The 4 Apps You Need When Traveling Abroad

Well everyone, I've survived finals (ended up with my highest GPA in college yet, I might add). But it didn't take me long to head off to my next adventure: Europe! While this trip was part study abroad for a class I'm in and part for fun, it was an absolute blast. I started out in Paris, then headed to London, then finally Scotland!

Although Paris was the only spot of these three I'd been to before, it remained my favorite. It felt like an absolute dream every second of the day. I spent the days wandering around the city with two of my good friends, and we spent the nights drinking (too much) wine in front of the Eiffel Tower (because do as the Romans- err, Parisians- do, right!?). London was much more fast-paced and reminded me a lot of New York (minus the whole driving on the other side of the road thing). It was fun to explore but I don't think I could see myself living here, but who knows. Scotland was the opposite of these two. We were at a leadership institute on the Isle of Skye, where there were definitely more sheep than people. It was absolutely beautiful and a nice place to relax after the hustle and bustle of London!

I could go on all day about my amazing trip, but this post isn't about my narrative- it's about the apps I used abroad. I didn't realize before going across the pond how important some of these apps would be. I would've been lost (literally!!!!) without them. But before getting into the apps, the first thing I want to touch on is what to do to actually prepare to use your phone abroad. This was a little bit of an issue right when I got there, but my amazing mother figured it out for me and it ended up working out perfectly!

I use AT&T and getting the AT&T International Day Pass was literally a life-saver (and no, I'm not sponsored, I just loved it that much!). By paying $10 a day (that's like... two Starbucks coffees people) I got unlimited calls, texts, and data. If you're going anywhere international- I highly suggest checking this out before you go!

On to the apps!

Clear Currency

One tricky thing when traveling abroad is the difference in how things are done (this is actually one of my favorite things about traveling- I love culture shock!). One of these things is how the bills at restaurants are handled. In Paris, usually one of us would pay with a credit card (make sure you're using a travel rewards card so you're not charged outrageous fees!) and the other two would Venmo their share to the person that paid. This worked well because there were only three of us. However, things got tricky because we'd pay with euros, but our Venmo accounts use dollars. This is where the Clear Currency app came in handy. You can quickly type in how much you paid in a certain denomination and it will immediately tell you the exchange rate to multiple denominations. I can honestly say I used this app a ton while I was abroad, especially in the UK, where the difference between the pound and the dollar is a bit more.

Google Translate

Obviously, I only used this app in Paris, but it came in handy every once in a while. Many people in Paris speak English, especially because it is such a popular travel spot, however, sometimes we would find ourselves at a restaurant with an all-French menu or looking at a sign that was only in French. This is when we would pull out the Google Translate app. The amazing thing about this app is that you take a picture of whatever you're trying to translate and highlight the words you want translated. The app then translates those selected words right in front of your eyes. It's almost like magic! I would definitely suggest this app if you're going somewhere less popular, somewhere with a completely foreign alphabet (like Japan or Russia) or if you're planning on going off the beaten path! It will save you from looking like a complete fool in front of the locals.

Google Maps

Remember when I said that I would literally be lost without some of these apps? Yeah, this is what I was talking about. While Google Maps might already be a staple on a lot of your phones, it was an absolute necessity in Europe. The most helpful thing this app did was map out transit routes for you. If you've ever traveled in a big city, you know that transit is imperative (unless you want to spend $96895 on Ubers and 43939 wasted hours in traffic). However, if you're not a local, transit isn't always the simplest to use. By using Google Maps, it will tell you exactly which metro stop to get off at, which exit to take out of that metro (I didn't even know this was a thing!!) and exactly where to go after that. Even if you're not using data or wifi (although, you definitely should buy data regardless) if you already have your route queued up when you're on wifi, it will still direct you if you have no internet! Amazing!


Big cities are... well... big. Which means lots of restaurants. And in cities known for their food (oui-oui, I'm talkin' bout you Paris), you want to experience the best. However, you're not going to find the best just anywhere. That's where Yelp comes in. If you haven't used Yelp before... I'm questioning your existence. If you have, you know how easy it is to find what you're looking for. And in foreign cities, this was an absolute must! You can even search for local attractions like museums. The perfect addition to any vacation.

Obviously there are other app essentials (Instagram, obvi) but those are too obvious. Well, I'm off to scroll through my pics from Europe on my phone for the thousandth time. Can I go back now please!?

What apps can't you live without when you travel? Comment below and tell me!

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