Without a doubt, having a smart phone makes traveling much easier. There are just so many different apps out there that are useful for travelers. When I travel, I like to try out a handful of apps and decide whether or not they’re worthy of keeping. The main thing I look for though? Price. I just don’t want to pay for apps when I don’t know 100% that they’ll do what I want them to do. Throughout my travels I have tried and deleted so many apps, it’s just sad. There are, however, six free apps for travel that I will always have on my phone when I go abroad.
The 6 Best Free Apps for Travel
Traveling internationally means that at some point, you’re going to come across a language barrier. While I fully support learning key phrases in different languages, Google Translate is so helpful when you need that quick phrase you don’t know yet. While it’s not always 100% accurate in keeping up with local dialogue customs, there are so many useful features with Google Translate.
First, I love that you can download a language and use it offline. This means that you don’t have to be connected to wifi or use your precious data to get your translations.
Second, I love that you can “star” certain phrases. For example, I knew I was going to need direction help while in El Salvador. I saved some phrases I thought I might need and already had them handy when the time presented itself.
Last, it’s got a nifty feature to help translate written text. Simply hold your camera to the text on a sign, menu, etc., and the app will translate into English (or your chosen language) right before your eyes!
Google Maps is another one of my favorite free apps. Again, not completely accurate all the time, Google Maps is still so helpful in acclimating to the layout of your destination. You can search for nearby attractions or even basic things like grocery stores or ATMs.
When I use Google Maps, I will generally search for certain places while connected to wifi, then take screenshots and store them as maps in my photos. That way, when I’m away from the wifi and don’t have data service, I can still have an idea of where I am, and where I’m going.
Another map app? That’s right. I like HERE Maps for two major reasons. I like that you can plug in a list of points on the map, and save them. For instance, I saved all of my accommodation locations for my trip in Central America, and was able to use the map to find my way once I arrived in a new town.
Second, I love this free app because it works offline. Again, no need for wifi or data- you can use this map to find out where you are, when dropped off in a new and foreign location. This map worked amazingly in El Salvador. The only place it seemed to have accuracy issues was in Guatemala City, so just be aware that it’s not always perfect.
Another inevitable part of travel is using different currencies. Having the XE Currency app makes life so much easier when trying to sort out money stuffs. You can choose what currencies you need to know about and store them in your list. Then, you can compare what your home currency is worth in the currency of the country you’re visiting. In reverse, you can use the app while shopping, to plug in the price of your souvenir and see how much you’re spending in your home currency.
Okay, the Kindle app is free, but what about all the books? Well, believe it or not, Kindle has a huge selection of free, downloadable books for the app. Simply visit your kindle account and search for “free books”. Scroll through the list, or filter by your reading preferences. Download whatever looks interesting and give it a shot.
I do a lot of reading while traveling- During lazy mornings, in the hot afternoons, when its too dark to leave the hostel. Using the Kindle app allows me access to thousands of books, without having to take up room in my backpack!
I saved my ultimate free app favorite for last. Ladies and gentlemen of the United States, let me introduce you to Mobile Passport. The process of coming back into the United States after a trip abroad can be exhausting. Long lines, paperwork, passport check, etc. As an alternative to the traditional process of getting back into to the US, you can now use this app.
All you have to do is register and create a log-in for yourself. This will save your passport information to the app. When you’re coming back into the States, all you have to do is fill in where you’re entering, answer 4 basic yes-or-no entry questions and hit submit! The screen will produce a QR code- keep this screen up as you enter immigration. There will be signs pointing for Mobile Passport users to skip the lines. Simply follow the signs, scan your QR code and you are home! It seriously can cut out hours of waiting time.
What are some of your must-have travel apps? Tell me in the comments below!