My phone has become one of the most important pieces of technology I carry with me when I travel. Not only does it let me capture memories with its fantastic video and photo capabilities, it lets me share them with the world while also managing to keep in touch with family and friends. Free WiFI nearly everywhere you go allows you to access the amazing applications available on your smartphone, so there isn’t much need anymore for a foreign Sim card with its complicated and expensive data plans. Below I have summarized my favorite top 10 apps I use all the time when bouncing from country to country.
*I didn’t include Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter as I take them to be an industry standard for applications.
I like to frequently send photos and quick text updates to friends detailing where I am and what I’m up to and Whatsapp allows me to do this quickly and easily. It doesn’t cost anything to send the photo like normal MMS or SMS messaging would as all you need is WiFi, and you can quickly attach and send multiple photos with just a tap of the screen.
What better way to keep in touch with your family than with a video call over Skype? Nothing curbs homesickness faster than seeing my family and friends on my smartphone screen. The only tough thing about this app is if you have a poor internet connection the video can become blurry and choppy but it’s still worth it for those precious moments with loved ones.
Viber is the next best thing when calling home. It doesn’t use video but it acts like a phone over WiFi so you don’t need to have a Sim card. When I’m not able to Skype or need to get a hold of my family when they’re not at home in front of the computer, Viber is my best option.
If you’re hopping through multiple countries that deal in different currencies, a currency converter is vital and I prefer XE.com’s smartphone app. Having a converter handy also helps you quickly figure out if you’re getting ripped off by the shyster money vendors hanging around at the border crossing.
This app has been invaluable while on the road. It was so helpful in deciphering Spanish and help me put together sentences when cruising through Latin America. And the best part? You can pre-download language packages so you can access it away from WiFi which was really helpful.
Google Maps & Maps 2Go
There’s nothing more frustrating than being lost in a new city with no map to guide you back to your hostel. That’s why I take Google Maps or Maps 2Go (offline) with me. I pre-download the country I’m going to and this lets me look up my location and destination no matter where I am. They often have points of interest and other important markers as well for extra information.
Wiki Travel Offline
If you’re heading to a city or town you’ve never been to before and you don’t know much about it, Wiki Travel offline is your best bet for thorough, up-to-date information about where to eat and sleep as well as what to see, do, and how to get around. It’s basically an online version of a guidebook, except it’s written and updated by travelers.
Google Drive & Dropbox
Nothing could be worse than having your camera or memory card stolen, so make sure you have all your photos and important files backed up on a cloud online. I like to use both Google Drive and Dropbox to safely store my precious memories while on the road.
One of the most important things when traveling is tracking your money, and your local bank’s smartphone app can help you watch your funds as well as make sure your account hasn’t been compromised while on the road.
Next to the importance of a banking app, is using a budgeting app to track where you’re spending all your pesos or dollars. I’m a fan of Iexpenseit or Mint, depending whether you use Apple or Android.