
You’d be surprised at what the brainboxes of the inventing world have come up with though. For example:
7. The Smartphone stun gun
Yellow Jacket have come up with a smartphone cover that is also a stun gun that is also an emergency power source if your battery runs out. Oh yes.
The phone cover is capable of firing out 950,000 volts when deployed (not quite as powerful as a police taser but it still packs quite the punch). Yellow Jacket claim the stun gun is designed for those in need of ‘physical protection’, but we think the fact that it double as an external battery pack is much more exciting. After all, isn’t a dwindling battery life one of the most terrifying things of all?
8. Smartphone pepper spray
There’s also this less severe, but equally crazy gadget. This cunning smartphone/pepper spray canister fires a dangerous stream of deadly gas up to a distance of five feet. Simply unclip the canister from the smartphone case and go.
Carrying pepper spray or a taser is illegal in some countries, including the UK, so if you’re thinking of resorting to such extreme measures, be sure to check local laws before you travel.
Your smartphone holds the power to be your ultimate travel support team, all you have to do is know how to unlcok it’s power. So wherever you’re off to for your next adventure, be sure to arm yourself with some good research and an extensive app collection. Oh, and be sure to laugh in the face of the next person who tries to sell you the cliff-guy story…