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 book those last-minute flights and hotels, 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 10 handy applications that you might want to install on your smartphone or tablet with before traveling locally and abroad.
Traveloka is a Flight and Hotel Booking App that helps you search, compare and purchase flights and hotels. I’ve recently been using this for my bookings and have found that it’s so convenient, easy to use, saves time and provides a wide selection of airlines for flights and hotels. You don’t need to print anything. Just show your e-ticket at the boarding gate or hotel voucher upon check-in and you’re all set. They frequently have promos and discounts so you can get cheaper flights and hotels. [Traveloka App]
2. Google Maps & WAZE
Google Maps (which comes pre-installed on most Android devices) is one of the most useful apps for exploring new places. I 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. Even in areas without WiFi and during solo motorcycling trips, I use the GPS to make sure I’m on the right track. [Maps]
WAZE, the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app, can also help you share real-time traffic & road info to save time, gas money, and improve daily commuting. This is also helpful for in-city driving in streets that you’re not so familiar with. [Waze Social GPS Maps & Traffic]
Ever since we sold our car, we’ve been relying on Uber, a ridesharing app that provides or fast, safe and reliable rides compared to traditional taxis. With Uber, you just tap to request a ride, and it’s easy to pay with credit or cash in select cities. I use this a lot going to and from the airport in Manila for early morning or late night flights because it’s more secure. The taxis at the airport are notorious for overcharging and for having arrogant drivers, so Uber is a much better option. Uber is available in more than 500 cities worldwide. [Uber]
4. 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 is not limited to hotels, but has a range of guesthouses and private homes listed. [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]
7. 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]
8. 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]
9. 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]
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]
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Getting back to the community after visiting Pinipisakan Waterfall & Sulpan Cave in San Jorge, Samar involved riding the Blanca Aurora River current downstream. In the dangerous areas with rapids over shallow water & rocks, we had to climb over gigantic boulders on the side of the riverbed. Part 1 of 3 article is up on www.traveling-up.com.