Besides the obvious must haves like Kayak, Booking.com, and AirBnB (which you probably already have on your phone), here are some other apps that we always use while traveling:
- Ever been wandering around the streets of a new city, only to realize that you’ve walked in a complete circle? We’ve definitely done that too. Many times. Now we plan ahead by downloading Google Maps Offline before we go. This way, even without cell phone coverage or wifi, you can still use a map to help you navigate your adventures. We found this incredibly helpful in Cuba, as we wandered through the streets and were able to use the walking directions to help us get to where we were going. To download a map, go to Google Maps and type in the city in which you are staying. Then swipe up on the bottom (where it says Directions, Save, Label and Share). You’ll then see three little dots in the top right corner. The first choice will be “Download Offline Map”, which you will choose. Then set your area and download. Use this app close to your trip to be sure to get the most updated map available.
- Google Translate came in handy on our recent trip to Colombia. While we know just enough Spanish to get by, many conversations were too fast for us to follow. The great part about this app is that you can use it many ways. The most obvious is to type in text to translate from one language to another. Another way is to use the camera and the hold the phone over the text that you need translated. We have found this useful with menus at restaurants or maps. Finally, we’ve used Google Translate and the microphone on it. This allows us to speak into the phone and then the app translates what we are saying; similarly the person speaking the other language can do the same. This has saved us with taxi transactions, shopping, and even our hotel concierge.
- The app for Currency Exchange (we use XE) is nice to have when you’re on the road or even before you head out on your trip. It’s nice to know the exchange rate, and a quick way of checking the prices of things if you don’t want to constantly be doing math in your head. It automatically updates to the latest currency price so you know you have the the most up-to-date rate.
- Research the equivalent to Uber or Lyft in whatever country you are traveling. Many countries have an app or service that allows licensed citizens to provide you with a ride to your destination. Often times these apps will be cheaper than the local taxis, plus you don’t have to wander around looking for a ride–one will come right to you. Go Jek is a motobike service in Bali that we’ve used. Another is Grab in South East Asia. Be sure to look up ones that you may be able to use in the places that you plan to travel.
- Are you also too overambitious when planning a trip? Do you try to fit too many places, or even too many countries, into a short amount of time? Rome2Rio is great app that can help you plan your adventures. You can enter in two locations, for example Melbourne to Sydney, and it will give you all the possible ways to get from one place to the next. It will show you airfare and flight times, bus schedules, trains and drive distances. The app estimates prices for you and also has connections with companies so you can book right through the app.
- Google Photo is a great way to save your photos while you travel. You can set Google Photo to automatically update when you are on wifi, so all your pictures from the day are saved online. This way, if you were to ever lose your phone while traveling, you would have a backup of all the pictures that you took along the way.
Have you seen those scratch off maps for travelers to track the countries that they’ve traveled to? We received not just one, but TWO for Christmas this year. But, the app Been is the same idea and fits right in your pocket. The app allows you to see what percentage of the world that you’ve seen and keep track of all the countries that you’ve been to. There’s also a separate tab for the United States, so that you can check off the states you visited and keep track of which ones you still need to go to.