It’s often when we leave home that we need the help of apps most. But unfortunately, that can end up eating tons of our data, adding to the already exorbitant cost of travel. The good news is that your app store is filled with handy services that don’t require too much data — if at all. The best part? They’ll keep you safe and entertained without doing too much damage on your phone bill. Download these five must-have travel apps before you arrive at your destination.
This app is your travel chaperone in every sense of the word. It provides offline maps so you can navigate your new city with ease, weather functions so you can prepare for downpours, and reviews on local establishments. From the app, you can also download individual city guides for a variety of major cities like San Jose, Philadelphia and Amsterdam.
The last thing you want to do on a trip is carry around a binder of all your reservation documents or look through your overflowing inbox for confirmation numbers as the front desk attendant taps their fingers. TripIt compiles all of your bookings in one place — including hotels, rental cars and flights — and automatically builds a chronological itinerary for you. You can then send said itinerary to family and friends so they can keep track of your whereabouts and flight information. You’ll need a WiFi connection in order for the app to pull all of your travel information in the first place, but you can do that at home. Once you land, the service works without data.
Traveling to remote or less-developed countries no longer means staying out of touch since this handy app operates like a modern-day walkie-talkie. Send photos and messages to folks at home and coordinate meet-up times with your travel buddies.
“Zello uses a fraction of bandwidth of phone calls and will often work in low bandwidth areas when phone calls won’t get through,” said Zello founder Alex Gavrilov. “But it almost always works in areas with incredibly weak or almost non-detectable Internet.” What’s more is that Zello has historically been instrumental in allowing survivors of natural disasters, like hurricane Irma, to communicate with one another, according to Gavrilov.
Haggling at a flea market is a lot more effective when you can communicate in their mother tongue, and finding directions is a lot easier when you can ask a local. Google Translate is beyond helpful abroad since you don’t need to use your mobile web browser to look up translations. Simply choose from their 59 data-free language packs, download them to your phone, and type in the term or phrase you need translated. If you need to translate languages that don’t use the English alphabet — say, Russian or Korean — simply point your in-app camera at the phrase and it’ll do all the work for you. You can also choose to draw the characters yourself if you don’t have the correct keyboard.
Given the sometimes confusing process of accessing medical care abroad, we have to be extra vigilant about our health when traveling. In Case of Emergency compiles all of your information — including insurance plan, medications, medical history, conditions, allergies and more — into one place so you can show it to your travel buddy or healthcare provider in the event of an emergency. It includes a widget that allows healthcare personnel to bypass your lockscreen passcode and access the app themselves. Note that this app is Android-compatible only. For an iPhone-friendly version, access the Medical ID function on your home screen and plug in all your medical information. No matter what operating system you’re on, though, both features are accessible without data.