Before you leave on your international trip make sure you have your smart phone sorted out. Most importantly have an International Data Plan as you will absolutely need it at some point during your travels. Even if all you do is get the cheapest, most basic plan, get something because relying on free public Wi-Fi or hotel Wi-Fi is always limiting and not as readily available as one might think. You want to be able to use your smart phone as a travel tool for maps and local information. And of course, why not use it for the fun stuff of sharing your trip as you travel and uploading that photo of the Colosseum or doing a check-in at the Louvre. Have an international calling and texting plan as well, but usually what you will be needing the most while on the road is access to the data. When I have traveled with friends and they have opted to not get a data plan they have regretted it as it meant either they were constantly frustrated they had limited use of their phones or they got stuck with tremendous phone bills upon return. It is simple to opt into International mobile plans and they can save you money just check with your mobile phone carrier before departure. Once you have done that here are some apps to take with you:
The Travel Basics – Your phone should come with a Map and Weather app. Go ahead and pre program your destination’s weather in to help with packing and put you in the mood for your travels. Along with that, find a basic destination guide, there are many so look over reviews and go for one that is simple to use and won’t take too long to upload information and eat up your data plan limit when in use. Also if you don’t already have it: WhatsApp makes it possible to get free texting using Wi-Fi to any mobile number also using WhatsApp, thus cutting back on those texting fees.
Planes and Trains – Make sure to have your airline’s app as it will not only keep your flight information handy, not to mention many airlines now offer ticketing right from their apps, but it can also offer up to the minute travel information such as gate changes and flight delays. A Must. A great general airline app is Flight Tracker which allows for universal flight search of all airlines and will show you in real time their flight status. Great to use if you are meeting up with others coming in from different destinations. And if you are going to be doing a lot of train travel having apps for the Eurostar or local trains can give you the train schedules so you can plan your journey with ease.
Chic Travel Guides – Cool Cities has chic guides to top cities like Paris and London. Easy to use and categorized by both subject and area of town, plus it features more hip recommendations. The uber trendy Wallpaper* offers many of their guides in app form.
Museum Guides – Most museums these days have free app guides you can download but did you know that many of their big exhibitions also now have apps to accompany the shows. A quick check on the museum or exhibition webpage can get you this information and its that great little extra to have with you.
There’s an App for That – Want to know the latest ferry schedules between Naples and Capri? If you will need to wear Wellies during Acqua Alta season in Venice? There really is an app for that. CapriSchedule has a list of ferry and hydrofoil schedules for the Bay of Naples which is great when you are traveling around the Amalfi Coast between Sorrento, Capri, and Naples. For the updates on tides during months in Venice when flooding can be problematic, Hi!tide Venice will give you some indication whether or not you need to wear or pack your boots which is actually more handy then you might think.
For Fun – Gogobot is a fun little app for posting photos in postcard form plus it has a travel community of reviews to tap into.