I don’t know about you but my life’s blood runs through my smartphone.
I can’t remember phone numbers anymore, or how to do long-division, and I certainly don’t remember if I need to pick up coffee from the grocery store or the name of that particular brand of avocado dip that I like. But that’s just my everyday stuff.
However when I travel, I have much more to worry about. Am I right? And as a solo traveler, I have to rely on myself for everything which means that I must have all information at my fingertips in an orderly fashion: flight times and flight numbers, Uber or Lyft or private transfer, train or bus schedule, the code to get into my rental house or the safe in the room, where my car is parked at the airport parking lot, what time is the van coming to pick me up for my full-day tour, etc?
And… so that I worry less, especially for international travel, I’ve got a few apps that have been game-changers and have kept me on point for several years running. Not including email, notes, social media, and ride-sharing apps, I rely heavily on the following 15 free smartphone plus one paid travel apps.
These six apps are my must-have absolutes for international travel:
The Smart Traveler app allows easy access to frequently updated official country information, travel alerts, travel warnings, maps, U.S. embassy locations, and more.
Create a login/password and add your itinerary for emergencies, such as: nature and weather disasters, protests, etc.
Use the Umapped (formerly MyTripRoute) app as your mobile travel companion for your itinerary, recommendations, and also to collaborate with travelers in your group to post photos, videos, notes and locations. It even updates flight changes.
When I send you your final itinerary, everything – all your documents – will be added to this app.
Because you probably don’t speak the language, the Google Translate app is a personal interpreter in your pocket. Text, speak, take a picture or use the camera to help with translations.
Also, download the full language file for when you’re offline.
To know how much the US Dollar is worth at any given time, the Xe Currency converter app uses live mid-market rates.
Purchasing power abroad is in the details, don’t overspend.
It’s always best to tip appropriately and the GlobeTips app includes a full tipping guide for 240+ countries and regions with bill scanning and sales tax exclusion, bill splitting and tip amount per person.
You can also remind, copy and share a bill with your group.
So that you don’t have to pay international rates, WhatsApp let’s you send and receive text messages, calls, photos, videos, documents, and voice messages.
Also, most tour companies and drivers around the world use it to communicate with foreign travelers.
The following 9 apps are essential and helpful:
The Mobile Passport app enables U.S. and Canadian passport holders to save time during the entry process at most major U.S. airports and cruise ports! Securely submit your passport and customs declaration form in the app so you can bypass the regular lines and follow the signs for Mobile Passport Control.
It’s not at all US airports but I always have it ready just in case.
The LoungeBuddy app allows you to quickly search nearby airport lounges, assess available amenities and buy a day pass.
It provides reviews and detailed entry information for all airport lounges around the world, not just the ones you can book with them.
Snapseed is a photo-editing app that enables users to enhance photos and apply digital filters.
It’s my go-to every time I want to post a photo online. Most often I use the Accentuate and Portrait buttons for quick enhancements.
Lightroom is a powerful photo editor and camera app. It’s easy-to-use tools like sliders and filters for pictures simplify photo editing. Retouch full-resolution photos, apply presets and start photo editing wherever you are.
This is my second go-to app before I post photos; I usually use the Auto button for that extra zing in enhancements.
Over 220 countries and territories mapped and hundreds of millions of businesses and places on the map.
Come on, if it’s not on Google Maps, it doesn’t exist!
Explore every day and discover new places, be inspired by stories from the Lonely Planet community and start planning your next adventure.
I have yet to visit a place that wasn’t found in this Trips app.
Get helpful, positive tips from our trusted global community and keep track of where you you’ve been and where you want to go, all in one place.
The Foursquare app has some pretty reliable restaurant reviews and community pictures for cities all over the world.
Whether you’re after flight, train, bus, ferry, rideshare or rental car info, the Rome2Rio app has estimated duration times and prices between destinations in more than 160 countries.
I use this app for everything: when I’m traipsing across a country or several countries to find the most efficient travel option.
The U.S. is one of the few countries that still uses the Imperial system of measurement so the Units Plus app converts everything to the Metric system for weight, length, area, fuel, mileage, speed, temperature, volume, etc.
Very handy indeed.
Honestly, I don’t know how I did all that when everything used to be printed out on paper!
Here’s a bonus app that is essential but not free:
Go online safely with this app; it’s engineered to protect your privacy and security. It comes in multiple device packages to protect computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
I have it on at all times, even with the free WiFi on airplanes.
Whatever you do, get yourself a VPN app as you travel because most “free WiFi” such as Starbucks and McDonalds has lurking hackers nearby just waiting for you to login to your financials. Don’t take that chance!
Do you use any of these apps? If so, which ones?
If not, what are your must-have travel apps?