Safe and Easy Traveling with 10 Helpful Apps

You probably take your smartphone on vacation, so let it earn its keep. These apps help conquer all sorts of travel difficulties, including figuring out what to pack, translating menus and finding a pharmacy—fast.

Couple in the back seat of a car looking at a cell phone

by NEA Member Benefits

It seems like no one goes anywhere without a smartphone these days, especially when traveling. This has created a huge market for travel apps, so take advantage of the oodles of available apps designed to make your trips better.

The following 10 apps can do everything from help you avoid road construction or track down the best pomme frites in Paris to create and send your own customized postcard—right from that mini-computer that never leaves your side.

1. Problem: You’re traveling someplace new and you’re afraid you’ll forget to pack something important.

Solution: The PackPoint app creates a comprehensive packing list for you based on your type of travel, vacation activities, weather and more. You can save and customize lists too. Free, for iOS and Android

2. Problem: You want to be sure you’re nabbing the lowest fare on your next flight.

Solution: The Skyscanner app scans the offerings on hundreds of airlines in seconds and lets you set a price-drop alert as well. Good news: Skyscanner now has similar apps for hotels and car rentals. Free, for iOS and Android

3. Problem: You’re always getting stuck in traffic on the way to the airport or on road trips.

Solution: The Waze app gives you real-time on-the-road info from other drivers about construction tie-ups, accidents and more, so you can reroute, adjust drive time and even find the cheapest nearby gas station. Free, for iOS and Android

4. Problem: You’re in unfamiliar territory and in search of a pharmacy, restaurant, ATM or [insert your need here].

Solution: The AroundMe app figures out where you are, then gives you information on the nearest options for whatever it is you seek, complete with directions. It also provides Wikipedia and contact info on nearby attractions. Free, for iOS and Android

5. Problem: You want more than just a great vacation-worthy restaurant destination. You want to order the dish that locals and fellow travelers rave about.

Solution: The Foodspotting app compiles users’ dish-specific recommendations in eateries around the globe. You also can browse themed guides created by locals and notable foodies. Free, for iOS and Android

6. Problem: You’re overseas and really want to call home, but you don’t want to pay high-priced roaming fees.

Solution: The Viber app lets you call, text or even video-chat with other Viber users for free, as well as get in touch with non-Viber numbers for low rates. Free, for iOS and Android

7. Problem: You’d rather spend your time enjoying your overseas destination instead of constantly calculating the country’s exchange rate.

Solution: The XE Currency app live-updates all world currencies and even provides charts so you can see how they’ve performed in the past. It stores the last updated rate so you can use it offline too. Free, for iOS and Android

8. Problem: You’re in a foreign country, and menus and road signs are in a language you can’t read.

Solution: The WordLens app turns your smartphone’s camera into a translator. Just point your camera at the text, and it appears on your screen instantly translated. Currently available in six language pairs. Free, for iOS and Android

9. Problem: You’re in an unfamiliar place and unsure of the safety of your surroundings—and you don’t want to feel alone.

Solution: The BSafe app has an SOS button that sets off an alarm, starts recording video and voice and broadcasts your location to your contacts. Or you could simply invite a contact to virtually accompany you by live-tracking your route via GPS. Free, for iOS and Android

10. Problem: You want something more special than a quick text home, yet you don’t want to take a break from your vacation fun to shop for postcards and stamps.

Solution: The Touchnote app lets you create a postcard out of your own vacation photo, then personalize and send it with a few taps of the screen. Free app, $1.33 and up per card sent, for iOS and Android

Plan your next getaway today