Before starting your next trip, it’s always a good idea to come prepared. In today’s digital world, your suitcase is only one part of the equation; the apps on your smartphone should also top your list of priorities.
After all, you want to be gentle with your data usage, particularly if you’re visiting a foreign country. It’s much easier to set everything up before departing.
So with that in mind, don’t forget to install the following types of apps:
1. Messaging and Video Conferencing App
Messaging apps make everything much more manageable and allow you to keep in touch with your contact list despite changing your SIM card.
While sending a simple SMS from the other side of the planet may cost an arm and a leg, doing the same via a messaging app will only eat up a little bit of your data plan.
2. Maps and Navigation
Android users already have Google Maps preinstalled (feel free to install your own), but even so, it’s a good idea to pre-download the maps for the area you’ll be traversing the most.
Navigation apps only need a GPS signal to be operational at this point. In contrast, the old school paper maps are not nearly as practical, and using them eats up more time.
3. VPN App
Despite the wide availability of public Wi-Fi networks worldwide, these are questionable from the privacy and security standpoint.
Without a way to encrypt your data, someone could be eavesdropping on your online sessions and steal your sensitive information right from underneath your nose. So what is a VPN?
In essence, it’s what you need to establish an encrypted tunnel between you and the server, so your login credentials and transfers stay hidden. It will also mask your IP, thus allowing you to protect your privacy and access geo-restricted content.
4. Translation App
Without having a translation app on your phone, even something as simple as asking for advice or directions could be a demanding task.
In recent years, translation technology has become so advanced that you can speak into the app in your native tongue and expect a translated text and speech output to be delivered back to you in a matter of seconds.
You won’t believe how much of a difference this makes when there’s something you need to ask the cashier clerk or when negotiating prices.
5. Taxi App
Unless you’re planning to be walking all the way to your target destination, you’re going to need a way to get around. Since buses and trains only cover a fixed route, calling a taxi from anywhere is practically a must.
With apps like Uber, Lyft, and their local alternatives (for example, Grab is popular in Asia), you select where you want to go from a map that appears on the screen, and your driver will take care of the rest. What a way to overcome the language barrier!
6. Booking App
Even though you may always be carrying a laptop in your backpack, having the ability to book a hotel room from your smartphone sure does come in handy.
While most providers are likely to offer you similar functionality via their mobile-friendly websites, it often happens that booking apps are easier to navigate and more user-friendly in general.
Plus, there may be a special discount waiting for you inside, the kind you would never get on the hotel’s website. Also, here’s a great tip: always book at least a couple of days to lock in the best prices.
7. Expense Tracking App
Having to get used to a foreign currency is hard enough, why make it any harder on yourself?
Do yourself a favor and install one of these expense tracking apps. That way, you’ll have an accurate sense of how much money you’re spending and cut out unnecessary expenses.
As soon as you get a feel for the local prices, you’ll be able to create a sensible budget to stick to.
8. Currency Converter App
Speaking of foreign currencies, you should always have a currency converter at hand.
This makes all the difference at the beginning where you’re still not used to it, but even later on, it’s a good idea to double-check a hefty price tag before opening your wallet.
These apps are the meat and potatoes of good travel experience. So open up the official app store, download a couple of them, and give them a whirl to see if there’s something you can imagine yourself using during your travels.
Hi, I’m Stephen Schreck (pronounced like Shrek; but don’t worry, I’m not green.)
At 21 I fell in love with travel. Since then my adventures have taken me to over 80 countries in 8 years.
Now my biggest passion is helping people just like you, reach their travel dreams!