I’ll be the first to admit: I download a lot of apps. Weekly I’ll go through the app store and see what’s new and popular; at one point I had over 300 apps on my phone. Before traveling I purged a lot of them to clear room for photos and downloaded new travel related apps. I’ve narrowed it down to 13 that I think most people either don’t know about or are unaware of cool functionality:
Obviously Google Translate can translate typed text to any language, but did you know it also allows you to speak or take photos of text and it will translate? This was especially helpful with Japanese menus and is something straight out of Harry Potter. It also helped my wife pick out beauty products at pharmacy and grocery stores in Greece.
A good way to get an overview of a new city is through Triposo. In addition to things like restaurant and attraction recommendations it also gives you cultural, transportation, safety, and language information pulled from wikivoyage.
I use Afar when I’m looking for hip recommendations that you won’t find in other tourist sources. It is somewhat limited in the areas it covers, but when it has a city/country it provides human-curated lists of suggestions. A great app to find hidden gems.
This is by far the best and most accurate weather app. In the US it gives you hyperlicsl weather notifications (using GPS it will tell you that it will start raining in 5 minutes). Internationally it isn’t as robust but I still trust it the most.
Being a vegetarian can be tough in some regions but Happy Cow can be a lifesaver. Based on your location it shows you nearby vegetarian/vegan restaurants or places that are veg friendly. An app like this is useless without data and surprisingly Happy Cow has a lot of it. We’ve discovered quite a few fantastic places that we wouldn’t have found otherwise.
I didn’t realize how popular Trip Advisor was until we started traveling. I’m not a huge fan of the usability of the app but you can’t beat the number of reviews and the coverage.
I’ve always been a big Foursquare user (it’s how our current location is shown on this site!). It’s a great way to find local recommendations, how many locals do you think write a Tripadvisor review vs leave a tip on Foursquare? My go-to use is to find the best local coffee.
There’s a million currency converters and I picked this one and like it. I don’t know if it offers anything different than the others, but the interface looked nicer so I’m sticking with it.
Looking to take cool photos in your new location? Trover shows you photos taken based on the distance from your current location. It’s a great way to find #foodporn places as well as street art and unusual vantage points.
Nothing new here… EXCEPT did you know that Google Maps will show your location even when you don’t have service? I was amazed by this and it was super helpful when we were lost with no service. It won’t let you search or offer turn-by-turn directions so make sure you star your hotel or destination before you leave wifi.
It can be tough to stay up-to-date on the world when traveling (and sometimes that’s a good thing). But when you do want to know what’s going on or you have some time to kill then you can’t beat NYT Now. It’s a free app that breaks down the day’s top stories for you but also brings in some other unique and interesting content.
So this is one app that I feel like could be a lot better but it serves it’s purpose (sometimes). When you’re stuck at an airport and want to see what food or shopping options are around then this should help. It doesn’t seem to have all airports or the most up-to-date information, but maybe that’s just the airports I’ve tried it at.
1/4 of this list is Google apps, but one last one… Inbox is invaluable when traveling (at least until the rumored Google travel app is released). Inbox will organize all your trip information and automatically remind you of relevant information. Having the email from your airline pop up at the top of your inbox the day before your flight with live information and easily check-in is great. A lot of this functionality is already built into Android, but this gives iPhone users a bit of the magic as well.
Have any other cool apps I should check out? Let me know!