Are you about to embark on your first overseas adventure? You may have gotten packing down to a T, but have you considered what would happen if none of the taxi drivers speak your language or if you have a data plan with no WIFI and you cannot reach your friend who ran across the street for a quick "coffee" or when hotels are crazy expensive and you want to stay somewhere cheap that feels like home? This is the perfect blog for you then! I am currently a full-time missionary traveling to 11 countries in 11 months, so I have crafted up the perfect list of six different apps that have helped me survive in each country!
Hotels can be a real pain in the booty because they are so expensive. I understand why, but do you ever go somewhere and think, "do I really need the free breakfast or the daily maid service?" It's a "no" from me. I am used to staying in hostels with my big missionary team, but since we are such a large group, we usually rent out the entire place so I don't have to worry about sharing a space with a random and trusting my stuff there. I think the good in-between is Airbnb. You can rent a room for around $30 in the states and it can be cheaper depending on where you are looking or if you have a group, rent the whole house!
I am a friend/parent tracker. Which means I have their locations. It is not creepy because it is common in my friend and family circles, but I had an incident in Ecuador where some of my team got lost in an Uber in the middle of nowhere but I had her location! Unfortunately, because of the lack of connection, it did not work. My parents made me download Life360 and they can pinpoint my exact location no matter the connection. I think this is an important thing to share and even more important when you are traveling alone! Never go off the grid and don't talk to randoms. Have you seen Taken?
3. Google Translate
This one is super important and I wish I could put a million exclamation points beside it! If I could marry google translate, I would because it is a life saver. I stayed with a host family once where they spoke little to no English and at the time I spoke about 10% Spanish. We would talk into google translate and it would repeat us, but in the other language. Sometimes it was not 100% perfect, but we always figured out what was trying to be said. This could be great for asking directions or questions! No one will be offended if you use it either, it shows you are trying your best!
This is a newer app that I just got, but everyone on my missions team has it and it's pretty rad! It shows you basically where everything is. You "download" the country you are going too so you can use it offline. It shows restaurants, bars, malls, hotels, etc. and it has a mini-yelp type of rating! If you want to live like the locals, I recommend this app.
This is a no brainer, but beware! In some countries, Uber is illegal since it slows down the taxi game. So basically don't be a loud American yelling, "OMG where is my Uber?" Uber can be crazy cheap in other countries. My 20-minute drives to Pergamino Café in Colombia were always under $5. Like what!? Download the app before leaving America and get everything in order. I have been the mission trip group favorite because I have it.
6. Marco Polo/Whats App
These two apps deserve all the love and affection in the world. I have international data and it is super slow, but these apps work regardless, even when messaging doesn't work either. Marco Polo is an app you can send mini videos to people back and forth and Whats App is a basic texting/group texting app. I recommend both since Facetime and IMessaging is never guaranteed.
I obviously could go on and on about these free apps and other ones, but I don't want to overwhelm you! I hope you try these out before your next big trip and let me know how they work for you.