The best online and offline translator on the planet. Offline quality does suffer as its AI does a much better job server-side. Type text, scan text with your phone’s camera, or even have a live conversation with speech recognition. The camera input mode is still very quirky as of 2019 and needs a lot of work to be properly useful — especially if trying to translate a menu.
With Google’s exhaustively massive POI database and ability to download offline maps makes this tool incredible versatile. Plus, socially share your experiences and reviews to gain “guide points” afterwards!
I’ll always mark my hotel, the location I parked the car, and airports with a heart. Places I haven’t gone yet get a green flag, and previously explored areas, a star.
For those who don’t mind handing more control over to Big Brother, Google Trips can track your flights, car rentals, hotel bookings, and restaurant reservations. It can even suggest nearby things to do and create a day plan of activities of attractions nearby based on what will be open. Transit and emergency information is also available. It’s a genius app, and even in its first few years, has filled some pretty high expectations with ease.
Uber/Local Taxi Apps
Uber will get you much better rates than a local taxi company, and you’ll never have to bargain or fight for a price. You’ll be able to track your driver on GPS to ensure he’s on his way, as well as confirm the route he is taking is the best to your destination. Drivers are publicly reviewed, and have profiles with their photos. Easily find your driver by matching up his license plate to that shown in the app. Additionally, never have to worry about language barriers as you’ll be able to input the exact destination in the app for them to see.
Getting frustrated with drivers no-showing or cancelling trips? Uber has various ride options when booking. Try one of the more expensive vehicle options to find a more serious driver. Avoid the car-pooling option when travelling as it can dramatically increase your pickup time or duration to a destination. Sign up using the code “joshh13619ue” to get $5 off your first ride!
LoungeBuddy & DayUse
Are you a travelling VIP or at least a princess in dire need of a shower? View and book airport lounges from around the world using LoungeBuddy. It features a complete list of amenities and supports in-app booking. They cover over 800 airports as of 2019. Even search by amenities if desired.
DayUse is another awesome app that allows travellers to book hotels for day-use only at a substantial discount. Need a power nap or a quick shower and don’t mind a short commute? This may be your layover godsend.
Navigating airports can be a nightmare. Instead of scrambling for the nearest directory, let GateGuru guide you with its built-in maps and over 200 airport guides. As in its name, it’ll also notify you of gate changes.
It’s not just for reviews anymore. Book activities in the app. Best of all, search for the “best of” nearby instead of sifting through pages of results that would be too far to commute. Restaurants, hotels, airlines, attractions, tours, you name it.
Yelp is a fairly decent alternative and occasionally offers up additional information that TripAdvisor can miss such as hours of operation.
It’s Friday night, and you’re not in the mood for fast food or trying first-come first-serve dining roulette. OpenTable allows you to quickly search for restaurants and guarantee a reservation time all online.
Expedia, Booking, AirBNB, Hostel World, Hotel Tonight, Kayak, Couch Surfing, etc.
There are countless hotel booking apps which will help search for the best deals. Skip the nasty web interface, and get the streamlined mobile app instead. Occasionally, these sites will partner with hotels and even offer mobile-only deals.
Currency Conversion App
My favourite one is by Jeffrey Grossman and is called “Currency” for iPhone. Realistically, I am sure they are all pretty much the same. But, it can’t hurt to develop a mental trick to do some quick math in your head to figure out prices on the fly as well.
Save copies of your important data in the cloud and flag it for offline viewing. From copies of your passport and credit cards to your travel itineraries and photos.
Hop into week or day view, and manage your itinerary and flights by hour. TripCase, another app I recommend, syncs with Calendar.app to import your flights, hotel bookings, and more.
Keep track of hotel and flight bookings. It will auto update with any airline changes as well. TripCase can also keep track of a variety of other booking details, should you wish it.
Alright, so you paid for dinner last night. I got gas the last three times. What about the hotel for last night? Who paid for that and did we pay in USD or Swiss Francs? Ack!! SplitWise allows you to input every travel expense as it occurs and then split the bill in various ways with other accounts. At the end of your trip, easily see a grand total of who owes who what!
After registering your cards with Apple Pay, you can use the Wallet app to “tap” anywhere it is accepted. This is great if you’ve forgotten your cards back in the hotel room or don’t want to bring them with you. However, do not expect all vendors to support tap.
GPS Kit Pro
Like a pro hiker, log your walking route as you move. Mark waypoints along the way. Whether you’re off-trail or in the jungle of suburbia, never get turned around again. It also syncs with Open Street Map to provide off-roading maps based on user contributions.
Whether it’s Telus, Rogers, Virgin, Koodo or any other carrier, get their app! It will make it easy to buy roaming passes and make account changes on the fly. Often these apps are excluded from data roaming fees if they’re downloaded in advance.
Most cell phones now have this feature built-in. If not, get any flashlight app to allow you to activate the camera LED (flash) on-command.
Keep yourself sane during long Uber rides, delayed flights, or flights without WiFi!
Music and Audio Book Apps
iTunes, Spotify and Google Music all offer the ability to download tracks and playlists for offline listening.
Download your bank’s app. Track your expenses. Often these will also allow you to confirm or reject fraud alerts and skip having to call in to reactivate a card.
Download these in advance to view local airplane media content such as movies and music without having to pay for inflight WiFi.
VLC (Video LAN Client)
This multimedia client has been around in the desktop world for decades. It is the most versatile with the largest number of media codecs I’ve ever found. It will play virtually any movie or music file and also allows you to drop huge amounts of offline content into it.
For messaging friends, family, and locals. Locals across the globe outside of North America use this in great abundance. Avoid text messaging fees and ensure your messages actually reach their destination. Internationally, I’ve found that many people will use it to send short audio clips back and forth instead of making calls. If you’re travelling in India as foreigner, be prepared for constant selfies and demands for your WhatsApp number!
Toss FaceTime. Skype is the best video conferencing app and will also allow you to make voice calls over WiFi.
The Weather Network or AccuWeather
Any app that allows you to input multiple locations, shows the sunrise/sunset, and doesn’t hiccup when you go offline like Apple’s native Weather app.
Scared you’re going to be forgetting something important? With PackPoint, users specify the duration, destination, and purpose of their trail. The app will then automatically create a packing and luggage checklist. But, it’s also a bit smarter than that. It’ll take a look at the weather forecast for you, and plan accordingly!
Social Media Apps
FaceBook, Instagram, SnapChat, etc. No explanation necessary.
Google Flights, SkyScanner, Hopper
Crucial to find the best deals on flights. Google Flights even has an easy way to view a calendar for the best days to fly in/out. It is substantially better than Expedia. With SkyScanner, save money by booking to/from flights with separate airlines.
Not for dating. It’s the easiest way to use its ‘Passport’ feature to match with locals in different cities and chat with them for travel advice. If you’re taken, make it clear in your profile that you are unavailable and also include a photo of both of you as your primary image.
If you decide to meet these locals, always do so in a public setting and avoid discussing the dates and times in your travel itinerary, or your hotel name. Have backup white lies ready if questions get too personal and uncomfortable.
This is a digital iPhone ‘keyboard’ mod that allows the user to type in one language and automatically have it translate into another. It will work in any app where you need to type. It saves time switching between apps, but as of this writing, is still a bit quirky.