When traveling in a foreign country, I like to plan as much as I can in terms of navigating and public transportation because I have a terrible sense of direction. I would not have survived back in the day when only guidebooks with paper maps were available. What DOES work for me is all the great apps available on the market these days. Most of them are free, require no internet data connection, and are easy to use!Here are the top 3 best apps I used on my most recent vacation. I believe they are all available on both iphone and android.
Stay.com was one of the most used apps on my recent Euro trip. You basically download the city you want so you can use it without any data connection, add your points of interest, and check out the map! It uses your phone’s GPS to locate where you are and from there you can find your way to your destination. Iphone users may not have offline GPS capability as that is what we experienced in Europe. I have an android phone so I was able to use the GPS just fine without data connection. Once on the map, just click the upper left navigation button to pinpoint where you currently are (yellow exclamation point shows when you are not in that city). You can check the ‘Featured’ box for stay.com’s picks of restaurants, sightseeing points, etc.
I chose not to purchase a prepaid sim card as I usually do when traveling abroad since it was just the two of us and I figured there would be wifi in the hotels and at various cafes anyway. Shortly after we came back, T-mobile rolled out their new free unlimited text and data for people traveling overseas. I’m definitely taking advantage of that next time I’m going abroad!
What’s also great about stay.com was the ability to add other users to your city guide so you can collaborate on points of interest. Everyone added sees the exact same points of interest when it gets updated, making it easy to create an itinerary together.
2) Trip Advisor City Guide
Similar to stay.com, you can download which city you want to view offline. I’ve always trusted tripadvisor for their extensive forums and it’s nice to be able to look up a place while on the go. You can search for nearby restaurants and check out the review ratings from tripadvisor users. A lot of restaurants in Europe had a tripadvisor rated poster outside their window so I knew I could easily look them up and see what people had to say about them.
3) Google Translate
Lastly, in any foreign country you travel to, don’t always assume you can get by with English. While it’s true you can get by with English and body language in most major cities, you don’t necessarily want to go to restaurants that have an English only menu. English menus and a waiter beckoning you to try their restaurant is usually a sign that they cater to tourists which means the food may not be as ‘authentic’ or tasty. Wouldn’t you much rather eat where the locals go? But what do you do when you don’t speak or read the local language?
Google Translate comes to the rescue! You can download any language to use offline, and I found it useful for translating menu items I had no clue about and did not feel the waitstaff would have the patience to explain what every item on the menu is. Google translate won’t be able to translate everything so I usually look up the must-eats of wherever I’m going beforehand, which helps when choosing what to order.
If you’re tight on time, download these 3 apps on your phone and you’ll be able to spend more time having fun on vacation rather than trying to find your way around town. Let me know your favorite travel related apps. Happy Eating and Travel Safe!
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Photos by the boyfriend Christopher Huang