This year has been a busy time for my little passport... I visited placed I never thought I'd get to see. It all started with my Europe trip in the spring, when I backpacked through Croatia, Austria and the Czech Republic. In the summer, I made a trip out to the Romanian motherland and just a few weeks ago, I returned from my very first trip to Argentina (which was the coolest thing I've ever done - but that's another story for another blog post.)
Long story short is I did a lot of travelling and, in the process, discovered a few apps that changed the game for me. Sure it's thrilling to find yourself lost in a place where you don't speak the language... but it's also nice to have the option to simplify life a little bit. Lucky for you, all these apps should be available in both the Apple iTunes store as well as the Android Play store.
Best of all - they're free!
Google Translate perhaps the most revolutionary travel app you'll come across. Not only does it allow you to translate words and sentences in real-time, but it also allows you to do so without an internet connection! Just remember to download the desired language package via WiFi before you take off. Even more amazing? It has the capability to translate street signs or menus right on the screen. Simply select the camera icon within the app and hold your phone over the text - a translated version should appear on screen above the foreign text.
911 is not universal. Despite the dated interface, this little app can come in very handy in emergency situations. The free version displays emergency numbers including ambulance, fire and police for every country. You can also select your country of residence in order to see country prefix codes from across the globe. The Pro version ($1.49) will also show the location of various embassies on a map. Better safe than sorry.
This is a fun one. Pack Point allows you to enter your trip details (destination, duration, anticipated activities) and it generates a suggested packing list for your convenience. Best of all? It creates an "essentials" list comprised of those little items you're most likely to forget. Tampons? Medication? Extra battery for your phone? Check, check and check - Pack Point will have you covered.
Ever book a flight and were stuck in the worst seat on the plane? Say goodbye to the days with no legroom thanks to the handy dandy Seat Guru app by TripAdvisor. The app allows you to enter your flight details to display your plane's seat map and offers advice on what seats to avoid and which ones are optimal. As an added bonus, you can also book flights and check the flight status right from the app.
Currency exchange apps are essential but with so many available for download, it's not easy to tell which one works best. I find this to be the most reliable one; it has an easy to use interface and a comprehensive currency database to chose from. You can build a bank of "favorite" currencies for ease of access. Rates also automatically update if you are connected to Wifi or use data - otherwise, the app displays the latest available rate.
If you're looking for ideas about activities or extended trips for your next destination, Viator has you covered. Their catch-phrase is "travel with an insider" and I can personally attest to that. (I've used Viator on multiple occasions including our day trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina.) You purchase your tour online and redeem with the local tour operator. Leave the logistics and planning to someone else for a change!
Trip Advisor's "Downloaded Cities" Function
We all know and love Trip Advisor - but there is one feature within the app that you may not know about and it may change your life. On the app's landing page, you will find a button that reads "Downloaded Cities". This allows you to save major tourist destinations offline and access detailed maps, suggested walking tours and a load of other recommendations on the go!
Last, but certainly not least, we have AirBnb. If you still don't know what this service is all about, you must be living under a rock. And if that's the case, have you considered renting your space with AirBnb? Between AirBnb and hostelling, I cannot even begin to tell you how much money we've saved while travelling. Sign up here to receive $27 off your first booking.
Do you have a go-to travel app I don't know about? Share your wisdom with me in the comments below.