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When we think of useful travel apps we think of browsing the app store and downloading something useful to our phone.

And certainly, nowadays there are apps for just about everything; flight schedules, money journals, foreign language translations – there’s something to meet every traveler’s need.

There are many mainstream apps that almost everyone has; social media apps for staying connected, perhaps online banking to stay on top of your bills while you’re overseas, or if you’re traveling with kids, maybe you’ve installed an sms tracker on their phone.

But by the same token, there are also a range of apps that will make your life easier, that you may not have realized you need!

Travel Apps You May Not Have Realized You Need

Skyscanner

It’s true … every traveler desperately needs the free Skyscanner app!

Skyscanner is an all-in-one travel app which lets you search, compare and book the cheapest hotels, car rentals, and flights, and because it’s on your phone, you can book everything at once while you’re on the go.

Features of the travel app include receiving price alerts of daily cheap deals, and for the truly spontaneous, if you enter “everywhere” instead of a specific destination, it will pull up cheap flight prices to different destinations around the world from your closest airport.

The app offers the same services as their website—just more handy, convenient and fast. It’s simple and easy to use, and has been downloaded over 40 million times. Click for:

Apple Store free download (iOS)  Google Store free download (Android)

Google Translate

China

Google has a range of apps, though if you’re traveling internationally it can definitely help to have an international translator in your pocket.

Learning a new language can be extremely difficult and travelling presents you with a wide array of languages. Thankfully with the Google Translate app, you don’t have to learn all the languages as it allows you to translate over 100 different languages.

Don’t have data or Wi-Fi, no problem, as it can translate 59 languages with no internet connection. One of my favourite features is the instant camera translation which allows you to instantly translate text from nearly 40 languages simply by pointing your phone’s camera at the text.

Star and save translated words and phrases for future reference, take photos for higher quality translations, and translate bilingual conversations on the fly.

A VPN

Phone Mobile VPN

Virtual Private Networks (VPN) have been around for a while now, and while they might have previously been viewed by travelers as a ‘nice thing to have’, nowadays they’re internet security 101, and firmly on the list of “must pack”.

A program you run on your devices which gives you security and privacy when you surf the internet, the perks of using one as a traveler include getting access to region-restricted websites, minimizing your risk of being hacked while using public WiFi, and preventing your bank accounts and email from being frozen.

Hotspot Shield is one of the most reliable traveler VPN’s.

Don’t Overload Your Devices With Apps

Above the mainstream social media, and default apps like the camera, calculator, and torch, these are the essential 3 travel apps I have on my phone.

Wondering why the short post? It’s important not to overload the devices you travel with, otherwise you risk the chance that a full memory will see them become too slow.

Having a range of apps that you don’t often use also puts a strain on your battery, and you want to be preserving the battery life of your device when you’re overseas and don’t have a reliable way to re-charge.

So even if you don’t find that you need the above three, sort out a core set of essential apps that suit your travel style, that you use, and that are helpful for you. And wipe everything else off your phone!

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.

    

    21 Comments

  1. I certainly agree to NOT overload your phone with apps. (Many of these keep running and draining your battery.)

    And, I had no clue that Google Translate can work when there’s no viable signal. Cooooooool!

    • Google Translate is seriously fabulous, I can highly recommend it! I’ve been purging my phone of a lot of apps I don’t use to save on the battery and memory, but this one is a keeper 😀

  2. Google Translate and a VPN have been helpful to me Meg. VPN more so on my laptop as I do most stuff on there but the Translate thingee saved me in more than one situation.

    I recall house sitting at a villa in Bali for 6 months, and needing to use it when folks came to the property for various services. Especially one mechanic who showed up late on a Friday night to fix our motorbike. He only spoke Indonesian – not a word of Inggris – so our limited Bahasa did not do. Needed that app to help us through.

    Ryan

    • Amazing the barriers that a single app can help break down. It can make such a massive difference when you’re actually able to communicate effectively, especially in those regions of the world where it’s not common to understand English. And charades only gets you so far!!

      Glad you got your motorbike fixed without any issues 🙂

  3. This is probably one of the smartest ‘xxxx apps to have’ post I’ve read in a long time. Had ExpressVPN and Google Translate when I went to China. Really, that’s all you need.

    • Thanks Tony, glad you enjoyed the post! There are so many apps that are really cool in theory, but you really only need one or two when you’re actually on the move 🙂

      Glad you had a fab time in China! VPN definitely necessary there!

  4. I love Pocket. Not really a travel app, but it helps me always have something to read in those offline moments 🙂

    • Awesome! I don’t have that so I’ll check it out 🙂

  5. Hilariously now we’re travelling with kids we find the ‘Playground app’ is what we use most 😂

    • Whatever keeps them entertained is worth it’s weight in gold :D!

  6. You know I don’t use many apps at all. Might be my age! oooops 🙂

    • Not a bad thing, but some of them are definitely fabulously helpful 😀

    • Meg Jerrard I will try to be more progressive 🙂

  7. Trail Wallet is my best one!

    • Thanks! I probably do need one of those 😀

    • I’ll have to check it out, thanks for the tip! 🙂

  8. I’m totally guilty of travel app download binging. 50% of the time I never even open the app 😅 That stops today!

    • Time to clean up that phone :D!

  9. Skyscanner is a must for every traveller, for me, it’s the easiest way to search for cheaper flights if you still don’t use it – I’d recommend to check it out asap. VPNs are also very important, especially if you’re travelling to restricted countries like China or smth. I use Surfshark, so far never let me down. They sent me a discount code after purchasing, but I don’t need it anymore, so if the service is too pricey – use SURF1Y.

    • Sounds like we have very similar apps, great minds must think alike!Thanks for the VPN code, I’ve got Hotspot Sheild downloaded already, but maybe someone visiting this post can use the Surfshark code 🙂

      Happy travels!

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