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10 Types of Apps To Download When Traveling Abroad

Time to free up space in your smart phone.
PHOTO: istockphoto

Traveling out of the country soon? Be a smarter traveler by downloading these free apps on your phone before you take that flight.

  1. Local Transportation Maps

    Google Maps and Waze are helpful if you’re walking, biking, or driving your own rental car. But if you’re planning to use the local subway, bus, and train, you need to know the daily schedules on top of figuring out the fastest and cheapest routes. Research on what maps the locals prefer to help them commute. For example, New Yorkers use the Transit App, New York Subway MTA Map, and My Transit NYC, while European tourists love City Mapper.
  2. Ridesharing

    If local public transportation intimidates you, try popular ridesharing apps like Uber, Grab, and Lyft. Make sure you do you research first because some cities and countries have banned the likes of Uber. If that’s the case, there are alternative ridesharing companies trending in different cities around the world. Make sure you’ve set up your account prior to your trip to avoid issues, and read the reviews before using them. There are even P2P apps for bikes, surf gear, and snow gear like Spinlister and Spokefly. For boats, there’s Boatsetter and Sailo.

  3. Accommodation Booking

    Even if you’ve already booked your rooms, it’s best to have booking apps on your phone in case of an emergency. What if your Airbnb host turns out to be a scammer or shady person? What if the budget hotel you thought you reserved online didn’t actually receive your booking info? These contingencies happen IRL, so it’s best to have apps handy in case you need a new place to stay. Depending on your travel style, there are plenty of apps to choose from. If you prefer hotels, there’s Agoda, Hotels, Booking, Expedia, Trivago, and Traveloka. For backpackers, there’s Hostel World, Couchsurfing, and Hostel Bookers. For Airbnb alternatives, there’s Tripping, Homestay, and Home Away.
  4. Airlines

    Download the official apps of the airlines you’re flying with. Use it to check in early, purchase add-ons (like extra luggage after all that shopping), and see the status of your flights. Also download the apps of three backup airlines, just in case. If you’re looking for good deals, use all-in-one travel apps to help you compare airline prices, like Skyscanner, Kayak, Hipmunk, Wego, and Google Flights.
  5. Currency Converter

    Instead of using your phone calculator, a currency converter app is more accurate. It provides live currency exchange rates, can be used offline using the last exchange rate you viewed, and may be programmed to highlight your top currencies. Try XE, My Currency Converter, Banca, and Currency.
  6. Maps

    Aside from the reliable Google Maps and Waze, see if you can find a friendly city map of the place you’re visiting. If you’re looking for offline maps, try OffMaps, CityMaps2Go, Navmii World, and Google Maps’ offline setting.

  7. Reviewers

    Before falling for tourist traps, see what other travelers and locals have to say about the restaurant, museum, tourist spot, park, or shop you’re eyeing. There are dozens of apps to choose from. For restaurants and bars, start with Yelp, Foursquare, Velocity, and Zomato. For tourist attractions, try Trip Advisor, Trip Expert, Like A Local, Lonely Planet, and Trip.
  8. Travel Organizer

    Organizing a foreign trip can be stressful, especially if you’re planning to go completely DIY. To help you keep track of your itinerary, prevent you from being late to your flights, and keep tabs on your travel expenses, pick a travel organizer app that best suits your personality and travel style. For frequent business fliers, try TripIt and TripCase. For modern millennial tourists, there’s Google Trips.
  9. Translator

    Avoid getting lost in translation when heading to a non-English speaking country. Aside from learning handy foreign phrases to get by, download a language translator app. The best ones—especially voice translators—come with a price tag. If you’re looking for free translator apps, try Google Translate and Duolingo.
  10. Free Call and Messaging

    The last thing you want is for your roaming charges to skyrocket, so turn off your cellular data throughout your international trip. To text and call people for free, make sure you have good WiFi signal and a reliable messaging and calling app that your friends and loved ones also use, like Viber, WhatsApp, or WeChat.

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