Summer's coming around and with it is an opportunity to travel to countries in Europe and North America without freezing your nose off. Bundled in is the opportunity to escape the grisly Indian summer. However, before you pack and jet off, load up your iPhone with a few apps that might come in handy when traveling abroad, or even in India that will help with where you eat, what to pack and what to do in an emergency.
1. Xe Currency – Free
Keep the change
Xe is a currency converter app that updates as the rates change. It has all the major currencies and you should be able to see how much the rupee is worth against the currency wherever you are. Also, since it's common knowledge that changing money at the airport is usually a rip-off, you can use XE to keep track of the fairest deal you can get at various exchange agencies.
2. Kayak Mobile – Free
Multiple functions to help you with your trip
Ever since I got the Kayak application, I've used it everytime I've traveled or a loved one has traveled. Invariably, flights get delayed or canceled or even plans change. It's very handy to have the Kayak app to look at other options to get from point A to point B. Also, Kayak has a flight tracker feature which helps when you're waiting for friends coming in on a different flight in a foreign airport. The Kayak app also has phone numbers available for your airline, a guide on what you might want to pack, a currency converter and a price change (for flight tickets) alert.
3. Gogobot – Free
Grab your Gogobot
I almost put Google Places in here but Gogobot is so much more intuitive. The apps work on the same principle, finding interesting things to do. However, Gogobot allows you to get insider tips on your upcoming destinations from your friends as well as build your own itinerary on the go.
4. Help Call – $2.99 (approx Rs. 155)
Always have access to help
This one I would almost call essential. It's always been easy enough to remember 911 but emergency phone numbers in other countries are all a little different. Furthermore, some countries may not consolidate all emergency services into one hotline. Help Call currently works in 126 countries, including India. It's a little expensive at $2.99, however, especially if you're traveling with someone who has a pre-existing condition, this app will aid in less floundering at times of distress.
5. Google Translate – Free
Translate even by voice
In a few places, particularly those in Europe, it helps to have a translate function on your phone to be able to read signs like Restaurant and sometimes even Male and Female (restroom nightmares!). Of course, what would help in places like the Eastern European countries where Roman script isn't used as the language's script, is an augmented reality app like WordLens. However, WordLens is only available for Spanish and French currently. Furthermore, while the app is free, each dictionary costs $9.99 (Rs. 518). And that's just for one-way translation so just for Spanish to English, not vice versa. If you do not have internet on the go, it helps to have a basic dictionary available on your phone without internet. For instance, Bit Knight does a decent Italian dictionary (as well as other dictionaries) which saves to your phone, so you will not need data.
6. Hostelworld.com – Free
For a roof over your head
Say you get to your destination and you're not happy with the hotel or hostel you booked. Your Kayak application should help you get a small list going, however, for a more detailed list, including smaller hostels, check out the Hostel World app. Hostel World is particularly helpful for places to stay in Europe where living for between 20-30 Euro a night is entirely possible, just after some research.
7. Lonely Planet Travel Guides – Free
Just how lonely is this planet?
I'll be honest. I've bought a Lonely Planet book for almost every place I've been to. And while it's a cool collection to have as reminders or even souvenirs of the places I've traveled to, it's a lot easier to have an app and not a big bulky book for somewhere you go. Granted it's a little pricey as you're paying $5.99 (approx Rs. 310) per book, however, the Lonely Planet does have a good set of guidebooks and can be very helpful once you're at your destination.
8. Urbanspoon – Free
Born with an urbanspoon?
Now, while Gogobot is a great way to find things to do in your destination, it's important for you to eat the right food. Urbanspoon not only makes sure you have a restaurant name for a goal, it also gets you to the restaurant. The app uses GPS to map your position and draws up a route for you for your selected restaurant. You can choose a budget and a cuisine. The problem with UrbanSpoon is it only works so far in the US and Canada, with partial coverage of the major areas in the UK and Australia. However, if you're traveling to any of these places, be sure to eat the local best.
9. Packing Pro – $2.99 (approx Rs. 155)
Pack like a pro!
Sometimes you might go somewhere and you have absolutely no idea what to pack. You can always check the native weather app on your phone for forecasts in your destination but things like mosquito repellant, sunscreen, medication and others are always handy to have and this app will tell you what exactly you should take. You can also create your own list so you have a reference when you're packing. The lists that the app itself provides can be edited and customized for your needs.
10. TripIt – $3.99 (approx Rs. 207)
Don't trip over your trips
It gets annoying to have various pieces of your travel plans sprawled across various parts of your phone or notebooks and whatever else you might carry. Tripit keeps all your information, including your flight itineraires, your hotel reservations, information for multiple trips within trips if you have them and any other information you might need on one specific trip. You can email your plans to yourself or anyone, sync your calendar from your computer with the app and import information from emails right into the application. There is also a free version of the app available, albeit with ads, in the App Store.
So now that you have your travel guides, packing help and emergency information you're all set. Bon voyage!
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