I hate a cluttered screen of any kind. My computer has one folder on the desktop, and I ruthlessly cut apps from my phone all the time. Jeremy should rest easy that I won’t be going through his iPhone because he has all these folders and apps and games and I could never find anything even if I wanted to.
So, that should make you feel good about the app recommendations below, because if they’ve got a space on my phone, they’re actually pretty useful and not the stocks or tips app (seriously Apple, can we get rid of them now puhleeze).
Kayak – I always talk about knowing the average price of flights/hotels, so when you see a good deal you’ll immediately know. My favorite part is that it’s a really easy way for me to geek out and look at airfare for random destinations all over the world (yes, I’m a weirdo, I do this for fun).
Airbnb – A very popular travel site, but some people still haven’t heard of it. We use it 90% of the time, because we have particular requirements (wifi, pet friendly, kitchen for snacks) and it’s easy to set your filters. My favorite part is obviously the wish lists, where you can add super cool places to come back to.
Google Translate – A way to translate languages is crucial when abroad. With this one you can download offline languages to translate without wifi. My favorite part is that you can hold up your camera to a word and immediately see it in English.
Oanda Currency Converter – Another mandatory app, you gotta know how much you’re spending abroad! This app has them all, and will do offline conversions as well. My favorite part is that you can choose between different conversion rates, including the ATM rate and exchange the kiosk rate.
Booking.com – I find the best deals on hotels on Booking.com, and their app is easy to use. My favorite part is that they offer a ton of book now, pay later options, which means I can reserve a couple of different options at a good price until I decide exactly where I want to stay.
Google Maps – As long as you get directions when you’re on wifi, you can start those and have step by step directions to your destinaton. My favorite part is that you can download offline maps, so if you’re spending a long time in one place, download your city and you can access it even when you’re out and about and not so connected.
Sleep Machine – It’s not always easy to sleep in a new bed, and you’ll never know how loud your neighbors or the city is until you get there. Sleep Machine lets you customize the sounds you like and add them to a “playlist”, then play it for a set amout of time. My favorite part is my beach bonfire mix, which puts me to sleep in about 3 minutes.
Snapchat – This is my favorite social media platform by far, I feel like it’s much more laid back because it’s in real time. I like to use it to show a more in depth look into where we are without annoying my friends on Instagram. My favorite part are the cute location filters.
WhatsApp – The majority of the people I meet abroad use WhatsApp to communicate. I use iMessage usually, but if you’ve got friends who don’t have iPhones or have international numbers, this one is for you. My favorite part is that group messages seem to run smoother than on iMessage.
Free Wifi Finder – I mean, do I really need to explain this one? Vital. My favorite part is that the app will often direct you to Starbucks since they have free wifi.
GateGuru – Airports are some of the least fun places ever. Sometimes you get lucky and find one with amazing duty free shopping, but overall, it’s not somewhere I’d willingly spend my time. But GateGuru makes it as painless as possible. My favorite part is that you get real time updates on flight delays or security line wait times.
Instagram – Insta is fun, but what I use it for in a travel related capacity is to search for places. Go to the magnifying glass, click the search box, then choose places. Search for the place you’re going and you’ll see all the photos tagged in that location. My favorite thing about the place search is that I can figure out how to dress at a certain place, good photo opp spots, or what to order in restaurants.
Duolingo – I try to learn to say at least hello, goodbye, and thank you in the language of the country I’m visiting. It is definitely not always easy (I’m looking at you Bulgaria!) and sometimes I totally blank when it comes time to actually use the word, but I think the little extra effort can go a long way. My favorite part is that you can learn words you’ll never use but that are fun, like “elephant” or “pepper grinder”.
Wifi Calling – Not really an app, but if you have AT&T, turn on your wifi calling in your settings. Since you have a US number, you can call other US numbers for free using wifi. My favorite part is that I can still call my grandma (a non-text/email user) while I’m abroad.
PS The photo accompanying this post is a picture of these delicious iPhone cookies that my friends Kelsey + Matt had at their super hip Austin wedding.