Eight essential apps to download before travelling abroad

January 06, 2016
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Forget everything you’ve been told about abandoning your gadgets while travelling - it’s officially the age of the tech-savvy explorer. With just a smartphone and a few wits, there’s a good chance you’ll avoid a tortuous Thai massage or being left high and dry on the big, bad streets of New York. These apps are guaranteed to make your next trip a little less hectic, stressful and expensive.


Travellers would be hard-pressed to find a better resource than TripAdvisor for honest, crowdsourced recommendations for just about anything to do in any part of the world. The database houses reviews of establishments across the globe and users are able to refine their searches by price, type and rating, and even add their own thoughts and images. However, the site does have a reputation for being notoriously critical, so don’t be too bummed if your faves have angry asterisks next to them. 


This app is the equivalent of a personal assistant in your pocket, but doesn’t leave a crater in your wallet. TripIt collates all the important information from your trip, like confirmation emails, and synthesises it into one beautiful and sharable itinerary. The app automatically syncs the relevant events to your smartphone’s calendar and even brings up directions for easier navigation. Having access to past trips also means travellers have a centralised point of reference for future adventures and recommendations.  


There are plenty of apps on the market catering for people who want a virtual list of everything they need to take on their trip, but PackPoint stands out from the crowd. Not only does it do all that, but it also customises your packing based on your type of travel, what activities you’ll be partaking in, and the local weather.

Trail Wallet

If budgeting and math aren’t your forte, this app is guaranteed to lessen financial anxiety while you’re travelling. An easy, intuitive spend-tracker, Trail Wallet allows users to create trips, set a daily or trip budget and sub in their expenses on the go. The app breaks down how much has been spent so far and per day, and compares it against your total budget and days left on the trip.  It also supports multiple currencies for adventurers covering more than one country.


Maps.Me is an app for the hardcore traveller. An offline navigation service, it allows users to pre-program a country’s map, which can be used in full without the internet. The app has a search function and will also suggest points of interest. What makes this app excellent is the level of detail in places other maps would fail, such as unknown hiking trails, tiny islands and city maps of hard-to-access countries.


A language-learning app perfect for beginners, Duolingo is an interesting way to learn the basics of over 15 languages. Designed like a game, there are grammar and vocabulary exercises users must complete before progressing to another level. Interacting with the app is a great way to memorise handy phrases and words before your trip away.

Wi-Fi Finder

True to its name, this app will locate nearby wi-fi locations that are free or paid services, and will even rate the strength from nearby access points such as restaurants, cafes and libraries. Not only does Wi-Fi Finder allow users to discover local internet hubs, but it also helps travellers scope out what’s available in over 100 countries around the world.

Insurance App

If you’ve taken out a travel insurance policy before heading on your adventure, there’s a good chance the company will have its own app. Travel insurance apps such as Tripwise and SureSave include expert information on things such as passport, visa and vaccination requirements, emergency numbers, communication tips, local insights and how to avoid scams at your fingertips.

Meghna Bali

Meghna Bali is a final year Bachelor of Communication student at Western Sydney University. She's also highly enthusiastic about chai, poetry and ruining movies for everyone.

Image: sean_hickin, Flickr Creative Commons license