Apart from making sure one has all the correct travel documents when travelling, it is equally important to have the right apps installed on your smartphone. They will not only make your life easier, but they will also save you money. These are the essential ones that I always have installed on any device I travel with. Of course there are also the apps for cities around the world that have great maps and information on the big tourist attractions in each city.
Tripit is probably my favourite smartphone app and it one that I simply cannot do without. What Tripit does is keep together in one app your entire travel itinerary from flights to hotel reservations as well as car hire and even train tickets.
The great thing about this app is how easy it is to use. Once you download and register, all you do is email your electronic ticket or confirmation details to firstname.lastname@example.org, it recognises you and automatically uploads your travel details to the app.
I love how easy the booking details are to read. All travel details like departure times, flight number, aircraft type, flight duration etc.
The free app has most of the basic features but the Tripit Pro version is the Rolls Royce and has some really cool extras. For example in the pro version you are alerted on flight delays, find alternative flights and the really cool extra is that you can track all your loyalty points on one page. Tripit is available for free for iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone. The Pro version will cost you $49 for the year.
2. XE Currency
XE Currency is the ultimate currency convertor app. The free app gives you live rates on your iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, or Windows device. What is great with this app is the flexibility to swap currencies around and see the pricing. You can add a number of different currencies and see the rates instantaneously. This is a great app when shopping and wanting to check how much you are paying for something in your home currency or even exchanging foreign money.
Data is always a big issue when travelling. Apps use data, even when we are not using them, they mysteriously talk to the mother ship, and we all know how expensive it is to roam. Personally I always switch off international data roaming on my smartphone and connect to wireless hotspots wherever I can to upload travel photos and check emails etc. Data is VERY expensive when you roam so my advice is don’t do it. Onavo is a brilliant free app for your iPhone or Android device that compresses data in a very smart way so that your smartphone uses less data. It displays reports in an easy way, so you can see exactly how much data the respective apps have used and which app burning away your app.
4. Google Translate
Don’t you dream of being able to know all the key phrases and be able to understand what those signs say in the foreign country you are in? Well, Google Translate is a brilliant easy to use app that translates words across 64 different languages.
A really cool feature of this app is that also supports 17 languages where you can also speak the language into your smartphone to get a translation. You can also get the translation read out in 40 languages to get a better idea of how to pronounce words. Google Translate is an essential tool when travelling to countries where you cannot speak the local language. It is free and available for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone devices.
Viber is a super cool app! This application is similar to WhatsApp that allows users to send instant messages across different devices. Viber goes one step further. Not only can you send instant messages but when you are connected to a wireless network and with some carriers 3G, Viber allows you to make free phone calls to anyone else who has the application installed.
It basically makes a VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) call across the network and the sound quality is amazing. I will never forget calling friends using Viber while being connected to an in-flight Wi-Fi service flying somewhere over North America, they could not believe me when I told them I was 35 000 feet overhead Oklahoma in an airplane. The quality was crystal clear. The app is free and is available for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry.
Another great tip when traveling abroad is to always try and get a prepaid sim card with a data bundle installed in the country that you travel in. Also remember to always look at for those free wireless hotspots. Most hotels, restaurants and airports around the world normally offer free access to their patrons.