Travel Tips: Phone Apps

After living in Costa Rica for two months, we have found some helpful tools and tips. I (Nathan) will begin a series of posts that highlight what we have used and learned. However, these tips can be used in other countries if you find yourself traveling abroad. Likewise, we hope that these tips will help future Lifeline Families who are adopting from Costa Rica.

Do not leave your smartphone at home, even if you decide not to get an international plan. Since Stacy and I are both here, we knew that it would not be necessary to get international data on both of our phones. We decided to put data on Stacy’s phone, which I will talk about international data plans in a later post. Everything that I list below can be used without data.

Maps.Me is my most used travel app and here is why:

  • Maps of countries and regions can be downloaded and used while offline. When traveling, you don’t want to draw attention to yourself. Looking at a map on your phone is more discreet than pulling out a paper map.
  • The route planning function gives you turn-by-turn directions.
  • Save your favorite places by “pinning” them on your map. 
  • The app is fast and reliable. We use Uber for our transportation needs. Usually, I open the Maps.Me app to follow the driver’s route. On more than one occasion, a driver has lost cellular service and so we finished the route using my app. 

Uber is like a taxi, but much better for several reasons. I will share about transportation in a future post, but for now, the Uber app is a necessity.

Google Translate is even better now that you can use the app offline. There are multiple ways to input words and phrases such as typing, speaking, and taking photos of words and phrases to be translated. Once translated, you can turn your phone sideways to see the translation on the full screen. Which allows the person you are speaking with to read the words rather than trying to sound out the words yourself.

Currency is the app I am using, as of now, to check rates. I am always looking to find a better app, but for now, it works.

WhatsApp is not as common in the States, at least in my area of the country. From Costa Rica to Italy, all my friends are using Whats App. The app is much like the iPhone’s iMessage. You can use it to text, send voice messages, pictures, etc. You can communicate with your friend’s via your cell phone number. However, you do not need data to use it.

Trip Advisor is the app to use when traveling domestic and international. Many hotels and restaurants use the app abroad to attract visitors. The app has all the info you need and wants for a restaurant or hotel.

TripIt has been a long time travel tool for me. An annual subscription is available to use the app to its fullest. However, the free portion of the app is still useful. TripIt keeps track of your flight itinerary as well as hotel confirmations. Simply forward your email confirmation to TripIt and they will automatically organize your itinerary.
What are your favorite travel apps? I am always on the look-out for new and helpful apps. 


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