Smartphone technology has made traveling easier and of course, more fun. Check out these apps before your next trip and download them before you leave!
If you want to reach friends and family at home, consider these basics. Facetime (pre-installed on iPhones) and Skype cover video calling. For making calls and sending text messages, consider Viber, LINE, WhatsApp, WeChat, or KakaoTalk. You can also make voice calls on Facebook Messenger. The basic functions of these apps are all free. However, for a small fee, you can call any number through Skype and text message any number through WhatsApp. While abroad in South India, I used Skype voice calls to call my bank in the U.S.
And on that note, you might need a personal translator to help you get around. Google Translate offers textual translation. iTranslate Voice, on the other hand, translates by voice. Travelers can recite a phrase or word into the app and have the translation recited back to them by the app itself.
If you’re traveling abroad, chances are, it’ll be in a non-native English-speaking country. These apps can help you whether you’re interested in learning the minimum, or serve as the beginning of your future fluency. By experience, I’ve used Memrise to practice Czech, Spanish, and French. The app matches phrases and vocabulary with images for better memorization and contextualization. A ton of my friends have also used Duolingo. There’s also a quirky app called Cat Spanish, that teaches you Spanish with pictures of cats. All of these apps are free, except for Cat Spanish, which charges a fee after you pass the first few fundamental levels.
There’s a lot more apps out there than Apple Maps and Google Maps to get you around. City Maps 2 Go, for instance, offers their maps, city guides, and other insider trips offline. Additionally, you should seek out public transit applications for your destination city. MetrO offers public transport directions for most major cities all over the world. In addition to Uber, Lyft offers a cab service by pressing a single button.
Flying doesn’t always have to be unbearable. Similar to Expedia, Hipmunk searches hundreds of travel sites for the best deals for flights and hotels (with a cute mascot). Entrain monitors your body’s circadian clock with your smartphone to reduce jet lag.
A little planning goes a long way. Tripit helps users curate a travel itinerary with recommendations specific to your destination, similarly to TripAdvisor. If you’re searching for accommodations on the go, be sure to check out airbnb, Hostelworld, and Hotels.com. Couchsurfing also has their own app. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, couchsurfers connect with potential hosts prior to and during their travels. Packpoint compiles a packing list for “serious travel pros” and allows users to check-off items as they organize their belongings.
Food & Drink
When you’re a foodie, dinner is no joke. Localeur and Tastemade help travelers identify the best places to dine out in their areas. Matchbook allows users to research and keep track of the restaurants they want to visit during their travels, like a virtual food diary. OpenTable allows users to make reservations on their mobile devices anywhere, which is awesome for large groups. Vegans and vegetarians should also consider downloading HappyCow and Humane Eating Project. These apps help you locate veg-friendly restaurants, kind of like a Yelp exclusively for non-meat eaters. Untappd, a social network for beer lovers, helps you locate the best bars around you and keeps track of what brews you try (and where you try them). Coffee lovers can swap Starbucks for a local favorite with Beanhunter. There are also region-specific apps for coffee lovers including Nordic Coffee Culture (for those traveling in Scandinavia), London’s Best Coffee, and New York’s Best Coffee.
Things To Do
If you’re looking for a local’s advice on what to do in your destination city, check out Like A Local and VAMOS. Kamino guides you on a walking tour of wherever you are. For live music fans, BandsInTown (my go-to show finder) and SongKick suggest and locate upcoming concerts in your area. Eventbrite also compiles a list of ticket-free local events.
If you’re a U.S. citizen, be sure to register your trip abroad through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. I do it every time I go abroad myself. After enrolling in STEP, you receive information about safety conditions in your destination country, in addition to emergency information from the U.S. Embassy. This information is also compiled into the Department of State’s Smart Traveler app. TravelSafe also offers emergency information for free, regardless of your citizenship.
There are many ways to tell your story, but one of the easiest ways is through sharing content through your smartphone’s location services. Mappr, referred to as “latergram location editor,” helps you change the locations of your photos before posting on Instagram. This app really helps out if you’re posting a #ThrowbackThursday from a foreign country. Places I’ve Pooped, similar to Foursquare, allows users to check-in in the different locations they’ve… you know.
Thankfully, currency conversion can be made simple with smartphone technology. XE Currency does the calculation for you with the latest exchange rates available. Expensify offers a free expense report service, which captures receipts and tracks mileage and time. Mint also tracks and categorizes your spending after you sync your bank accounts and credit cards to your account. Take note of your spending and budget yourself! Lastly, if you haven’t already, make sure to download your bank’s mobile app if they offer one before you leave.
Were these recommendations helpful to you or someone you know? Mention @decorcione in a tweet! I would love to hear your feedback.