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10 Travel Apps You Need to Navigate a Foreign Country
Some people long for the disconnected days of travel before smart phones — but when I need directions or am trying to remember my flight confirmation number, my smart phone is a blessing! There are dozens of useful travel apps out there to make your journeys smoother, giving you the time and peace of mind to more fully enjoy your travels. Here are the ten best travel apps I have on my phone to get me from Point A to Point B faster and easier – and with more fun along the way!
1) Maps.me: Don’t have data? No problem! Maps.me is an offline map that will help keep you on the right path. Maps.me is also detailed with useful information about the area, including restaurants, cafes, and bars, as well as pharmacies, parks, and embassies. Maps.me marks metros and bus stops, in case you get tired from all your wandering. To get turn-by-turn directions or search for specific attractions, you’ll need to be connected to wifi, but it’s still one of the most useful offline map apps out there.
2) Google Translate: If you’re miming abilities aren’t the greatest, Google Translate is a lifesaver! Besides having an in-app camera for point-and-shoot translations, you can use the standard type and text translation feature. It’s far from perfect, but if you’re struggling with communication it’s bound to get you on the right track.
3) XE Currency: Need to double check if you’re paying a fair price for those handmade mittens? Want to know how far your dollars will go at your destination? Want to check the exchange rate between two (or more) countries you’re traveling between? XE Currency updates its rates to the market whenever it’s connected to wifi so you know you’ve got the most recent information. It makes conversions easy, even for English teachers who are notoriously bad at math!
4) Travisa Passport and Visa Service: This is a helpful app if you’re roaming and you want to quickly check the visa requirements of your next destination. Will you need to complete an application? Should you get visa photos? What’s the maximum length of time you can stay? While you should follow up with the country’s official website, Travisa is a good place to start your visa research.
5) Duolingo: Duolingo is a great way to prepare for foreign language immersion! This app guides you through quick language lessons, reinforcing pronunciation, vocabulary, and useful phrases. If you’re traveling to a country with a completely different alphabet, it’s a good idea to practice the letters and sounds with Duolingo beforehand.
6) TripIt: Traveling long-term to many destinations? TripIt keeps all your details organized in an easy-to-read way. Confirmations are automatically imported from your email account and arranged chronologically. It’s an efficient way to keep your flight confirmation numbers, hotel maps, and train schedules all in one place.
7) Rome2rio: This little app is an extremely comprehensive guide on how to get from one destination to another. Rome2rio is especially useful for overland travel, showing you the different bus schedules and rail timetables, giving the price, time, and route for your trip. It offers basically all methods of transportation available, so you can see if going by bus actually is cheaper than flying.
8) TripAdvisor: All the knowledge and information of one of the best travel websites packed into app size! Not only can you research and plan your trip with the TripAdvisor app, you can book hotels, write reviews, and save destinations and attractions to check out later. TripAdvisor also has a ‘travel timeline’ feature, recording your movements so you can reference your history later. Can’t remember the name of that hip café you went to last week? The TripAdvisor app does!
9) Charades: One of the best things about traveling is making new friends, and an easy way to bring people together is to play a game. Charades is accessible and fun for all people, no matter their language or culture, and it always leads to hilarity.
10) Public Transportation App: Unfortunately there’s no universal app for public transportation, but nearly every city has a handy app for its metro and bus systems. Make sure to download it and familiarize yourself with it before you head out exploring. It’s also useful to have Uber or the local taxi-hailing app on your phone too. You may not intend to take a taxi, but it can be a relief to jump in a cab at the end of the day, show the driver your destination on Maps.me, and take a minute to relax.
11) Magic 8 Ball: Don’t know where to go next? Not sure if you should join a tour or go solo? Considering a new teaching position in a new country? There are so many decisions to make when traveling it can get overwhelming! Give yourself a break and indulge in a little nostalgia – ask your digital Magic 8 Ball!
While most of these apps work offline, don’t forget to download any necessary packages or data while you have access to wifi! Happy traveling!
Are there any travel apps you’ve found to be particularly useful? Share the love by leaving a comment below!
Amy snagged a CELTA from Teaching House New York in 2013 and since then has taught on three continents (and counting). Having a CELTA has made her dream of moving abroad possible, and currently she is slow-traveling through Europe. She loves getting to know students, wandering around cities, and trying to find the world’s best donut. You can check out her travel adventures and mishaps at The Wayfarer’s Book.