Whether traveling close to home, or overseas, apps for your cell phone can make your travel experience so much easier. Learning to get the most out of our phones has taken a lot of guess work and worry out of our travels. Phone apps have helped us find everything from a good restaurant to an ATM, to the closest toilet, and so much more.
There may be a small learning curve, but once you have it down, an app can make a world of difference in your travel experience. Listed below are the top 10 apps we use when we travel. Some of these are probably already on your phone, and they are all free to download and use.
This one is indispensable! When we arrive in a new location and settle into our accommodation, one of the first things we do is open up Google Maps and type “Restaurants Near Me” in the search box. This will bring up pins on the map with restaurants and their ratings.
It also allows you to pull up a list from the bottom of the screen where you can access photos, menus, and reviews of restaurants. I also utilize it for finding an “ATM near me” or a “pharmacy near me”, or anything else I’m looking for. You can also save a location on the map, so you don’t forget about it later.
The best thing about ride apps is that they cut out any type of price negotiation with a driver and overcome any language barriers that may exist. Many countries use Uber, and once you download the app, you can use it in any country that has it.
If a country does not have Uber, they will have a ride app of their own. For example, in Thailand we use Bolt, in Cambodia it’s Pass APP (this one also gives you the option to pay cash), and in Malaysia it’s Grab. They all work basically the same way. The costs show up in the local currency, not US dollars, and you also know that you are being charged the same price as the locals.
A nice thing about ride apps is that you can also use them for food delivery. This is a great feature during inclement weather or if you just don’t feel like going out. We used Uber Eats several times in Mexico and in South Africa, and Grab Eats in Malaysia. Please check out our latest video in Kuala Lumpur.
If your bladder isn’t what it used to be, and you feel more comfortable knowing where the closest restroom is, this app is for you! We use one called Flush. It will show you a map of the toilets closest to you, if they are free or pay toilets, if wheelchair accessible toilets are available, if they are a Western style (sit) or a squat toilet, and even reviews if users have left any.
This is one of my favorites. It lets you make free phone calls, send texts, and even free video calls from anywhere you have an internet connection (this keeps you from having to use your data). Whether I call my kids or they call me, we always use the video call format so that I can see them and the grandkids. Having that face time is priceless! You can only call a party that also has WhatsApp installed on their phone.
It’s good to have a weather app that is detailed and even has radar on it, like the AccuWeather app. This comes in very handy when planning your day, especially if you are planning an outdoor activity. The radar feature allows you to see if a big storm cell is moving in. This has been invaluable to us while in SE Asia during the rainy season.
This free app is wonderful! You can choose what language you want a word or phrase translated into, type it in and it gives you the translation in the language you chose, along with the option to hear it spoken. Press the little speaker icon and you can hear a word or phrase repeated as many times as you need.
Another great feature lets you choose the camera icon, click it and your camera will open. Hold your camera over the menu, sign, directions, or whatever you need to read, and it will be translated into English for you. You can even have a conversation with someone in another language as the app will allow you both to speak and it will translate for both of you.
We use Xe. It has exchange rates for over 130 different countries and provides the current exchange rate of a country’s currency against the US dollar. If you are making any large purchases, you can use the app to convert the price into exactly the amount you need. It’s good to monitor this every few days because you would be surprised at how much a currency can fluctuate.
We love Airbnb! It’s a convenient way to book a place to stay that can provide the amenities you are looking for. When staying a week or longer, Airbnb can provide some deep discounts. This has been a real money saver for us!
The app matches you with a house or apartment pretty much anywhere in the world. You can set parameters for your price range, amenities, and even wheelchair accessible or no stairs. We always look for one with a kitchen and a washing machine.
Airbnb works on a rating system so you can read reviews from people that have recently stayed in a property you’re interested in. The host also rates you as a guest and other hosts can see what your rating is as well. The Airbnb app also provides a large selection of local tours and activities that you can book directly through the app.
This is another a great app for finding a place to stay. When we are not booking a long stay in which we will need a kitchen and a washer, we use this app. You can often reserve a room without entering your credit card details. Also, it often allows for free cancellation in case your travel plans should change. Very convenient! The more you use this app, the cheaper your stays get as it provides frequent user discounts.
This is a must have. There is a YouTube video for everything. If you want to learn something new, or visit a new place, there is a video that will teach you about it. Wherever you are planning to go, somebody has made a travel video about it. This is valuable information that can tell you what there is to see and do, good places to eat and stay, where to shop, how to get around, and so much more.
We find it a great source of travel inspiration. There are several travel channels that we follow which ultimately led us to start our own journey of slow traveling the world along with our own YouTube travel channel called Over the Hill & Far Away.
Please check it out!
Apps aren’t just for social media, playing games, or taking pictures. They can make your travel experience so much easier and rewarding. Don’t be afraid to try some out.
Do you hesitate to use apps? Why? Do you have some favorite apps you use for travel? Do you use an app that you would recommend to others, travel related or other?