9 apps to keep you happy and healthy on the road

Want to keep fit, healthy and happy on your travels? Your phone may hold the answer. No, really. From food diaries and workout routines to guided meditations and gratitude journals, here are nine apps you should try on your next trip to keep your health in check.

All apps mentioned are available to download from both the Apple App Store and Google Play.

A woman, with her back to camera, sits in a meditative pose with her legs crossed in front of green rice fields in Bali.
Meditation can help you find your zen when travelling © tonkid / Shutterstock

For easy meditation: Headspace

Travelling is all about recharging and taking a break from everyday life, but – even after jetting off to exotic climes – lingering stress and anxiety can be hard to brush off. 

Cue Headspace, one of the simplest and most popular meditation apps on the market, which provides short, guided sessions to help you relax your body and mind. Along with quick-fire sessions (lasting a few minutes), the app also has a number of more in-depth, themed courses, focusing on things like ‘boosting happiness’ and ‘learning to switch off’. Pair a few sessions with an afternoon lounging on the beach and you’ll find yourself getting straight into the holiday spirit.
Price: Free with in-app purchases

For a good night’s sleep: Calm

The first thing you see when you open Calm is a prompt to take a deep breath, which sets the tone for what this popular app is all about: relaxation and mindfulness.

Though meditation sessions are also on offer, the ‘Sleep Stories’ are the app’s standout feature, which help you drift off to the soothing sound of Matthew McConaughey’s voice reading you a bedtime story – enough to make even a night bus journey through the Himalayas bearable. Other celebrity narrators include Eva Green and Stephen Fry, with stories lasting around 30 minutes and covering everything from Disney classics to travel tales.
Price: Free 7-day trial, £37.99 per year

A man and woman exercise on a sandy beach at sunset. The male is mid-press up while the woman bends forward with her hands on her knees.
Sworkit provides workouts you can do anywhere © Portra / Getty Images

For on-the-go workouts: Sworkit

If all that hearty local cuisine is starting to leave you feeling a little sluggish, Sworkit can help put the spring back into your step. The app offers hundreds of easy-to-follow exercise routines that are perfect to do on the go, requiring no specialised gym equipment.

From cardio to yoga to high-intensity interval training, users can simply pick an activity or a body part to work on, choose the length of the sessions, then hit play. Experts rate it, too: after testing 30 fitness apps in a 2015 study, a team of sports scientists found that Sworkit was the most closely aligned with the American College of Sports Medicine's training guidelines.
Price: Free with in-app purchases

For menstrual cycle tracking: Clue

Led by women, backed by science and ad-free, Clue is one of the most rated period-tracking apps – and, refreshingly, doesn’t use any shade of pink, flower motifs or irritating euphemisms.

Track your period, log your symptoms and set pill reminders from wherever you are in the world, and, if you need to kill some time during a layover, peruse a stack of insightful articles and tips from experts covering everything from menstrual health and cycles to mood swings and sex – all from within the app. Clue has been ranked as one of the top period-tracking apps by publications including New York Magazine and Women’s Health, as well as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Price: Free

Two people hike along a stone trail through the wilderness of North America. The trail is shrouded in forest and greenery, while a river flows nearby and mountain peaks loom in the distance.
Discover the best local trails with the AllTrails app © Janice Chen / Shutterstock

For hiking and mountain biking: AllTrails

Love exploring the outdoors? AllTrails is like having a knowledgeable local guide on the other end of the phone. The excellent trail-mapping app is packed with over 100,000 trails from across the world that have been curated by millions of outdoor enthusiasts. It’s also full of practical information and tips – from directions and weather forecast to user ratings, photos and reviews. 

Log on and find trails near you or search in a location you intend to visit. Filters include dog – and kid-friendly trails, different difficulty levels and sights, views or wildlife you can spot on your journey. You can download maps to use offline and also create and upload your own using your phone’s GPS tracker.
Price: Free with in-app purchases

For reflecting on your day: Five Minute Journal

While on the road, Five Minute Journal provides a dual function for users. First, it helps focus your mind on the positives in your life, boosting your overall mental well-being, and second, it offers a means of documenting the highlights of your trip, which can be easily forgotten amidst the medley of new experiences during your travel.

The concept is simple: every morning, jot down three things that you are grateful for, and every night, make a note of three great things that happened that day, plus one thing you could have done better. Essentially, this app helps you put things into perspective and reflect on the go. You can also upload pictures and receive motivational quotes.
Price: £4.99

A top-down view of a table containing a number of dishes from Fiji. Most of the dishes consist of fish and fresh vegetables.
MyFitnessPal can help you make healthier food choices while on the road © Chris Chen / Lonely Planet

For healthy eating: MyFitnessPal

Eating healthy can be tricky while away from home, especially during prolonged periods on the road. To help in making healthier choices, MyFitnessPal offers info on over 11 million foods, providing details about the average calories, fat and protein in everything from avocados to veggie spring rolls – helping you gauge how nutritious the ‘healthy breakfast’ option on the hotel menu really is.

The app is super easy to use and allows you to upload progress photos and connect with your friends. You can also sign up to receive healthy recipes as well as workout ideas.
Price: Free

For digital detoxing: Forest

Let’s be honest, when you’re off exploring a new destination, you don’t want to be spending your precious time looking down at your phone screen. Thankfully – and somewhat ironically – there’s an app to help with that too.

Of the many ‘digital-detoxing-phone-locking’ apps available, Forest has to be the most original. Instead of simply locking you out of your phone, Forest asks you to set a timer and ‘plant a seed’. The longer you keep your hands off your device, the sooner your seed will turn into a tree. If, however, you unlock your phone before the timer is up, your tree dies. 

To encourage good behaviour, every time you grow a full tree, you can earn virtual coins which can then be used to plant a tree in real life, thanks to Forest’s partnership with Trees for the Future. Users, therefore, spend more time looking around at the world, and help save the environment in the process.
Price: Free with in-app purchases

A top-down view of a woman bungee jumping above the blue sea in Greece.
Being constantly reminded you will one day die is claimed to help you seize the day © Westend61 / Getty Images

For reminders that life is short: WeCroak

WeCroak has a straightforward, though somewhat unconventional, way to boost mental wellbeing: by constantly reminding you you’ll one day die; and thus you should live life to the fullest. 

Based on a Bhutanese folk saying that to be happy one must contemplate death five times a day, you’ll receive five daily invitations to pause and think about your own mortality by reading quotes about death from notable authors, poets, philosophers and thinkers. The notifications can’t be scheduled and can come at any moment, which feels fitting given the subject matter. 
Price: Free

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