Psst! Don’t forget to scroll all the way down for the ‘bonus app’
A travel planning app
An ‘everything in one place’ app with your entire itinerary like TripIt or Trip Planner Pro. If you’re a semi-neurotic organised weirdo like me, you’ll like mapping out the main events of your day, complete with maps to and from the airport to the hotel (sometimes taxi drivers get lost too, OK?)
A ‘guide’ app
The TripAdvisor app let’s you download guides to cities which can be viewed offline (it’s my go-to for an overview of the place I’m visiting), but often cities have specialised apps geared towards travellers. Bali Bible, Hello Bali, New York Pass, New York Travel Guide and Offline City Map, and Park Guides are amongst my recent downloads. Other than that, lot of the Triposo city guides have proven to be useful in the past.
A language app
If you’ve read my last post, you know there’s nothing more irritating to a local person than a tourist who isn’t willing to make an effort to communicate in their language. Like that scene in ‘Before Sunrise‘ (I make a lot of movie references, and go off on a tangent often as might have become apparent, but I have a point to make here – I swear! Though it’s a really good movie, so if you haven’t seen it you should check it out)… Where was I? Oh yes, ‘Before Sunrise’- there’s this scene where Jesse and Céline ask a couple of Viennese guys what to do in Vienna, and Jesse opens with ‘Sprechen Sie English?’
Anyway, to get to my point (finally), avoid being ‘that guy’ or ‘that girl’ and download a phrasebook, dictionary, or language learning app. A few that spring to mind are DuoLingo, Speak Easy, Finnish Dictionary +, Learn Japanese, and a handful of the Trulingo apps (if you’re in Europe).
A Wi-Fi finding app
If you’re like me, chances are you avoid using data at all costs when you’re travelling, and even if you have a local SIM for the duration of your stay, data packages aren’t usually the most affordable. There are plenty of apps for both iOS and Android which help you find wireless hotspots. Some even distinguish free hotspots for you- one I’ve found to be useful in the past is Wi-Fi Finder, but really, there are a gazillion out there. An alternative is to use Skype-Wifi, which connects you to a network but only debits your Skype account for minutes used.
A communications app
Once you’ve found your free Wi-Fi, stay in touch with friends and family using apps like Whatsapp, Viber, and Skype.
A transportation app
When I was in Finland, I found apps like Reitit, a journey planning app to be indispensable. The same goes for SMRT, and Iris in Singapore, and Journey Planner in Brisbane. A little pre-trip research in this regard goes a long way.
A navigation app
In case you get lost, or just so you know where you’re going, apps like Google Maps, or even downloadable offline map apps like ‘City Maps 2Go’ and ‘TripAdvisor’ are helpful.
A currency converting app
Because sometimes, you need to work out how much you’ve spent on that antique crockery haul. My go-to is XE Currency, but there are a load out there.
A ‘where should I eat’ app
The equivalent of Urbanspoon, and HungryGoWhere for travellers who like their food.
A flight status app
I especially recommend downloading an app of this nature to keep yourself updated on your flight statuses. I was in NYC when Juno struck, and my Singapore Airlines app, SQ Mobile ping-ed to let me know my flight had been brought forward by six hours. No email, no text (as I’d swapped to an AT&T SIM), and the flight status online was still showing the old flight timing.
Ok, so maybe this technically means I’ve gone over the 10 app list. However, this is 1) not a travel app, 2) has limited usage (English-speaking nations only), and 3) not necessarily ‘essential’. I’ve recently rediscovered and fallen in love with several ‘Shakespearean insult generators’. Especially useful for someone like me who doesn’t have a good comeback in a heated argument!
Someone in cuts the queue whilst you’re waiting in line for fresh bagels- what do you say? ‘Excuse me’? Nah! How about:
“Thou warped boil-brained lobster!”
(from the iInsultThee app)
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