As Business Insider’s International correspondent, I’ve spent the past six months traveling through Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Greece, Israel, and Russia, among other places.
Traveling for a living is a fun, exhilarating, and, quite frankly, exhausting experience. But the best way to make it more fun and less exhausting is to have a digital toolkit — i.e., a smartphone loaded up with every app I need to get things done as efficiently as possible.
When I get off a plane, I want to know how much money to take out of the ATM, how to hail a cab, where the best hole-in-the-wall restaurant is for dinner, and how to say, “I’d like to order 10 of those, please.”
With 12 countries checked off on the trip so far (and who knows how many to go) I decided it was time to reveal my most used apps. They aren’t all revelations — who hasn’t heard of Google Maps? — but I can guarantee there’s at least one in there you haven’t thought of yet.
Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration for your next trip abroad.
1. WhatsApp (free)
By far my most used app. So long as you are outside of China, WhatsApp is most likely the most common messaging for Americans and everyone else.
2. Facebook Messenger (free)
Like everyone else these days, I hate using Facebook, but a huge part of my social network is there. Additionally, Facebook is the app that just about every person you meet also has.
Thankfully, Messenger is an aesthetically pleasing and pared-down messaging app that lets you tap into that network without having to be bombarded with your high-school ex’s political arguments.
3. Telegram (free)
Telegram has turned into my go-to for talking to sources in countries where the government might be watching what you say (*cough* China, Russia *cough*).
4. Google Maps (free)
I’m sure I’m not the first person to recommend using Google Maps to get around literally everywhere (except China), but the feature I find the most useful while traveling is the ability to download offline maps for places I’m in — that way, I can still navigate without blowing up my data bill.
5. Waze (free)
I can’t tell you how many traffic jams the social-navigation app Waze has gotten me out of. Turning every phone using the app into an information-generating node is just plain genius. I’ve found that it often has more accurate directions than Google in other countries.
6. My Currency Converter & Rates (free)
As I move from country to country, I am constantly using different currencies. It’s hard to keep track of what’s worth what. My Currency Converter & Rates is a simple offline exchange app that, while not so up-to-date that I would recommend forex traders use it, is just fine for the average traveler.