Over the last few years hitting the open road in a beat-up van with a manicured interior, while all abandoning the mod cons and tech the rest of us rely on has become the travel mode of choice for the holier-than-thou millennial
And we’d be ever so happy for these tech-free roamers- probably lost somewhere in Europe’s maze of municipal one way systems and perpetually wave starved thanks to their refusal to check the forecast- if only we didn’t have to read them preaching about their latest digital detox on Instagram so frequently.
If instead, you feel like utilising modernity on your next Euro surf roadie and filling your life with apps that cater to your each and every whim, we’ve got a couple of suggestions for you.
Presumably, the primary goal of a surfing road trip, after finding oneself, is to find waves. For that, we suggest Windy; the most comprehensive and user-friendly wave hunting tool we’ve ever come across. Not only does it provide detailed weather, wind and wave forecasts, but you can also check live weather, webcams, air quality, sea temperatures and a whole lot more. And, its pin drop tool is ideal for checking how much swell will be hitting more sheltered or secluded spots without their own dedicated forecast. The desktop version also provides a rundown of all the surf spots in the area, (with info from the Storm rider guide) containing specific details about each break and what swell/wind combo they need.
If you’ve come looking for the wildly esoteric, fantastically obscure app recommendations, it’s likely you’re going to be unimpressed with this one, but hear us out. After mining the depths of the internet in search of the best translator app, Google’s offering consistently comes out on top. It’s got 103 languages, the option to translate an info board or menu from a photo and a conversation function that lets you translate a bilingual chin wag so each party can understand the other. It’s a tad too slow for full-blown flowing conversation at the moment but apparently, with the advent of 5g it will soon be instantaneous. As a quick disclaimer, please don’t blame us if it transpires that the app has been listening to all of your conversations and selling your data profile to big corps.
For those who’ve travelled around Australia or New Zealand with the wonderful digi companion that is Campermate, this one does feel a little two-bit. However, what Park4Night lacks in slick UX it makes up for in scale, with camping locations identified everywhere from the foothills of the Dolomites to the remotest outer Hebrides. Each location (including picnic areas and laundries as well as car parks and campsites) pops up on an interactive map, with a tap revealing the cost, facilities, height restrictions and user rating of each spot.
When spot-checking in mainland Europe it’s best to avoid the temptation to take a shortcut from car park to beach through bush or shrub, as any area even vaguely shaded from public view tends to harbour a smorgasbord of toilet roll and human faeces. Now, here’s an app that aims to make the need for a nature poo a thing of the past. Simply pinpoint your location on the map to reveal all of the public toilets around you- with little icons indicating whether they’re free, or require a key and a rating system letting you know what sorta nick they’re in.
As much as we’d all like to stick on a smug out of office and pretend we don’t have a job for the duration of our travels, for those who need to work while on the road, scoring decent wifi is essential. If you fancy a break from the fluorescent lights and far-too-hot coffee of the local Maccies, this handy app can help pinpoint various free alternatives. Each pin contains the name, location, network speed and password (if one is required). Some are local cafe’s while others seem to be individual’s home routers, allowing you, if you so desire, to connect to wifi covertly parked outside someone’s house (and pretend you’re in a spy movie).
Cover photo: @lugarts