In previous decades, traveling required quite the assortment of necessities, including guidebooks covering local attractions and destinations, foreign-language phrasebooks for easy communication, and maps to aid navigation, in addition to a professional travel planner to book your flights and hotels. Today, all of these things can fit in your pocket thanks to the smartphone. Whether you’re using iOS or Android, the app market has grown to encompass every aspect of vacationing, and thanks to widespread Wi-Fi access throughout most of the developed world, even those who want to avoid high roaming fees can enjoy using their phone abroad.
The most essential apps you should download on your smartphone are the travel planning apps. FlightTrack is a popular solution for keeping abreast of the myriad delays, cancellations, and gate changes you may face during air travel, while the process of booking a flight can be entrusted to apps like the free Skyscanner. Those who loathe the process of organizing all of the information provided by airline, hotel, and restaurant reservations should turn to WorldMate, which creates a personal itinerary with this information. TripIt is another popular solution for organizing and creating an itinerary. In addition, most online booking sites, including Travelocity and Expedia, have also released their services as apps.
Many of the restaurant review apps that you might use at home, like Urbanspoon or Yelp, are also incredibly helpful when traveling. Other, similar apps are designed specifically for travelers, such as TripAdvisor, which offers user-generated reviews of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and attractions around the world. Depending on your destination, you can also find hyper-specific apps focused on local attractions, like the Banksy Bristol Tour app, which guides tourists to the famous graffiti artist’s works in Bristol, England.
In addition, those traveling abroad may wish to download a translation app like Word Lens, iTranslate, or Google Translate, although learning to speak a foreign language is easier with a smartphone as well, thanks to the many self-teaching apps. Duolingo, for example, offers self-guided lessons in Spanish, French, German, and many other languages. Finally, Skype remains the gold standard of VoIP apps. Cheap international calls for pennies a minute are only a click away with the app and a Wi-Fi connection.