5 Must-Have Apps for First Time International Travelers

February 12, 2014

11:00 am

Sipping wine in a Tuscan vineyard, eating crepes along the Seine, diving on the Barrier Reef, and photographing wildlife in the Serengeti have all played out in the realm of your daydreams. Now that it’s time to make your dreams reality, the thought of planning your first international trip may feel overwhelming. Don’t get lost in flight plans, hotel recommendations, exchange rates, and language barriers before you even hit the road. A tablet that’s loaded with the right apps can guide you through the process all the way from selecting a destination to purchasing souvenirs.

Kayak

There are dozens of apps for booking flights and hotel rooms, but Kayak eliminates the need for all of them by comparing all of the major travel sites to find the best deals. This tool not only helps you book flights to the places you know you want to go, it also helps you discover destinations and adventures you never dreamed of. Its “explore” feature displays a world map and shows you flight routes, along with the estimated cost, to even the most remote locales. Best of all, this powerful app is free on both iOS and Android.

TripIt

Forget fumbling around with paper itineraries or searching through your inbox for confirmation emails. TripIt will store all of your travel plans, flight information, hotel confirmations and activities in one convenient location. You don’t even need to set up or organize anything. Just forward your confirmation emails to [email protected] and the app will automatically create digital itineraries and give you directions and weather information. The basic version is free on iOS and Android, or you can upgrade to the Pro version for $49 per year to get flight alerts and track points, seats, and fare refunds.

Packing List

If you’ve ever arrived in a foreign location and suddenly realized you didn’t have a toothbrush or a change of socks, you know how important a packing list can be. The Packing List app starts with a master list of items and lets you add, edit and create you own list. It also saves you from expensive fees for overweight bags by helping you estimate a weight for each item. You can also sort or organize your list according to which items should be packed into each piece of luggage. At $1.50 on the Android network, this app is a small price to pay for never forgetting your toothpaste again

Google Translate

From ordering your favorite wine to asking for directions to your hotel, you’ll need to be able to effectively communicate in your host country. With Google Translate, you can speak, type of even snap a photo of a phrase and have it translated into one of 70 languages. The app even works offline, which can be a lifesaver in areas without Wi-Fi. And you won’t need to set aside part of your travel budget for this app since it is free on iOS and Android.

XE Currency

How much does a cup of coffee cost in Rupees? If a piece of art is priced in Francs, how will you know if you can afford to take it home? Any trip abroad calls for a currency converter, especially if you are planning stints in several countries on the same itinerary. XE Currency  easily converts between every major world currency and allows you to track up to ten different currencies at a time. It works in real-time, so you know you are using the most accurate conversion rate. However, if you do not have an Internet connection available, the app will work offline with its most recent data. You won’t need a currency converter to figure out the price of this app since it is free on iOS and Android.

Guest author Victoria Campbell is a graphic designer that helps small businesses develop e-commerce sites to compete with the big boys.

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