Why not use your technology and its tools to ease your travels and make your experience abroad easier? In an age when our cell phones have become a staple of life there are many apps that can be of great assistance and can ease many aspects of your travels. From messaging to temperature converting apps the array of apps and tools is great and a few staples are essential. Here are some of the most popular apps out there that are available for both iPhones and Androids.
Skype: Nothing beats skype at allowing travelers to make video calls relatively easy. This well know app is a staple that also allows you to text and leave message in case your recipient is not online. Pros: calls are free through an internet connection. Drawbacks: recipient must be log in in order for you to chat, network connection speed greatly affects the quality of the video call, and you must pay for credits to use the app to call regular phones.
WhatsApp: This messaging app is popular throughout the world because it is free to use over networks or wifi access. Its simple interface allows you to communicate instantly with loved one abroad. It also allows you to easily share pictures, locations, and create groups to share information with.
Viber: Toss those phone cards away and install this app which allows you to make calls to anyone in the world that has already downloaded the app. Although you cannot make video calls, like with apps such as Skype, you can still text and send short video messages. A great feature of this app is that it does not require a great internet connection to make the call. Pros: free phone calls and stable calls regardless of connection speed. Drawbacks: no video calls.
Money and banking
Oanda and XE currency converter: Remembering exchange rates can be hard, but this app makes these conversions easy for you. In both of these apps you can toggle between countries to find the conversion rates easily and quickly. Pros: easy interface that allows for quick conversions and it does not require a network or internet connection to make the conversions. Drawbacks: you must be connected to a network or the internet to have the most up to date currency exchange rates.
Google Translate: This app can save you in a bind in a foreign country. With hundreds of languages available, it is easily adaptable and has a wide data base. Beware though that the things can get “lost in translation” as this app translates words literally without any context which is essential to understanding the meaning of words or even finding the right translation at times. Regardless, it is a quick access tool that replaces a bulky dictionary while traveling. Pros: quick access to the translation of thousands of words in many languages. Drawbacks: for some languages you must download the dictionary while connected to the internet as they are not available by default and translations are literal and can be inaccurate.
BBC Weather or Weather Channel: As you travel knowing the weather and how it may change can save you from many uncomfortable situations. Both of these apps are similar in that they allow you to see the current weather and the forecast pretty much anywhere in the world and for at least a week in advance. They also allow you to set your destination cities as favorites so that you can access that information quickly. Pros: multiple weather locations available and relative accuracy. Drawbacks: you must be connected to a network or the internet to get any of the weather information.
Smart tools: This multi-purpose app allows you to convert any unit of measure available into what you want or need. You can easily select the existing unit and then the one you need to convert it to. It is particularly useful for those of us traveling from the US that do not use the metric system. It also very handy for making the temperature conversion between Fahrenheit and Celsius. Pros: easy conversion of all measuring units. Drawbacks: interface does not recall recent uses and requires you to search for the specific conversion area within the app each time you open it.