Technology has a revolutionary force in travel throughout human history. But the technological acceleration we have seen in the past 20 or 30 years has brought the world closer together like never before.
Nowadays, global travel is not only within reach of the masses, but it has become a part of everyday life for many people around the world. Flights are more affordable, facilities are improving, and improved working conditions mean more people have the time to travel too.
Indeed, for many people travel is now a lifestyle choice; whether you are taking a gap year to see the world (an increasingly popular choice), making the trip of a lifetime with your family, or even choosing to work remotely and take your office with you around the globe.
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But no matter where in the world we are, and what the purpose of our trip is, we all like to have a few creature comforts with us. And the one thing most of us wouldn’t dream of being parted from is our smartphone or tablet.
Mobile devices have fast become the essential travelling companion and can be helpful in so many ways. They can help you translate and communicate, research places to go, and of course stay in touch with your friends and family at home.
In response to demand, there are now a myriad of different apps and online services aimed at travelers; far too many for most people. The question is, which ones are the most useful ones to download. You will not want to fill up your device with apps you aren’t using, especially if you are using it as a camera as well. So what should you download.
As an experienced traveler and remote worker, I have used a fair few different apps and online services in my time. So here is my run-down of what I think are the top 4 apps you will actually use while travelling.
An Instant Messenger:
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Many people feel that social media is the essential communication tool, but for me an instant messenger is much more useful.
Unlike social media, they let you have instant conversations with your family and friends no matter where you are in the world. Many also offer free phone call services as well, meaning you can not only have a text-chat, but speak to people directly as well.
They let you send pictures, video’s, web links, and lots more besides. And they are a much more secure medium for doing this than social media sites tend to be, meaning your online privacy is better protected.
There are plenty of messenger services out there, but popular ones such as WhatsApp, Viber, and Line tend to offer the best variety of services.
A Currency Convertor:
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It’s always the real headscratcher problem for travelers; just how much do things cost. Currency markets are complex and changing all the time. Since the UK voted to leave the EU for example, the value of the £ has fluctuated markedly, and this affects what your money is worth overseas.
But nowadays, it is not necessary to spend time doing the maths or have to settle for an approximate exchange rate. Instead, there are a number of excellent currency exchange apps that can give you a precise calculation every time.
The pick of the bunch for me is XE Currency Convertor. This is a free app and offers up-to-the-minute exchange rates and a great user-friendly calculator. It offers values on every currency you can think of and you can select up to ten favourites, meaning that a simple conversion is no more than a few clicks away.
Don’t think you need such an app. Try it on just one trip; trust me, you will never delete it from your device again.
A Bill-Splitting App:
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When you are travelling with friends or family, or even alone, you are likely to find yourself in a situation where you need to divide the cost of something between a group.
It is a situation we have all been in and it can often lead to arguments and unhappiness. But nowadays it doesn’t have to be that way.
Download a bill-splitting app, such as Splittr and the problem is gone. It is a free app, works offline, and offers a user-friendly interface and a great selection of currencies too. As well as dividing things up equally, like a calculator, it can also split expenses unevenly too.
A great tool and a revelation for holiday-relations between friends and family.
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Last, but by no means least, I recommend downloading a VPN.
VPNs are essential tools for a number of reasons. When on the road you are likely to be using a number of public Wi-Fi networks in hotels, cafes, and so on. These are notoriously insecure and there is a significant risk to both your online data and your device by using them.
But this is mitigated if you are using a VPN. A VPN provides you with a secure encrypted connection which renders all public Wi-Fi ae to use, even for the most sensitive of things like online banking.
A VPN also lets you access all your home media no matter where in the world you are. With a VPN, you can log onto Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and indeed any services which is geo-restricted. A VPN will fool their servers into thinking you are still in your home country and the service will work as normal.
So with a VPN, you can still enjoy all your favourite shows on your favorite streaming service, whilst also enjoying a secure internet connection. Truly a win-win situation.