Get familiar with these useful apps before your next trip.
You’ve planned your trip, packed your bags and you’re ready for your big adventure!
Have you thought about how you can use your smartphone to make your trip easier? Even if you don’t have an Internet connection?
In recent years, there have been many apps developed that make travel easier—even if you’re exploring another country.
Here are 10 apps that I find most useful when traveling:
1 - Planning Travel
When planning a trip, I use TripAdvisor on my computer to check hotel reviews and read the forums for travel tips. It has been my go-to travel planning and inspiration website for over 10 years.
When I’m at my destination, I like to rely on recommendations from locals, but if you arrive at an empty restaurant at dinner time, it’s nice to have other options.
The TripAdvisor App is a great way to explore your options nearby. Not only can you read reviews on restaurants, tours, and activities, you can also make reservations right from the app.
2 - Travel Guides
Triposo allows you to discover and book hotels, restaurants, and activities in 50,000 destinations worldwide. It pulls information from Wikitravel, Wikipedia and several other sites, so the information is accurate and complete.
Triposo is like having a tour guide right on your iPhone. You'll get recommendations for activities, hotels, restaurants and more, along with maps and directions, all that you can use offline.
Just make sure you plan your route when you have an internet connection, then easily save the details and city guides so you can access offline while traveling.
3 - Itineraries
With TripIt, you simply forward your confirmation emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and a master itinerary is built for you in the app. If you use gmail, yahoo, or outlook for email, your plans can be automatically forwarded.
You can easily keep travel details, like airline reservations, organized for everyone in your group. And for those you’ve left behind, you can share your complete itinerary with one click, allowing them to live vicariously through you on your trip.
One of the most useful features is the map that helps you easily navigate between destinations—even when you’re offline. When exploring an unfamiliar city, it helps you get your bearings quickly and not fumble with typing addresses into your Map app.
4 - Weather
When planning travel, I like to check the weather a few days before I leave on a trip. It’s amazing to me how many of the major weather apps can predict weather for destinations world wide.
When traveling, especially internationally, I like to use AccuWeather, which is the best choice for worldwide destinations. The website and app are used by 1.5 billion people around the world in over 100 languages.
AccuWeather also has long term forecasts and minute-to-minute precipitation forecasts based on your exact location. You can't get much better than that—unless of course you still your head out the window. Raining? Take that umbrella.
5 - Locate Wi-Fi
When traveling, especially internationally, there are times when you need to find a Wi-Fi connection. Most hotels and airports have free Wi-Fi networks, but when you are in a strange city, locating Wi-Fi can be a challenge.
The WiFi Map app comes in handy, showing you nearby Wi-Fi networks locations and login details for over 100 million free networks around the world.
You can get directions to nearby locations if you are out of range, or search for locations. This information is also available to download for offline use. Network details are crowd-sourced, so you can make your own contributions if you find a convenient Wi-Fi network nearby.
6 - Browse Securely
When you need to access your email, check your credit card balance, or do other activities that expose your personal information, using free Wi-Fi is not a good idea.
Security experts recommend using a VPN to encrypt your web browsing and data (making it unreadable) as it leaves your phone or tablet. VPNs make public Wi-Fi safe and secure, and also keeps your browsing private.
There are many VPN apps to choose from, but TunnelBear is a particularly easy one to use. It’s also free to use up to 500MB of data, allowing you to easily upgrade to a premium plan right inside the app.
7 - Calling Home
When traveling to another country, check with your cellular carrier to learn about their International calling plans. There is usually a hefty charge for calls (per minute), text messages and for data usage. For that reason, I like to keep in contact using Wi-Fi.
When connected to Wi-Fi, in addition to having access to your email and Skype, on Apple devices, you can use iMessage and FaceTime.
Not an iPhone user? You can use Facebook Messenger when you have a Wi-Fi connection.
Not a Facebook user? You and the person you want to chat with can download the popular WhatsApp.
Enjoying the peace and quiet of not being in contact while traveling? Play dumb about these options. After all, you’re on the adventure of a lifetime!
8 - Language Translator
Google Translate is my favorite translation app due to the ease of use and accuracy. The app supports 103 different languages, allowing you to easily speak or type a phrase and listen to the translation.
You can also use the camera feature to translate, and now Google Translate has the ability to listen to someone speaking in a foreign language, detect the language and instantly translate the phrase into your native language.
Since May of 2016, you are also now able to use the offline features on your iPhone, which comes in handy since you’re likely to be without Wi-Fi when you need to translate while traveling.
9 - Conversion Calculator
GlobeConvert - Free on iOS
Traveling to another country will inevitably result in not only converting to local currency but also distance and weight.
If you have an iPhone and access to Wi-Fi, you can ask Siri for conversions. If not, it’s handy to have a conversion app that works offline, like GlobeConvert.
GlobeConvert is easy to use and converts over 160 currencies and 350 physical units. I love that it shows only one pair of conversions so you’re not overwhelmed with numbers like other conversion apps. You can also create a list of favorites for even easier use!
I pull out GlobeConvert when shopping, so I know how much I’m spending. It’s also nice to know how far that 10km hike really is, and how many kg I'm likely to gain when binge eating gelato.
10 - Maps and Navigation
Did you know that Google Maps supports cities all around the world? You can get familiar with your location before you leave and with the Google Maps app, you can save maps to view offline.
If renting a car, I’ll pay the additional fee for GPS. When exploring a city by foot, I like to keep my head down and in a map, missing important sites around me. Not!
Relying on public transportation in major cities? City Mapper has more detailed transit information than Google, including real-time departures and disruption routes. It even incorporates Uber and live bike share information.
With these apps ready to go on my iPhone, I know I'll travel a little easier. Do you have any favorite apps you must have when going on a big trip? Let me know in the comments below!