Apps to Make your Life Easier While Abroad
From directions and currency conversions to translation services and personal safety, the following apps can help you make more informed and safe decisions before you leave and while abroad. Many of them are also available as regular websites if you don't have the inclination or the space available on your phone to download them.
Fly, Drive, Ride, or Walk
Rome2Rio is a multi-method transportation search platform that helps you plan both local and long-distance travel abroad. Using a database of flights, bus routes, and ferry schedules, it presents you with the most efficient and inexpensive way to get from point A to point B.
Skyscanner helps you find and book international flights quickly and easily. Its search engine often provides less expensive options than comparable services.
With Google Maps, you can quickly find the nearest bank, hotel, restaurant, and more. You can use the street view setting to scope out the area ahead of time to know which landmarks to look for or what you're accommodation really looks like from the outside. It provides you with the fastest route options for local and regional transportation by leveraging timetables from public transportation services. When you have a connection over Wi-Fi or the data network, you can download and save maps to view offline (and save on international data roaming charges).
CityMaps2Go offers features similar to Google Maps but goes a step further by providing articles and suggestions for your destinations in case you're interested in expanding your itinerary.
Speak the Language
Using gamification, Duolingo can help you learn a language before your trip. Beat the clock, earn points, and track your progress across bite-sized lessons.
Google Translate may be one of the most convenient and helpful translation services. You can type, talk, and even take a picture of a foreign language with the app, and it will translate it instantly. It's available in the Google Play and Apple App Store.
Manage Your Money
Oanda Currency Converter
Oanda Currency Converter helps you accurately plan your budget abroad, updating 190 currencies daily and making frequently-used currencies easy to access. It's available in the Google Play and Apple App Store.
WhatsApp is a cross-platform app in which you can make and send free international calls and text messages over Wi-Fi or a data network. It links to your existing contacts, and you can also send photos, videos, and audio messages.
Protect Your Privacy
Cisco AnyConnect helps protect your information while using your phone or tablet. Through the app, you connect to Harvard's Virtual Private Network (VPN) to create a secure connection. Using VPN is one of several best practices to keep you data safe abroad. The app is available in the Google Play and Apple App Store.
International SOS Assistance App
With the International SOS Assistance App, help is just a tap away. Browse the country guides to research your destination's culture and norms; sign up to receive medical and security push alerts for your area; start a chat or phone call with an International SOS operator to receive medical or security advice and assistance; and tap to check-in and update your location for 48 hours. The app is available in the Apple, Android, and Microsoft app stores. Be sure to review eligibility for Harvard's International SOS membership. When you first start the App, you’ll need to sign up with either your Harvard email address or the Harvard University membership number.
TravWell and Can I Eat This?
Designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the TravWell and Can I Eat This? apps help you stay safe and healthy. In TravWell, you can build a trip to get country-specific vaccination recommendations, create a checklist to help you prepare, and receive recommended packing list. The TravWell app can also store your travel documents, keep a record of your medications, and remind you when to take your medications. And for those wondering whether tap water and late-night street food is safe to consume, the CDC's Can I Eat This? app has the answers you desperately need. Both apps can be used offline after initial setup.
Designed by the U.S. State Department, Smart Traveler is a helpful tool for U.S. citizens traveling to an unstable region. Similar to the CIA's World Factbook, the app includes information about every country in the world, including the most recent travel warnings and alerts. Through the app, you can also enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which registers your trip with the nearest embassy or consulate. Smart Traveler is available in the Google Play and Apple App Store.
Related Articles and Resources
- Mobile phone options abroad
- Calling and texting apps for international travel
- Common scams to avoid while traveling
- Money and banking options abroad
- New York Times: How to use Twitter and Facebook for Emergency Travel Information
- U.S. State Department traveler’s checklist
Harvard Global Support Services does not endorse any of the external organizations or services; they are provided only to serve as informational aides.