Make international trips a breeze with these mobile apps.
International travel can be exhilarating, rewarding, and eye-opening. But it can also be overwhelming without the right knowledge and tools. Figuring out new languages, currencies, and transportation systems, for example, are a big part of the journey. So make your trip more enjoyable with Eagle Creek’s top travel abroad apps for Android and iPhone.
Have you ever wasted a day taking a train in the wrong direction or trying to decipher confusing bus schedules? That frustration can now be a thing of the past, thanks to MetrO, an app that guides you through the transportations systems of more than 400 cities around the world with ease. Whenever you have a WiFi or data connection, download the guides for any cities you’ll need on your trip—after that one, easy step, no network connection is required. You’ll have offline access to finding the best routes from Point A to Point B, saving you from the expense of constant cab rides or the indignity of walking around like a clueless tourist with a map in hand.
2. XE Currency
Struggling with a new currency is never fun, and for anyone who’s ever misplaced a decimal and paid the equivalent of $100 for a $10 cab ride in a new country, it can be downright maddening. The XE Currency app converts every world currency with stored versions of the latest available rates, so that it can even be used offline—which is handy for those who are traveling abroad and opted not to buy a pricey international data plan. When connected to WiFi or data, rates can be updated with a simple shake of the device.
Cost: There is a free version as well as a Pro version for $1.99. The Pro version has no advertisements and allows you to simultaneously monitor 20 currencies, rather than 10.
3. Google Translate App
Starting to regret all those high school French classes spent daydreaming as you plan an upcoming trip to Paris? Make up for lost time with Google Translate. With more than 60 languages available, the app translates words and phrases that you type into it. You can even speak into the phone to hear an oral translation, if you prefer. Past translations can be stored for offline use, and phonetic spellings are available. Whether you’re trying to translate Malay to Maltese or Portuguese to Polish, this app will transform you into a digital polyglot.
4. Smart Traveler
Safety is often a top concern for those venturing outside the comfort zone of their own country. To help U.S. citizens have peace of mind when traveling abroad, the U.S. Department of State has created a one-stop app that provides travel alerts, locations of U.S. embassies, and easy access to its Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free program that registers your travel plans with the Department of State so that it may better assist you during emergencies, such as natural disasters or civil unrest. Should the unthinkable happen, that old adage “better safe than sorry” will seem especially appropriate if you download this app.
5. Ink Cards
You’ve arrived at your destination, have made your way across town using public transportation, have gotten a handle on the local currency, and have even learned a few basic phrases. Now it’s time to make everyone at home envious! The Ink Cards app allows users to snap a photo using their phone and, with just a few clicks, turn it into a unique, customized greeting card. The professionally printed 5” x 7” cards are then sent to recipients in your online address book via good, old-fashioned snail mail—no trip to the post office necessary. And don’t forget to record the contact info for new friends you meet from around the world, because cards can be mailed to just about any country on Earth.
Cost: The app is free, and each card costs $1.99 (including postage) to mail.
Alexandra Baackes is a traveling writer, designer, and underwater videographer. She is currently in her second year of living as a full-time nomad.