As movies like Hostel, Cannibal Holocaust, and National Lampoon’s European Vacation have taught us, going to a foreign country can be a daunting experience. I mean, you don’t know the language, you don’t know the streets, and there are tons of people who make their living playing the turistas for saps. To make the R&R experience a little more restful and relaxing, here are some awesome travel apps you need to download.
Sure, I wouldn’t put my house up on it for fear of drug-induced orgies breaking out, but there’s really no better way to get cheap, classy accommodations abroad than AirBnB. Effectively Uber for home owners, AirBnB lets people put their abode up for travelers, nomads, and swingers to use as they will for very reasonable rates. Plus, if you’re a savvy traveler and completely shameless about taking advantage of your friends’ kindness, you can rack up a ton of travel credits by getting people to sign up using your referral code. Just try not to ruin your host’s wedding night.
Forget Tripadvisor or Yelp, Zagat’s city guides have helped travelers find the best restaurants, accommodations, and nightlife centres in cities across the world since 1979. Check out the Zagat app for a quick, clean look at the best and worst restaurants around you, except with way less of the embittered bitching and moaning from wannabe Eberts who think a restaurant review is the place to share the first draft of their mediocre coming-of-age novel.
There’s no quicker way to out yourself as a travel-casual than to be caught checking Google Maps on a busy Barcelona street corner. While Google Maps may be fine for traveling by car, if you’re trying to find you way around a hectic foreign city by public transit, there really is no better option than Citymapper. The app has up-to-the-minute updates on transit routes, in-depth of subway systems, and even shows you bike routes and ferry locations.
If you’re planning on doing a multi-country tour, it’s important to keep up to date on the latest currency fluctuations and make sure your $150,000 in Eastern European Monopoly money can actually buy you a loaf of bread once you cross the next border. XE Currency excels thanks to its live rates brought to you straight from the stock market floor thanks to the magic 4G. While there’s a Pro version for 2.79, the free version should be all you need.
It may not be as pretty as your phone’s pre-loaded weather app, but Weather Underground is perfect for someone who needs an in-depth weather forecast with all the bells and whistles, including radar and satellite views. The app offers hour-by-hour forecasts, wind direction, sunrise and sunset times, and even gives you access to webcams so you can see what the weather is actually like before you go somewhere. Hell, it even shows you what phase the moon is in, in case you were worried about getting mauled by a werewolf in London. The mess of information can definitely be difficult to read, but for a free app, the TMI offers great value. It’s also Apple Watch compatible.
Translation apps can be notoriously spotty – *cough* Google Translate *cough* – with some being better at text translations and others more useful for audio translations. iTranslate can translate whatever is said into it into around 90 languages, which is a little low, but offers highly accurate translations including different dialects and phrases as well as bilingual dictionaries. The premium version also offers audio playback for 27 languages which you can slow down and practice in case you’re really worried about sounding dumb in front of your cute server. Also usable with your Apple Watch and even your iPad, but seriously, don’t be that guy.
If you’re going to the Far East, or just to Chinatown, you should also definitely check out Waygo. the app offers the nifty ability to translate Chinese, Japanese, and Korean text into English just by taking a picture of the characters. Due to its highly specific selection and limit of 10 free translations a day, it may not be essential for most travelers, but you can’t deny it’s got a heck of a gimmick.