Google Maps is an amazing resource to have when you are in an unfamiliar city and need to know how to get around. The app tells you which modes of transport are available to get to places, what time they come and how long the journey will take.
It includes getting to places on foot as well so you can then compare and work out if you want to take a bus/tram /train/drive or walk.
I would definitely have been lost many many times without the app and am amazed at how accurate it is. It means I don’t have to wait for ages at a bus stop hoping it will come soon because Google Maps knows what time the next one is due.
You can use it to find nearby cafes, restaurants, banks, post offices etc. Handy for when your little one needs to use the toilet and you have no idea where to go.
Another reason I love the app is because of the little blue arrow. I am “navigationally challenged” and find it difficult to orient myself at the best of times (even in familiar cities!).
Google maps pops a little blue arrow on you so you can see which way you need to face in order to follow the route.
I know this may seem like a stupid thing to love about the app but it’s probably the most important feature for me!
The app is free to download, has a very simple to use interface and is very responsive. (NB – you need to have access to the internet in order to use the app).
Google Maps (iOS)
Google Maps (Android)
This app was recommended to us by other travellers. It’s an app which you can use to help you budget your daily spend. You just log the things you’ve spent money on each day into the app.
It comes with some pre-set categories (food, transport etc.) but you can easily add other categories to make it more personal to your needs. For example, we have a category called ‘worldschooling’ so we can see how much we spend on classes/activities for our daughter.
You can use the app to set a daily budget and it will let you know if you have exceeded or stuck within the amount you wanted. It also has a character that makes encouraging or discouraging remarks depending on how you are doing that day! For example, “Over budget, no cookie for you”.
The great thing about the app is that it has an automatic currency converter built in so if I spend 300 Czech crowns on my groceries I have it set to tell me that is the equivalent to £10. This makes it so much easier for me to get to grips with the actual cost of things.
The app is free but only really as a test. It lets you log 25 items but then you have to pay to be able to log any more items.
Still, at $4.99 (USD) we think it is worth it.
Trail Wallet (iOS)
This is a godsend when you don’t have a decent grasp of the local lingo. We accept that Google Translate is definitely not 100% foolproof (when we were learning Spanish in Valencia we found a few words had quite different meanings to what Google translate gave us). However for getting around and basics it is amazing.
We have used it pretty much daily when deliberating over a non-English menu, or trying to ask someone for directions etc.
It is easy to use – you just type in the word you’re looking for in English and select the language of the place you are in and it gives you the word(s).
1) If you turn your phone sideways when you have the word you need then it shows the word in huge letters on the entire screen.
This has been really helpful when we’ve been trying desperately to pronounce the words ourselves but aren’t making ourselves understood. You can just turn the screen sideways and show the person you’re talking to what you mean!
2) We LOVE the camera feature. You can use your camera on your device and point it at the text you want to translate. It will then focus in on the words and automatically translate the text for you. (You do need to download the language file first for this to work).
We pretty much always use this for menus and signs we don’t understand. It’s a brilliant piece of technology and whilst again it isn’t perfect (It once said there was “home dumplings and potato violins” on the menu!) it usually gives us the gist.
Here is an example of the camera translation feature. This is a pack of cleaning wipes which is from the Czech Republic. As you can see the translation may not be 100% perfect but it helps us understand enough to know what we are buying!
Google Translate (iOS)
Google Translate (Android)
This handy app allows you to convert currencies to their up to date exchange rate.
You can select as many currencies as you want to view and it displays them in a list for you. It’s very simple to use.
The other feature we like about the app is that it has other converters as well – so if you need to convert kilograms to pounds or mph to kph it can also do that.
It also has a great “tip calculator” so if you want to work out what 15% of a bill is you can type in what the total is and it will work it out for you!
It does have ads running on the bottom of the screen but we find they are not too intrusive.
Converter + (iOS)
We also use the following apps but not as regularly:
- Dropbox – a way for us to store documents and photos online.
- Uber – for when you need a taxi.
- WiFimap – an app that finds free wifi connections locally.
Are there any apps you have that you can’t travel without?
Note: In this article, all opinions are our own and we are in no way affiliated or paid by these apps!