When I tell people I'm flirting with 30, they tell me I look like I'm in college and I have the energy of a pre-adolescent. Well, that's good because did you know there are 195 countries in this world? My goal is to travel to as many countries as my age. My current count? 14. Yikes. Better get jetsettin'! Read More

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10 Free Apps I Can’t Travel Without

It’s 2016. I hope if you’ve got the travel bug you’ve also got a smartphone. When I was in high school, I had a Nokia 6600 (you know the phone with that addicting pixelated snake game?) and a T-Mobile Sidekick (which had the coolest swivel screen!). When I entered college, I got my first iPhone and my mind was blown. I remember asking, “Wow, how did our parents live without smartphones before? Without the internet?! People read paper maps and made their own routes?!”

With the all amazing technology bestowed upon us, traveling and planning has gotten a lot more convenient, yet convoluted, with the hundreds of options to choose from. As I continue to extend my time away from home, and enter new foreign countries, these are the 10 tried and true FREE apps I’ve realized I can’t live without.

      1. 10 Free Apps Every Traveler NeedsDuoLingo – I love this language learning app. I’m currently 3% fluent in Spanish (according to the app), and I’m hoping to practice daily so I can have conversations when I arrive in Spain beyond ‘Hola!’. Through it’s user friendly interface, fun and interactive memorization techniques, you can learn various languages including French, German, English, Russian, Italian, etc. They are constantly adding new language packs (today they launched Hebrew, Hungarian, Vietnamese, and Greek!) so I highly recommend you sign up! If you want to compete, add me! I challenge you! duolingo.com/Emily739671 
      2.  GlobeConvert – This app is great as it converts all types of measurements (energy, length, power, pressure, speed, time, volume, weight). I frequently utilize the Currency and Temperature conversions. You can favorite the types of conversions you’re utilizing for quick access. For example, I currently have GBP to $ set so the next time I need to figure out how much my cup of coffee is really costing me, I can easily plug in the amount and voila! Converted! My 3 GBP coffee is actually $3.98. Ouch.
      3. AirBnb – Between housesitting and Airbnb, Chris and I haven’t checked into a single hotel since we started traveling in June. I enjoy seeing how locals live, and the interiors people have curated with their own individualistic styles. I’ve always been interested in interior design, so for me, Airbnb is paying for an experience in addition to a place to sleep (often saving money compared to the price of hotel). We’ve had positive experiences so far, having access to kitchens and laundry, catching glimpses of what it’s like to live in a certain neighborhood, and making new friends along the way. (Click this link to get $35 off first booking!)

Travel Guide: Budget Things to Do in London

Live in a neighborhood to explore life as a local

4. Mint – Mint is my favorite budget and spending tracker app. You can sync up all of your financial accounts including assets, so you can have an understanding of your net worth at any given time. It’s a great place to also track your spending and it creates nice graphs so you know where your money is going to each month. You can also get notifications of any fees or alerts that you’ve been hit with, giving you peace of mind while you’re traveling. It also notifies you when an account balance is running low (hopefully you don’t get this notification often!).

5. Skyscanner – This is a great app if you’re planning on flying often. You can literally type in what cities you are traveling to and from and it will scrape multiple airlines’ flights and tell you the total after all taxes and fees. In a calendar view, you can see what days are the cheapest to fly and book your tickets right then and there. I have often cross-referenced this with Google Flights and the results are the same. Another cool option is if you don’t have a set destination in mind, you can just see all of the cheapest flights from your airport. Spontaneous trip, anyone?!

Travel Guide: Budget Things to Do in London

While Double Decker buses are cool and a must experience once — Uber and Lyft are great alternatives for transportation!

6. Uber & Lyft – Operating in multiple countries, I have both on my phone as both always send me emails with promotions. I once got all around SF for free with Uber as I had a $10 off 10 rides deal. For the entire weekend we cruised around in various vehicles, free of charge, as our total never rose above $10… it’s way cheaper than calling a taxi! If you are traveling in a group or as a couple, it often times makes sense to jump in a car and pay for one fare than multiple fares individually. Shoutout to Lyft for giving me the same promotion in Vegas. Thanks for saving my toes from blisters and my face from planting on the sidewalk. (To get your first ride free, use Uber promocode: emilyl3747ue & Lyft promocode: Emily256800)

7. Spotify – Spotify is an awesome streaming music service where you can download unlimited songs and albums while you have their subscription service activated. I enjoy downloading albums and setting them to ‘Available in Offline Mode’ so I can access music anywhere on my desktop or phone, with or without internet. You can also see what your friends are listening to, create and listen to playlists, and discover new music through the radio, playlists, or suggested artists section. There is a $15/month for 6 users family plan. I recommend finding 5 friends and going in on this together as it turns out to be $30 each for a full year of music!

Travel Guide: Budget Things to Do in London

Payphones – while stylish – are dead! Better to rely on What’s App!

8. WhatsApp  Everyone and their mother has WhatsApp, which is awesome because not everyone has an iPhone. What’s App is a great messaging tool to make calls, text messages, send photos and videos, to anyone else with a WhatsApp account. Perfect for not accruing any international fees! I’ve so far chatted with users in the US, Canada, UK, France, China and Taiwan.

9. Google News – Google’s News app is great as it pulls from publications all over the web. You can customize your feed by selecting which topics, magazines, newspapers, websites, etc. you want to follow. I use this each morning to catch up on the world around me in one easy-to-use app. You can also save and share your favorite articles.

10. OverDrive – If you have a Kindle, you must get OverDrive. In order to use OverDrive, you need to check first to see if your local library is connected to them and sign up for a library card. Once you’re logged in with your library account information, you can download all ebooks and audiobooks through Amazon’s Kindle store.You should never pay for a Kindle book again! They have a great selection from nonfiction to fiction and everything and anything in between, including all best sellers and new releases. The best part? If your book is due, it automatically returns the book, so you’ll never accrue any late fees from the library!

10 Free Apps You Must Download

I actually love commutes so long as I’m not the one driving – perfect opportunity to dig into the latest novel!


If you found this guide helpful, be sure to check out How to Prepare for Long-Term International Travel

What are your favorite smartphone apps that are tried and true on your travel or daily adventures?

10 Free Apps I can't Travel Without

Comments (6)

  • Jessika . October 1, 2016 . Reply

    Great suggestions! I’ve heard of duo lingo and kept forgetting to download it until reading this!

    My favourite is Trip Advisor. It’s like having a guidebook for the entire world in your phone. You can find top attractions, hotels, restaurants and things to do in any city, and find out the location, price, and see feedback from other real reviewers. I’ve used it in Mexico, Hawaii (for the BEST shave ice!), New York, London, Paris, Vancouver BC, Nova Scotia and Halifax. I couldn’t travel without it!

    • (Author) happynfull . October 5, 2016 . Reply

      Yay what language do you think you will practice, Jessika?

      Trip Advisor is great but I really wish the entire world would get on Yelp! I find their layout and UI much more user friendly than TripAdvisor. I’ve started to do away with both though when it comes to restaurant recommendations and just see which restaurants looks most busy with happy people in it. 🙂 Haha I can’t promise it always works though.

  • vinneve . October 11, 2016 . Reply

    Oh! how I wish I know about that Duolingo! Before I don’t like Whatsapp but my friends pushed me and I become to love it haha!

    • (Author) happynfull . October 12, 2016 . Reply

      Aw never too late to learn a new language! Check out Duolingo! 🙂

      Yeah, What’s App is so useful everywhere but the states it seems, oddly enough!

  • stephanie . October 31, 2016 . Reply

    I love duolingo but i never take the time to use it when im travelling haha oops!

    • (Author) happynfull . October 31, 2016 . Reply

      Haha it is difficult without reliable wi-fi/data! I usually do it on the metro stations with the earbuds in. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!!

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