Planning a trip? There’s an app for that!
Whenever I’m planning a trip overseas, I try to plan ahead (as much as possible, anyway) and look into currency exchange rates, important words and phrases to learn, tipping etiquette, and all of the other little details that might come up.
One resource that has been immensely helpful for tackling language barriers, public transportation, and planning in general are phone apps (I use an iPhone, so I apologize if any of these are iOS exclusive!)
Here is a list of my favorite apps for traveling:
TripIt is the ultimate app for saving and retrieving trip information. It allows you to input details for flights, hotels, tours – just about anything – and save confirmation numbers, contact information, and reservation details and organizes it into a full itinerary that you can access at any time
Trip Advisor is my go-to app for checking out reviews of local hotels, attractions, and tours, and is always full of helpful hints to ensure you have the best experience possible. I never book a hotel or tour without checking reviews first!
I’ve traveled on some long (and I mean, so long your mind goes numb and you wonder if you’ll ever walk on the ground again, watched that movie three times already long) flights, and nothing makes a long flight even more terrible than a bad seat. If your airline allows you to choose your seat, check SeatGuru to get tips for choosing the best seat available. You’ll appreciate the extra legroom when you’re stuck in a seat for 12+ hours.
Make sure – I repeat – MAKE SURE you turn off your Cellular Data while overseas to avoid ridiculous data charges while abroad. However, if you’re going to be wandering an unfamiliar city, it’s always handy to have a map. While I often invest in a small fold-up map for each new city I’m visiting (you know, those paper things with lines and road names on them?!), the reality is that using a digital map is much more efficient. If you’re connected to WiFi, pre-load the map of the area you’ll be walking, and drop pins in any important locations (especially your lodging!). When you’re out and about, you should still be able to pull up the map without using your data.
Need a quick currency conversion rate? Can’t remember how many feet are in a meter? Trying to figure out if you should pack a sweater or swimsuit for 20 degrees C? The converter app is a great way to tackle all of those dilemmas, and includes conversions for currency, length-distance, temperature, weight-mass, volume, and even has a tip calculator.
Aside from serving as a useful alarm clock, the clock app also allows you to see what time it is in every major city in the world (which is extremely useful when you are deciding whether to call someone in the middle of the day, and notice it’s 3 am back home).
WhatsApp is a great way to keep in touch with people while you’re overseas. It allows free messaging to any number (no username required, it links directly to your phone) whenever you’re connected to WiFi. iMessaging is free overseas using a WiFi connection as well, but this app allows me to text anyone who doesn’t have an iPhone, without the ridiculous charges.
There are still plenty of other apps that are useful for travel, and even more that are helpful for specific locations (check out my post for my favorite apps for visiting Japan here, and for Europe here), but this is the short list of apps that I won’t travel without. If you have any suggestions, be sure to leave them in the comments below!