International travel can be daunting. Planning and organizing trips can take a long time but thankfully a large majority of us have smart phones. These little computers in our pockets not only take cool pictures and videos during our travels, they can also be used to make sure that we are well organized and help us while we are abroad. Anna and I have learned to utilize our phones to help us be more efficient so that we can worry less about logistics and have more free time to enjoy our surroundings. Here is our list for the Top 5 Phone Apps for International Travel.
The TripAdvisor website and phone app are our go-to places for travel planning. As travelers, we’re sure everyone knows about TripAdvisor’s user reviews and “Things to Do” list. It’s probably where you head to first to check out what do in a certain place. The TripAdvisor website also allows us to save into a list some of the places that researched to create an itinerary. While the website is more useful, the app adds functionality that we can’t get just with our computers. What we love about the TripAdvisor app is that we can download content for specific locations to use offline.
Although U.S. phone carriers have started to partner with international carriers to allow us to use data, the prices are high and the data speeds are typically around 2G/3G. Having downloaded offline content about restaurants and things to do is a huge time and money saver. Another plus is that your “Saved” items from the website can be viewed on the app so you pretty much can have an offline itinerary for your travel all in one app.
Many travelers have heard of or have used the TripIt website and app. While it is still a great tool for travel organization, we prefer the newer Google Trips app. Google Trips utilizes emails in your Gmail to help create your personalized agenda. But since it’s a Google product, you can also use Google Maps to plan out your day as well as get other personalized recommendations on things to do. It also supports offline usage. So if you’re a big Google users like we are, this app is extremely useful!
I don’t know about other travelers but I hate trying to do mental math all the time during our international trips. Instead of trying to figure out if you’re getting a good deal on something or getting ripped off, why not use technology to help? We pretty much have little computers in our pockets. Although some currencies like the Euro are easier to do the mental math since they are closer to the U.S. dollar, other currencies like the Thai Baht convert $1 U.S into 35.40 THB.
We’d rather not have to do that math on the spot. Our favorite currency converter app is Currency Converter by Designer Calculators. It allows us to see many currency conversions on one view and can also be used offline. One tip though is to allow the app to update with the latest information when you have Wifi.
The Currency Converter by Designer Calculators app is only available on Android but there are similar ones for iOS.
Learning a new language is tough and thankfully we don’t have to nowadays as many countries teach English as a second language. Most of us learn French or Spanish in high school but you probably haven’t used it much since then. Enter the Google Translate app. We love using this app while abroad as it is easy to type in a phrase and have it be converted to English. The app also allows you to download languages offline to use when your phone doesn’t have data.
One cool feature of the Google Translate app is that it allows you to use your phone’s camera to translate. You can simply take a picture of a phrase and the app will translate it for you. This becomes extremely useful for non-romantic languages since most people wouldn’t have the needed alphabet characters. Imagine trying to manually input Russian characters into your phone to translate. I’m pretty sure my phone is lacking the backwards R letter…
Many airlines have their own apps that allow you to check-in, track flight status, and make flight changes. While checking in and making changes are useful options, we mainly need to track flight statuses on our international trips. Regions such as Europe and Asia have many budget airlines that we tend to utilize to keep our costs low. We often just pick the lowest priced and shortest flights regardless of airline. Instead of having a plethora of apps for all the airlines to track flight statuses, we just use FlightAware.
The FlightAware app allows to view the most up-to-date information of our flights with search options of flight number, tail number, routes, and airports. One cool feature that we like is the ability to see information for the inbound flight. It allows us to look to see if the incoming plane is delayed or not which might our flight.
There are a ton of travel apps for both Android and iOS. We’ve tried many but this list is our top 5 for when we travel internationally. If you have any other recommendations, please let us know in the comments below!