By Noah Henry • October 29, 2013
We’re living in highly helpful times. No longer do we have to feel the urgency of being lost when we travel. Thanks to our smartphones, experiencing life abroad doesn’t have to flummox us to the point of enjoying our travels less. Here are the five best apps to help you travel intelligently and safely:
Offline City Guides
An app by TripAdvisor, Offline City Guides provides travel guides to 80 of the world’s top cities, including New York, Beijing, Cape Town, London, and Rio de Janeiro, among others. You can access thousands of reviews of restaurants, nightlife, and attractions without internet connection or data roaming fees. Travel a foreign city just like a local. In addition, you can follow self-guided tours created by TripAdvisor experts and create your own personal journal within the app.
Apple created iFly Pro to help frequent flyers navigate airports and keep track of flight statuses. It provides in-depth information on over 700 commercial airports, directing you to restaurants, cafes, stores, lounges, and even restrooms. You can access important airline details like baggage fees, route maps and numbers, as well as receive layover ideas (how to spend your time waiting). An integral asset to the business travel, iFly Pro lets you travel confidently, answering any question you might have.
The value of organization is paramount to frequent travelers. TripIt organizes your hotel, airline, car rental, and restaurant confirmation emails into one easy-to-follow itinerary. Simply forward your plan to the app and it automatically creates a detailed itinerary. Very-frequent travelers can upgrade to TripIt Pro ($49/year) and receive extended services like flight alerts, a point tracker, a flight finder, and a seat tracker.
Free Wi-Fi Finder
Free Wi-Fi Finder, via iTunes, instantly directs you to internet hotspots within your area. You can search more than 145,000 locations worldwide and filter by location type (library, café, etc.). Convenient for the business traveler or social media junkie, Free Wi-Fi Finder will detect the nearest locations and map the sources.
Say goodbye to the language barrier. Google Translate directly translates speech, handwriting, and text in photos. More than 70 languages are translatable, and you can even listen to your translations spoken aloud. No network connection is necessary with certain offline packages.
In our increasingly globalized world, new innovations in consumer travel products come out seemingly daily. If you travel a lot, accessorizing with these items will help you organize better, keep your money safe, and break through the language barrier with miraculous ease.
Ostensibly innocuous and thoroughly bland, the Grid It! holds secret powers of organization. It keeps your personal items and digital devices secure. Using rubberized elastics wrapped around a hard sheet of plastic, the Grid It! keeps your belongings firmly in place, strapping them in for a journey unknown. Sometimes the simplest products are the most useful. You can find it at Best Buy for only $22.98.
Women’s Trench Coat from SeV
Inspector Gadget would be proud. Underneath the guise of a hip fashion statement lies a flurry of activity—more than 17 pockets, magnetic enclosures, and stain-resistant fabrics. Chapstick? Check. Mittens? Check. Umbrella, sunglasses, wallet, lotion, camera, phone, binoculars, effervescent tablets? Check. You can get it at ThinkGeek for less than $120.
For the die-hardest adventurist, the SteriPEN is a must-have. This gizmo will kill any harmful bacteria in your water. Only 3.6 oz. and six inches long, the SteriPEN packs a powerful punch in respect to its portability, serving a variety of purposes, from consumption and cooking to sanitation and bathing. It sterilizes water up to 99 percent, destroying protozoa, bacteria, and other nasty viruses. Find it at REI for less than $50.
Reef Stash Sandals
Trick thieves by keeping your valuables where no one would guess to look. When you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of being shook down, rest confidently knowing you’ll get the best of ‘em. Going to the beach but only have room for a towel? Great—get some Reef Stash Sandals. Keep your money, keys, and credit cards safe without the need of an additional bag. Go to Reef.
While a sophisticated translation book is crucial for any newcomer venturing into uncharted territory, sometimes less sophisticated translations are needed, such as demanding where the nearest bathroom is while clenching your undersides. The MeNoSpeak is a passport-sized book consisting of simple, clear illustrations and critical phrases about bathrooms, food and transportation. All you have to do is point and say, “Me no speak.” Get your very own at the App Store or at Menospeak.com.
These useful travel apps and accessories will have you getting your Magellan on in no time.
Noah Henry Noah Henry is an amateur movie critic, foodie, bowler, and beer reviewer. But he's no amateur when it comes to saving money, so listen up!