Planning trips and getting around in a foreign country can be quite a challenge, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience with traveling. You don’t speak the language, you have no idea how the public transportation system works, and it’s very easy to get lost if you’re not careful. A while ago, you’d have to carry around a huge map, a pocket dictionary, ask for directions every five minutes and hope that you’d bump into someone that speaks English well enough to be able to explain where you need to go.
Fortunately, technology has made all of this a lot easier, and now a smartphone is pretty much all you need to have with you to effortlessly find your way around an unfamiliar city. There are a ton of terrific apps in your store that you can use to make your vacation a much more pleasant experience, and save a lot of your time. Here are some that we’ve picked as the most useful, in our own opinion. You should definitely check some of them out.
Offline Maps + Navigation
This one almost goes without saying. Almost every smartphone out there has a built-in map and navigation app (Google Maps, Bing Maps), but if you’re going abroad you’ll actually want to get an app that allows offline maps, so you don’t need a data connection to access them.
MAPS.ME and HERE maps are great for this purpose, but there are many fantastic ones out there. This is by far the most important app on this list – with a good offline map app it’s virtually impossible to get lost, and without it, you’ll have to resort to asking people, whose command of the English is not as strong, for directions.
Every trip, large or small, requires a significant amount of planning to make sure that you have everything you need. There are bookings, travel insurance information, phone numbers, addresses and so on. TripIt helps you keep all of your travel itineraries in one place – all you have to do is forward all of your relevant confirmation emails (from hotels, car rentals, flights and so on) to their e-mail address and all of your itineraries will end up neatly organized in your TripIt app without you having to input them manually.
Whenever you need any of this information, it’s all in one place, and easy to find. Trust us when we say that this can save you a lot of time, time that you can now spend sightseeing and relaxing instead of troubling yourself with your travel plans.
There’s probably nothing more annoying than trying to find a parking spot in an unfamiliar area. This app can make this tedious task a lot easier by clearly pinpointing the cheapest and closest parking garages relative to your current location. A certain user even admits to finding a parking spot for $8 in New York City, which is an absolute steal. Definitely a must-have application if you plan on sightseeing in a rented car.
Waze is a traffic app that allows all of its users to input road and traffic information. Whether it’s increased police activity, a roadblock or accident somewhere up ahead or even a shortcut, anyone can use this free app to let fellow drivers know how best to handle the road in front of them. It can save you a lot of grief if you’re in a hurry for a meeting and can’t afford to be late. According to the latest information, over 30 million people use the app and regularly input info about local roads to help drivers out.
Everyone knows that leaving your data connection on while you’re traveling abroad spells disaster for your phone bill if you don’t have access to WiFi. Unfortunately, sometimes you just have to access the Internet urgently even when there are no hotspots nearby, and in these situations, an app like Onavo can be a life safer. Onavo compresses all the data that you transmit via your mobile connection, which saves you a lot of money in the event you’re forced to use mobile data, and it also keeps detailed reports of how much data your apps are currently using. This is not a replacement app for WiFi and you should still try to use hotspots whenever you can. Nevertheless, this is definitely something you want to have installed in case of an emergency like this.
A Good VPN
If you plan on using the Internet at all while traveling, it’s always a good idea to set yourself up with a solid VPN before taking off. A lot of online content is getting geo-blocked nowadays, including very popular sites such as YouTube and Netflix. With a VPN, you’ll have no trouble concerning geo-blockades, and you can access the websites that you need as if you were browsing at home. Just make sure to connect to a VPN server that’s close to your current location, in order to get the best speed possible.
Have you ever been in a situation where you’re traveling with a group of friends, and by the end of the day none of you have absolutely no idea who paid for what and who owes money to whom? It’s one of the most annoying situations possible, and thankfully someone’s come up with an app to take care of that. Splittr allows you to enter all of your expenses (in any currency) and who paid for each of them, and then it instantly calculates how much everyone owes. A very useful app, especially at the beginning of a trip when no one has any small change whatsoever.
Wolfram Sun Exposure
Here’s one especially for you girls and guys with sensitive skin. Wolfram Sun Exposure is a fantastic app that gives you detailed information about the current UV Forecast based on your location and tells you exactly how much time you’re allowed to spend under direct sunlight. It even allows you to input your skin type and the SPF of your sunscreen, and then uses all of that information to let you know when it’s time to get out of the sun.
Technology has definitely made it much easier for us to travel around the world and find our way even in a completely unfamiliar place. With these apps, traveling will be a breeze from now on. Just remember to keep your smartphone charged at all times and carry a backup battery if possible, because using your smartphone this much will drain your battery more quickly. Other than that, you’re set, so pack those bags and have fun!
Adam Ferraresi knew that everything connected to the internet was always appealing to him, which is why he opted out for a career of web developer. He’s been rather successful in his endeavors, so he can offer great insight in the world of internet through his articles published at wefollowtech.com.