When it comes to travelling the world, these days you don’t need to carry around cumbersome maps and guidebooks because virtually all of the information that you need can be stored offline in your handy little smartphone.
There are oodles of apps waiting around in the Apple and Play stores to help you with your trip. However, not all apps are created equal and so this article will take a look at some of the very best travel apps designed to help you navigate foreign and unfamiliar lands.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in a foreign country where you couldn’t grasp more of the language than a simple “hello” or “thank you”. Keep your hand raised if a situation overseas has necessitated knowing more than these basics but you didn’t have the language skills and so, lost in translation you had to fumble your way through an interaction either miming or repeating your request over and over in vain (and unrealistic) hopes that by the end of your encounter this person will magically understand English. Google translate is a lifesaver for this.
Either you can type the text into your phone and see the translation, or speak into it and it will translate for you. You can even take photos of street signs, food menus, etc that appear in other languages and it will translate for you – a much better option than just pointing at something on a menu and hoping for the best! Google translate may spew out obscure errors here and there but for the most part, it’s better than nothing!
Everyone who’s anyone has heard of Airbnb and the app has soared in popularity in recent years. Though some countries across the globe have banned use of the application (we’re looking at you New York!), it’s thriving in the majority and offers you the opportunity to travel “like a local” – either by enabling you to stay in the spare room of someone from the places that you visit so that they can show your their favorite parts of the city away from the tourist traps, or whether you decide to rent an entire home or apartment so that you feel like you live somewhere for a short while.
It’s common for the Airbnb hosts to offer you discounts for staying for extended periods of a week or more, and recently the app has extended its offering to include local experiences and events in the various destinations it covers.
Isn’t it infuriating when you arrive at your destination, you think that you have packed everything that you need and then you realize that a super important item has been missed? PackPoint is great because it saves you the stress of packing or the risk of having to spend time and money replacing items when you arrive at your destination. The app throws out completely bespoke packing checklists for you – all you need to do is enter your destination and your travel dates and it tells you what you ought to take with you.
It also questions what types of activities you intend to do at the destination, and then throws up suggestions of what to pack for them – super useful! You can also add your own items and ideas to the list that the computer throws up. It’s not 100% foolproof but it helps you to ensure you cover all bases and takes out some of the time associated with compiling a packing list.
Step aside, Google maps! There’s a new kid on the block. Maps.me is a great offline map app. You can download maps for various different cities and regions across the globe prior to actually arriving at them. The map highlights your location on the map and helps you navigate your way around. It also features lists of “categories” which work to provide you with information about the facilities close to you.
For example, one of the categories is “ATMs” which can highlight and give you directions to the nearest place where you can withdraw cash. Another category is “shops” and you can input the shop type you are looking for (butcher, supermarket, etc) or the specific brand/store name. The app can also be used like a satellite navigation system and provides directions and route information offline to use on foot or by vehicle.
Weather apps are super useful for helping you plan your vacation prior to departure and while you are away. Are you still certain Monday is a good day to take that hike after discovering that there will be monsoon-like torrential downpours that day?
Have you packed appropriately for all potential weather scenarios? The weather forecasts on AccuWeather are updated by the minute in real time and are based on the specific locale of the neighbourhood where you are, rather than a vague generalisation for an entire region.
Travelling with kids adds another layer of complexity to your vacation experience and gives you more things to consider for your adventures. Not only do you want to be sure to find kid-friendly resorts or vacation spots for kids that will give you plenty of space as a family unit, another concern can be keeping them occupied.
Fortunately, apps like Postino are great for grabbing their attention and passing some time. The app enables you to modify your travel photos and make them into cute postcards – something kids are sure to love doing while on long car or plane journeys. The all itself is free but there is a fee for printing the postcards. Consider using these apps on your next vacation to make travelling easier than ever.