I’ve read a lot of blog posts about travel apps you ‘must have,’ and you probably have too. It can be hard sometimes to tell what’s necessary and what’s not when it comes to apps, especially since each one bills itself as essential. I’m one of those people who: a) never pays for apps, and b) doesn’t have room on her phone for excessive apps. I’m here today to look at what apps on my phone I used over the last few months of traveling and living in a foreign city so I can give you the simplified version of just what you really need.
Xe currency – This app is a lifesaver when it comes to shopping in a foreign country, and it works without wifi. You just download the currencies you want and even when you have no internet, it can make the conversions. This is much easier than Googling currencies, and it updates regularly to keep on top of the ever-changing economy.
Banking app – Keeping track of your budget can be hard when traveling, especially when there are currency conversions, credit cards, and ATMs involved. Rather than carrying around a notebook and writing down everything that you purchase, or even marking it in a note on your phone, download your bank’s app. Most banks have an app and they’re usually free, so it’s an easy way to check how you’re doing at the end of each day so you know if you’re spending too much.
WhatsApp/Facebook Messenger – WhatsApp is the best messaging app I’ve tried – it tells you when your message is sent, delivered, and read, and it’s quite reliable. I used it for four months to communicate with my friends back in America and I rarely had complaints. I also used Facebook Messenger to talk to my family, and it has a calling feature. I didn’t know this until I went overseas but there are no extra charges and you can call from one mobile to another as long as you have internet. It isn’t the clearest but it’s reasonably reliable and can be great if you want to chat on the phone long distance.
Skype – Most of us don’t travel with our laptops, but if you’re on an especially long trip it can be nice to make a call home every now and then. In general I’ve actually found that Skype works better on your phone if you always have a lot of things up and running on your computer that can make it slow and finicky, so if you’re having trouble talking on your computer, you might try switching to mobile where the quality could be improved.
CityMapper – Downloading this before you go is the biggest city travel lifesaver. I relied on it every day to get around in London. You can program in ‘Home’ and ‘Work’ if you’re living in the city for awhile, but you can also simply ask for directions from one location to another. It tells you directions for walking, biking, getting a cab, taking the bus, and taking the underground system (if the city has one). It tells you the amount of time and cost of each option, and for buses and undergrounds there are timetables. It offers several cities in America and Europe but is adding new ones all the time.
VSCO Cam – I’ve tried many different photo editing apps but my favorite is definitely VSCO Cam. It has so many editing and filter options and makes photos look classy and professional. You can do all sorts of fixes to your photos – lighten, sharpen, brighten, saturate, tint, etc. – and then post them on Instagram to make all your friends jealous of the beautiful places you’ve been (even if they may not have really looked quite that beautiful in real life). I’ve personally been known to take a photo of an overcast day and brighten and tint it until it looked sunny. This app makes that and more possible.
Finally, a general tip – if you have an android, use the Dual Clock widget for a few weeks before your trip so you can get a feel of the time difference that you’ll be dealing with. Then once you’re there it’ll be easier to always know what time it is back home in case you want to make calls home.
If you have any other apps that have helped you while traveling or living abroad, comment what they are! I welcome any suggestions.
Photo credit – XE Currency, PNC Virtual Wallet, WhatsApp, Skype, CityMapper, and VSCOCam.