In less than a week I will be traveling halfway around the world, so I set out to find the best travel apps and mobile travel tips to help me prepare. Whether you’re a frequent flyer or planning a special trip, here are some gems to download on your mobile phone before takeoff.
Download a Dictionary app that has an offline mode. Google translate won’t work without being connected to the internet which won’t help in a pitch. Use your dictionary app to brush up on words while traveling and have a few basics down. The Dictionary App you download, however, will need to be specific to the languages you need as there are a multitude of options available in the AppStore. Just remember to read the description for an offline mode feature.
International travel connectivity has become largely dependent on wifi. If you have wifi, you have all of the international calling and data you need. iPhone to iPhone users can access FaceTime or iMessages on wifi to stay connected with friends and family without needing to change any messaging habits. Skype and WhatsApp have been come nearly universal when communicating cross-platform between countries. Do note however, that WhatsApp can only be activated using a mobile phone when setting up a new user account.
For directions, Google Maps on both iOS and Android have an offline mode to download maps. Even without data, you’ll be able to replace the cliche paper tourist map for basic nearby directions. Uber is banned in many countries and is not fully reliable for international rides as of yet. The best solution is to find who the regional competitor is to FlyWheel and then book your cab. By using an international taxi app, such as Get Taxi or Gett, you can enter in your pickup location, destination, and pay within the app to avoid any confusion on where you’re headed.
Depending how you booked your trip, Expedia TripAssist app keeps all your itinerary information in place similar to TripIt. For travel recommendations on my former Android phone there was TripAdvisor. While it may have been preinstalled as bloatware, it did have the benefit of an offline mode to save locations. For local recommendations while traveling, I’m giving Foursquare another shot and will report back on if the app still has any mileage left.
Lastly, go paperless with your boarding pass so you don’t have to worrying about how to get a printer to work in a foreign country. Most airports and airline mobile apps accept mobile ticketing nowadays, but be sure to check your specific carrier options beforehand. As a bonus, save a copy of your photo ID to Dropbox or camera roll for good measure.
Safe travels. See you in February!