You’ve got your Maps and your awesome weather apps, but what’s next? Check out these picks for great gadgets to have next time you travel.
When it comes to travel app lists it’s easy to sound off with DarkSky, HearPlanet, and airplane apps to help you keep track of your boarding passes, but the truth is that travel is just like your every day (except a little more exotic) andthe things you’ll need on the road aren’t so different from things you’d like to have at home.
Throw in a little bit of documentary gadgets, reasons to wander in a new city, plenty of opportunities to share your story and stay connected with your friends and family, and you’ve got plenty of opportunities to have the best, most well-prepared trip of your life.
So what are you waiting for? Get to downloading!
1. WhatsApp Messenger
While some of us may be addicted to Facebook Messenger, the great equalizer the world over isWhatsApp, the communication model that doesn’t care if you’re an Apple or a Blackberry or an Android disciple, it’s there to connect one and all with videos, photos, calls, texts, and more. While it does require an internet connection, it’s easy enough to add international roaming to your plan, or you can opt for a local SIM card (it’s cheaper, faster, and only requires a littlephone prep). So get to chatting!
Postcards may still be the best thing that ever happened to travel, but that doesn’t mean you have to resort to the same old postcards that people have been sending for a century at least (unless that’s your thing) because Postagram has given us a 21st century update that means we never have to figure out how to buy an international stamp ever again. Upload your own photos, import your contact list from your phone, and then send an actual card from your phone with no hassle. Yep, it’s really that easy.
Sincerely.com. Download the apphere. Price: Free to download. Postcards start at $.99.
For the Hemingway’s, the Gilbert’s, and the Grylls’s of the world, Evernote is going to be your answer to keeping all your tidbits and scrap notes together in one place, forever and ever, so you can go back for a B&B business card, or a quote from the side of the subway, or even a little ditty you were humming along the beach whenever you want. Storytellers the world over, or even travelling freelancers will (and do) swear by this management app.
Have you ever been stranded in an airport long enough to get really bored but not long enough to adventure out, only to realize that the thing you would really dig is a full on binge sesh of “Orange is the New Black?" That’s where Netflix comes in. With “House of Cards," “Outlander," “Sherlock," “Doctor Who," and a myriad of other tv and movie delights on constant stream, getting Netflix on the go saves you a bunch of useless moments wondering how you’ll spend three and a half hours at Stansted. Don’t make the same mistake I did—get the app.
Netflix.com. Download the apphere. Price: Free to download, Monthly streaming plans start at $8.99.
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The US isn’t the only place with great Groupon deals—you can also find money saving hacks for restaurants, hotels, spa services, adventure activities, flights, resort stays, and more, all over the world, which makes this app pretty reliable (and incredibly useful) for getting the most out of your trip without getting the most out of your wallet.
Pocket is a great thing for people who like to plan and people who like to fly by the seat of their pants as well—it’s just one of those great all around apps. Pulling favorites from your computer, tablet, or phone, this app saves your bookmarks, your watched videos, and as well as any pictures, articles, or other updates that you want to keep track of (including those Airbnb listings you were drooling over), all without an internet connection. And as any good traveller knows, keeping track of your itinerary or the best places to eat list from Bon Appetite is good to have whether you’re locked into the wifi or not.
Pushbullet is definitely for the travelling photographer, writer, designer, digital nomad, and all the aspiring ones as well, because nothing keeps better track of all of your updates than Pushbullet. Syncing with all your devices simultaneously, you’ll never miss a text message, get to send files directly to friends, and it makes chatting with your friends that much easier on any of your devices.
Recho is a cool experimental storytelling app that I’ve come to absolutely love for it’s opportunity to connect people to places from all over the world. Use the app to find a location, listen to a sound memory, or if you want, record your own. It’s like an audio mystery tour, except the only mystery is what great experiences you’re going to pick up along the way. I definitely suggest this app for people who love to wander!
Destined to be the next great thing after Snapchat, Periscope takes you into live video feed broadcasts very similar to the picture app, but instead it’s a million times better and definitely perfect for travellers with incredible vistas and adventure opportunities packed into their itinerary. But the cool part is it’s much more newsy than your average social media platform—with the ability to live stream from just about anywhere, straight from your device onto other platforms, and complete with live messaging and comments the whole way through, you’ll feel like the next Nat Geo superstar, and you’ll look like one too. If you don’t believe me, check out thiskiller video.
Useful the world over for people who are very much against paying for phone service (who wouldn’t be!) but still interested in staying connected, Skype is an essential. Travellers love it, businesses love it, freelance contract workers love it, and it’s because it’s easy, free, and only requires an internet connection to get up and running. So even if you can’t decide where you’re heading tomorrow or landed somewhere new for two days and aren’t planning on getting a SIM, Skype is the answer to making sure you can still get connected to the people you love in places you love.
This is another app I love to have in the airport, or at the train station, or even in the doctor’s office, because it makes waiting for something so much more fun. Tap into a lot of pop culture sound bites and then mimic your way through a video, share with your friends, and viola! You’ve completely forgotten about being bored.
Great filters don’t come around every day, and VSCO Cam filters put Instagram followers to shame (#sorrynotsorry) so any serious lover of photo journals needs to have this app for perfecting already amazing travel photos. Perfect for your tablet or your phone, check out their awesome color collections and optimization potential—and you’ll never post an underwhelming picture update ever again.
There are a lot of bloggers out there with travel photos, diaries, documentaries, and more, and my advice for getting started with the blogging game is Tumblr, and the app is super easy for navigating and uploading if you’re new, on the road, or trying to not carry your laptop with you wherever you go. Plus, it’s got a built in platform for gaining followers, and you can customize with your own weburl. After a daring adventure, you’ll be the next Anthony Bourdain.
A great way to keep up with your favorite titles without having the added baggage, Audiobooks from Audible connects to Amazon books so you can download new titles whenever you’re in range, but then you can listen whether you’re connected or not—hello transcontinental bus rides! It’s the perfect solution to keeping busy without having the need for wifi.
Are you a huge music fan? Songkick Concerts is a rad app that gathers suggestions for artists you’d like to see live by scanning your music library, then getting a good look at your location, before offering up options for the best concert line-ups in your area. While it seems pretty simple if you’re never moving around, getting a heads up on great shows while travelling is just another way to experience life like a local. Bonus: it’s absolutely free!
The app experience is all about making easier, emphasising, or escaping, our realities, and when you’re on the move, it’s all the more vital to have an arsenal of tools that are going to make your travel easier, more fun, better documented, and better connected than ever before—it only takes a little bit of pocket change and a good download speed before you set off into the great unknown!
My last piece of advice is only this—make sure you also spend time off your phone, because as great as your camera app is, it’s not going to be able to replace the real moments that are happening in front of your face, so just remember to use the tools in moderation and unplug every once in awhile. After all, you are on an adventure!