With more than two million apps available at last count from Apple’s App store, we could write a book highlighting the many apps that are useful for tooling around town and traveling farther afield. In the interest of expediency, we’ll assume you already have such indispensable mobile tools as AAA Mobile, Accuweather, Google Translate, Lyft, Uber, Waze, XE Currency and Yelp. Here are some others that the avid traveler might find useful—or at least fun—to have. Unless otherwise noted, all apps are available for Android and iOS devices and are free, although some may have in-app upgrade purchases.
Citymapper. Lost in the big city? Download the Citymapper app, and you’ll have all you need to navigate your way around town, whether you’re going by public transportation, Uber or even bicycle. Winner of a slew of awards, including being nominated for the Google Play Awards App of the Year, Citymapper can put you at ease when you’re touring any of the 40 cities worldwide in its growing coverage list. With transit maps, real-time line status and disruption alerts, and travel times calculated, the app makes it painless to navigate unfamiliar subway, bus, rail and ferry routes. With options for cycling, walking and Uber,
you can also figure out the optimal mode of transportation.
DuoLingo. You could ante up a couple hundred dollars for Rosetta Stone or even attend a real-live language course, but with DuoLingo you can practice 24 foreign languages at your own pace and preferred time—all for free. Choose from standards such as French, Spanish and German and less commonly studied Welsh, Hungarian and Swahili. And there are more languages on the way, including Hindi, Indonesian and Klingon—just in case you’re planning an outer-space excursion. DuoLingo is language learning gamified. Lessons are short, painless and addictive, so you’ll actually log in daily to bone up on Italian before jetting off to Rome. Eccellente!
LiveTrekker. Paper journals are so last century. With LiveTrekker, you can create a multimedia diary of your travels that ties your photos, videos and comments to interactive maps of your wanderings. Keep it private, or share it with family and friends by email or social networks. You can even live broadcast to those poor souls stuck at home while you’re exploring the world.
Rebtel. Remember the days when we still had long-distance phone charges in the U.S.? Thank goodness that’s long past. But calling internationally can still be quite pricey. Rebtel aims to change that. Country-to-country calls to landlines and cell phones are not free with the app, but they are about as low-priced as you can get, since Rebtel’s system searches for the best connections and sets up the call via local landline, mobile data or Wi-Fi at the lowest available rate. If you frequently make international calls, consider a subscription plan. If you are an infrequent caller, choose to pay as you go. Through 2017, app-to-app calls from one Rebtel user (called Rebels) to another in more than 50 countries are free; after that time, this so-called Rebel Calling costs $1 per month.
PlanChat (iOS only). If you’re planning a group getaway, PlanChat could take away a lot of the communications hassles. Forget the endless chains of emails trying to iron out plans; this app has a group messaging platform—in a private chat room—designed specifically for trip planning, although you could just use it to plan the next happy-hour get-together. PlanChat has in-app quick polls so that everyone can vote on suggested plans. Users can search and add hotels, restaurants, sightseeing destinations and activities to build an itinerary socially. And when it comes time to divvy up the costs, PlanChat has you covered: you can keep a running tally of shared expenses and pay each other with one payment via Venmo.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of AAA World.