Let’s be real: we’re all pretty much worthless without our smartphones. Honestly, who else feels naked when they forget their phone at home?
Whenever I travel, not only is it important that I have an international mobile plan so that I have coverage once overseas, but I also make sure I always have certain apps downloaded (and up to date) on my phone. It makes life easier x 1000 when you’re stuck in an airport surrounded by a language you don’t speak and a currency you don’t understand.
- Whatever airlines you’re loyal to, have their app downloaded on your phone. I personally have Delta, American, United and JetBlue on my phone, and whenever I’m running late to the airport (which is almost always) it’s so convenient to be able to check in from my phone and use that as my boarding pass.
- Uber or Lyft - Keep in mind that these apps aren’t valid in all countries or locations you’ll be traveling to, but it’s still better to have them for back up just in case. If you’re new to Uber, when signing up use code “jessicab91” for $5 off each of your first 4 rides.
- Another app for navigation that I love is CityMapper. It’s only available in some of the major international (and domestic US) cities, but they’re constantly adding more to the list and updating their records. Whenever subway/metro/rails/busses/walking/taxis/all the above are needed to get me from point A to B, I️ find this app to be preferable than using Apple Maps. The directions are so clear and easy to follow and keeps you on track in regard to time as well.
- TripCase is a wonderful organizer for all your flights and reservations. Once you have your email registered, whenever an airline sends you a reservation email you can forward it directly to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will automatically update in your app and sync up all flights, gate information, details about the city you’re traveling to, and more. If you get to a point where you have multiple trips at once, TripCase is so convenient to see everything together in one place in an organized travel timeline.
I’ve been using the free version of Currency+ for years and have never needed to seek out another solution. Imagine you’re at a market in Bangkok trying to haggle for some souvenir (that you don't really need, but just kinda want) and you’re able to get a stellar price because you’re aware of the currency conversion and know when you’re getting ripped off.
Also, another tip: whenever there is a language barrier you can just type a price into the screen back and forth with a local until you get to an agreement. I did this while in China for a dress and ended up getting it for about one-fourth of the original price.
Please, please, please don’t be a rude American abroad. That’s one of my biggest pet peeves that I come across when I’m traveling. You are visiting someone else’s country and home, so out of respect for them you should at least try to learn a few of the basics like hello/goodbye, please/thank you, etc. You would be amazed and what a difference that little act of kindness can do and how others will treat or welcome you.
I use Google Translate for all my go-to moments. But I have DuoLingo on my phone to help me practice other languages, and when I went to Russia a couple times I have an app called Russian LT that helped me learn a ton of phrases including working on the pronunciation of words.
Side note: Americans tend to be SO loud when speaking with others while abroad. Whenever I'm traveling I can always point out who is from the States, not because of what they're saying exactly just because I always hear them first and loudest. So maybe just take it down a couple notches?
These aren’t necessarily apps to recommend, but tips regarding your phone for traveling:
- Bring a back up battery charger with you. You never know when you’ll be stuck in the middle of nowhere or on a train for 17 hours without a plug to use.
- Back up and delete all your photos/videos before you leave for a trip. The last thing you want is to be in one of the most magical places in the world and not able to document it because you’re phone storage is full. Womp womp.
- Check with your provider about international data, texting and calling. Coming home from a trip with roaming fees? Not cool.
Happy travels! See you at the airport?
I’ve found that life is always better when looking at the bright side. I’m a creative and inspired communicator with experience in marketing, public relations, new media + graphic design.