Going on vacation or got a business trip coming up? Than it’s time to consider what to pack. Guidebooks are heavy and make you look like an obvious tourist, maps are neigh impossible to refold and quick phrase books won’t be able to translate the menu for you. What’s a traveler to do? Answer, whip out that handy dandy smartphone and go on a travel app safari.
There are a lot of apps out there and it can be hard to choose which ones will work best for you. With any travel, but especially with international travel, there are the issues of language barrier, navigation and connectivity. But, hey, there’s an app for that!
1. The Guidebook Problem
Guidebooks are great, but they are heavy and cumbersome, your luggage has to weigh under 50 pounds and you really won’t want to lug it when you’re scaling the hills of San Francisco, trust me. One great alternative is the app GuidePal for Android or iOS. You can choose virtually any major city around the world and GuidePal will show you around. From Stockholm to Instanbul and from Atlanta to Boston, GuidePal’s range is truly impressive.
GuidePal will give you a brief summary of the city, it’s attractions, restaurants, nightlife and best shopping. It also has a map and a nearby function that can assist you in your search for coffee. Perhaps the coolest thing about GuidePal is that you can make any of the guides available offline so that should you be stranded without internet, you can still use the guide (although the map no longer works).
2. The Planning Problem
When you’re planning a trip it’s always a major hassle getting tickets, planning itineraries and getting it all together. Kayak has a great app for Android & iOS which not only helps you find flights, hotels and cars, should you need them, it also can track your flights, remember your itinerary and help you navigate the airport.
Instead of the extensive note taking or hair brained panic you’d normally experience while planning a trip and navigating the airport, a trip planned with the help of Kayak can make your life a whole lot easier. My favorite things about Kayak? The packing list and currency exchange functions are fantastic. As a writer I’m always making lists, losing lists and forgetting things on my lists. Having a packing list on my smartphone that I can check off as I pack, is great. Then, once you’re in Istanbul or Paris, you don’t have to worry about currency exchange rates. Kayak will sort it all out.
3. The Multitude of Tickets Problem
Sometimes life feels like a long, boring book tour. You’re slung from city to city, by bus, train, plane and maybe even by barge! Tickets are annoying and come in all different shapes, sizes and paper thicknesses. Don’t fret, Tripit will organize those tickets for you.
Tripit is a great app for iOS & Android that coordinates and organizes all your traveling plans into a nice little list. All you have to do it email your trip itinerary to firstname.lastname@example.org and voila! All your itineraries including confirmation number and seat number are there for you to peruse.
4. The I-need-coffee-now Problem
Sometimes when you’re traveling, you just need to know where is the best coffee shop in town, or where one might find batteries or a toothbrush on short notice. AroundMe can always find something to assist you.
AroundMe works anywhere and everywhere, so no matter the city, you can always find your coffee and, it will be good.
5. The Language Problem
If you’re anything like me, going to a country where you don’t know the language is a bit distressing (Not because I think everyone should just magically speak English, but because languages are beautiful and I don’t have time to learn them all!). But there’s an easy solution to this problem. Find a good dictionary app that has English and the language of your choice translations and try to get one that is offline, just in case you don’t have an internet connection.
I can only give recommendations for free German-English and Spanish-English dictionary apps, since I happen to be in the process of learning both languages. Ascendo is a dictionary with basic words, phrases, fun quizzes and a verb directory. It offers dictionaries in both German and Spanish, though better, more complex dictionaries are out there too.
A much better Spanish-English dictionary is one by Bravolol. It has a greater range of words and a nice simple layout. I also recommend the Verb Conjugator app for anyone who really wants to give another language a whirl it comes in 6 different languages.
If you have any other types of apps you think might be good for travel, give me a tip in the comments, or if you have any suggestions of your own, feel free to contribute!