Best Travel Apps and Tech

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Like a lot of people, I rely heavily on my phone for directions, currency calculations, getting through lines faster, and looking up stuff to do in a new city. Here are a few apps (and tech!) I've used and loved to help me navigate in foreign countries.

WhatsApp

Okay, y'all. If you travel or have friends/fam outside the U.S. and don't have WhatsApp by now, I don't know what you're doing! It's the easiest and best messaging app where you can make voice calls, send pictures and video over Wi-Fi or your data. Download here.

My Currency Converter & Rates App

This one's easy. Set your countries, switch them around, and type in the amounts you want to convert. The app keeps the rates current everyday. Get it here.

Your Airline's App or FlightAware

Most airlines have their own app where you can track your flight status or buy add ons (like checked-in luggage or order *extremely delicious and absolutely desirable* airplane food...not). I'd get that app first, but if you prefer another platform, FlightAware also lets you know if your flight is delayed or canceled in real time. Plus, you can access it and track flights from your desktop and even click on the "MiseryMap." Yes, it's exactly what you think it is. See it here.

TripAdvisor App

I book a lot of tours and check out places to eat on TripAdvisor. Type in the city of your choice and pick the category you want to view: hotels, things to do, restaurants, vacation rentals, flights, shopping and more. What I love is that you can buy your excursions or make restaurant reservations right from the app. Get it here.

AirBnB Experiences

This is a lesser-known feature on AirBnB that we should be taking more advantage of. It features unique experiences facilitated and created by locals. While it may still have some of the things you can probably find on TripAdvisor, it also has interesting and uncommon adventures. Think "Moroccan Cooking Class," "Barhopping with Locals," "Star in Your Own Paris Travel Video," "Wolf Encounter" or even "Drink Coffee & Hang Out with 30+ Cats." Apparently, that's a thing they're charging for now. Download it here.

Uber

It's a bit of a no-brainer and you probably already have this on your phone anyway. Good in big cities, but shite in the countryside for obvious reasons. I recommend that you research what the taxi and transport situation is at your destination first, and use their systems if they have good infrastructure, timing, and safety. Sometimes, countries have their own version of ride sharing apps. Uber is good as a plan B, which is why I advise to get it here, but always make sure you arrange for transport or know what you're gonna do to get around.

Moovit

Speaking of transportation, Moovit was my savior. It tells you your transportation options, when trains are leaving and arriving, or how long it will take you if you walk from point A to point B in real-time. Get the Google Maps app in conjunction with this, as the route directions on Moovit aren't the best, but you want this app for the public transportation schedules! An essential app, get this here now!

Visit a City

This app gives you itineraries on what to visit based on how many days you'll be in a given location. It gives you tons of ideas, even those you didn't know existed and you can follow it sight-for-sight or veer off at your leisure. I love how many cities they have guides for. Check it out here.

Source: scholastic.com

Mobile Passport

This is your immigration form coming back into the U.S. Download the app here and enter your passport info ahead of time. But when you're back in your port of entry, connect to the airport's wifi (made specifically for Mobile Pass), and fill out the questionnaire. You'll be sent to a comparatively empty line and breeze right through customs. Finally, an inkling of efficiency!

NordVPN

It's up to you whether you need a VPN or not, but if you plan on using free, unsecured WiFi, it could be a smart move. A VPN (virtual private network) protects and encrypts your data, traffic, and identity when you're scrolling through your Instagram feed or sending an email via public WiFi. There are lots of VPN providers, and you can probably find one that will give you a free trial, but check out NordVPN here as it's one of the best all-around VPNs for $2.99/month.

Pocket WiFi

For folks who don't have international data plans, you can try out a "pocket wifi." It's basically a hotspot for your phone that you rent for a fixed price depending on the length of your stay to get unlimited 3 or 4G service. You can see how much it would cost you to rent a pocket wifi vs. talking to your current provider about upgrading to international for the duration of your stay abroad. Check out this company.

Do you use any of these apps for travel or have your own favorites not mentioned? Comment them below!

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