Technology has really changed the way people travel. Traveling these days no longer means going off the grid. In fact, for many tech-savvy travelers, staying connected while traveling abroad is essential. How else can we navigate around unfamiliar streets, find out the best places to eat, and keep our Instagram and Facebook social media accounts updated, right?
If you’re a frequent traveler, here are a few useful applications and online resources that you might want to load on your smartphone or tablet with before traveling abroad.
1. Google Maps
Google Maps (which comes pre-installed on most Android devices) is one of the most useful apps for exploring new places. We frequently use the voice-guided, turn-by-turn GPS navigation of this mobile app to help navigate around like a pro and avoid getting lost when driving to unfamiliar destinations. [Maps]
WAZE, the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app, can help you share real-time traffic & road info to save time, gas money, and improve daily commuting. Very helpful for in-city driving in streets that you’re not so familiar with. [Waze Social GPS Maps & Traffic]
3. Lonely Planet Inc.
Since bringing multiple guidebooks can be bulky, you might want to just download Lonely Planet eBooks, destination and road trip guides to match your e-reader or book app. The eBooks contain the same great travel content as the print books, to help guide you on your explorations abroad.
No hotel yet for your trip and need a place to crash? Airbnb keeps the world’s most interesting places to stay right at your fingertips. With over 450,000 listings in more than 34,000 cities, Airbnb lets you decide where you want to stay. Through this app, you can also open up your extra space back home to fellow travelers to earn money. [Airbnb]
Not quite sure of the restaurant or hotel you want to stay in? It’s always helpful to check out other customer’s experiences and reviews on their stay. TripAdvisor works even while offline (download the city data prior to your trip) by offering users candid reviews and opinions by fellow travelers. The app also contains maps, self-guided tour itineraries and the ability to book hotels, restaurants and flights. [TripAdvisor]
6. Google Translate
It always helps to know a few phrases in the language of the country you’re visiting. Google Translate currently has support and translation for more than 70 languages and counting. Just type or record a sentence or phrase, select the local language you want it translated to, and you get the instant translation. You can even translate the text of signs in other languages! Just point the camera to the sign, take a picture, highlight the text, and it will give you the English equivalent. [Google Translate]
7. Currency Converter
If you’re traveling on a limited budget in a foreign country, it always helps to keep track of your expenses with a simple currency converter. This app tracks currencies from around the world and easily converts between international currencies, even while offline. Pretty useful for making sure you don’t overspend on shopping sprees or while dining out. [Easy Currency Converter]
Finding where to get the best eats is probably at the top of foodie traveler’s list. Foodspotting, the leading app for finding and rating dishes (not just restaurants) is a visual guide that will lead you to good food and where to find it. [Foodspotting]
A personal favorite of mine, Instagram is a widely popular photo and video sharing app and social networking app is the perfect tool for sharing travel snapshots in real time. The built-in filters help you edit photos instantly (no need for Photoshop!) and with one click, you can share the photos across social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Filickr, Tumblr and Foursquare. [Instagram]
10. WhatsApp Messenger
Instead of replying to friends back home by text message and calls, which can rack up roaming charges, travelers can save a lot by using messaging services instead. WhatsApp is a messaging app available for Android and other smartphones that uses your phone’s Internet connection to send and receive messages, calls, photos, videos, and Voice Messages. [WhatsApp Messenger]
How to Stay Connected Abroad
Of course, most of these apps won’t work properly if you’re not online. Since free WiFi is not guaranteed in all the destinations you visit, having all-day Internet access abroad will really help keep these handy travel tools at your disposal. Thankfully, global data plans like Sun Postpaid International can make staying connected easier and more hassle-free.
Sun recently relaunched their All-Day Data Roaming, with an affordable roaming rate of just Php 430/day. No need for text registration – all you have to do is manually select Sun International’s roaming partner once abroad, and then you will be automatically charged. No bill shock guaranteed!
The promo currently covers 10 countries in Asia and the Middle East, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. I look forward to trying out this service on future trips. For more information and details on Sun All-Day Data Roaming, visit Sun Cellular.
Disclosure: Travel Up is a Digital Media Ambassador for Sun Cellular.