Travelers today are super lucky as we get to explore the world with some of the conveniences of home on our smart phones and tablets. I am definitely a digital nomad and don’t understand the travelers that try to escape technology. It’s like a badge of honor to say you travel without a cell phone, tablet, or computer for some people. Not me! I loved my gadgets before I traveled and I definitely love them now.
You just can’t beat the convenience of having the internet at your fingertips and many of the apps on my list I just couldn’t survive without (Google Maps for one!)
So to get you prepared for your next trip, I compiled the apps that I use everyday on my Samsung Galaxy SII Android phone.
The Travel Apps You Just Have to Have
Making long distance international calls that cost a fortune is a thing of the past with Skype. All you need is a WiFi or cell tower connection and you can make and receive calls. You will experience challenges with call quality depending on the country you’re in and the speed of your internet connection.
Viber is a text messaging application that works free over the internet. It has all the bells and whistles you’d expect but it also allow you to make calls.
It probably goes without saying that a good map is a necessity while traveling. Google Maps is still the hands down favorite when it comes to functionality and accuracy. No internet connection? That’s okay you can save maps offline to your phone or device so that you can still access the map without an internet connection.
Oanda Currency App
I use Oanda for the great little Android widget that comes with the app. Add it to your home screen and you have a quick breakdown of currency values in increments so you can get an at-a-glance view of how much you’re spending. This comes in particularly helpful when you’re in a new country and are not yet used to the conversions from your local currency.
Hostelworld / Hostelbookers
I’m lumping these two competing hostel brokers together as I don’t actually book using them. I do however use them to get some ideas on where to stay when I arrive. I find that just showing up means you pay less and I haven’t yet run into a time where there were no beds or rooms available.
The most frequent sign you’ll see traveling isn’t Coke or Pepsi, its TripAdvisor. Just about every business out there is on TripAdvisor so it’s a site I often check to see the reviews of hostels, hotels, activities in a particular area, or restaurants to check out.
I’ve found that Google Translate is very accurate when it comes to translations in Spanish which for me offsets the fact that you need an internet connection to use the app.
Nook or Kindle
These are the only two e-readers I would consider using as you can use them on the hardware from Barnes and Noble and Amazon or you can download the app on your computer, tablet, cell phone, etc. This means that no matter what you always have options for reading your books and aren’t locked in to the hardware you buy. (My Nook broke but I’m still reading my books on my phone and my laptop)
Adobe Photoshop Express
There are a lot of photo editing apps out there but I just discovered that Adobe, the trusted maker of Photoshop, has released a free basic version of Photoshop for cell phones. It allows you to do some cropping, corrections, and more.
It should go without saying that Facebook is a necessity to keep up with friends and family while you’re away and to also keep track of the new friends you’ll make on the road. I never stop being surprised by travelers I meet that still have not adopted Facebook. Come on! It’s just silly to write down email addresses and names in little notebooks in this day and age.
To compare multiple currencies I prefer to use the XE Currency app. It makes it easy to see where your money is going when you transition currencies. I also use it as the basis for all my budget and spending tracking.
If you’re traveling with a cell phone of any kind then you’re probably going to take pictures or videos on it. When my cell phone was stolen in Nicaragua, the only thing that prevented more than a few tears was the fact that I had Dropbox installed. I only lost the photos I had taken in the last day or so that I hadn’t had a WiFi connection to sync it.
Even though you’re traipsing around the world, it doesn’t mean that you should forget about what’s going on at home or in other areas of the world. Sure at first its fun to have no clue what the rest of the world is up to but that fades and you’ll want a good, quick, source for news. Flipboard is it. It compiles news or articles from sites you select into a sweet interface that makes navigating through all the information a joy. You can even add your Twitter or Facebook info to see content from those sites too.
Keeping track of your spending on the road can be difficult. Keeping up with the money that’s still in your bank accounts doesn’t have to be. Mint is a site that compiles all of your financial institutions into one page so you can quickly see your account balances. Categorize your transactions and you can also get reporting on where your money is going. I’ve used this site/app for years and couldn’t manage my finances without it.