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5 Travel Apps to Keep You Connected on Your Next Adventure

Lifestyle |

Traveling with your smartphone can be expensive. The story of a friend coming home from vacation to find they have racked up nearly $1,000 in cell phone fees is far too familiar. You can mitigate those international calling fees with just a few simple steps before you leave the country.

It is not difficult to operate on airplane mode while abroad if you prepare accordingly. If you must turn on your cell phone when in another country, make sure your mail is not polling automatically and sign up for a small international plan for data, texting, or calling through your provider.


Take advantage of these apps to stay connected and avoid a massive phone bill:


Skype is the most inexpensive way to communicate with your loved ones back home. Rather than using your comparatively expensive international cell phone plan, you can talk to anyone (even non-Skype users) by adding credits in your Skype account. As long as you have access to Wi-Fi, you can call any phone. I have used this travel app to field business calls from an internet cafe in Thailand and to call friends from my hotel in Cancun. The rates are reasonable and I have rarely needed more than $10 to carry me through a vacation.

City Maps 2Go

Since Google Maps and your built-in map app rely on a data connection and GPS to function, you will need something that will allow you to navigate a city untethered from your cell phone provider while abroad. Download the map from City Maps 2Go when you have access to Wi-Fi, then take it with you even if you’re offline. This is the digital equivalent to paper maps (remember those?) and allows you to navigate your chosen city without a data connection.

It will not be able to pinpoint your location when you’re offline or give you traffic information, but the digital cartography will afford you a full map of your downloaded locale that you can zoom into and search by address, which is a vast improvement to the paper variety. You can even look up restaurants, gas stations, cultural attractions, and do many of the things that you have been accustomed to as a digital map user. A note to the Garmin generation: you will need to know how to read a map.


YouMail is your voicemail on steroids. It has a number of useful functions including custom outgoing messages, the ability to save your voicemails indefinitely, or even email your voicemails to colleagues. However, YouMail’s most useful function when traveling abroad is the fact that it will send you an email when you have a voicemail in your inbox or alert you on your smartphone app. Typically when your data plan is turned off or you are on airplane mode, you can’t retrieve your voicemail because it’s tied to your phone plan. This travel app circumvents that so you will always know when someone calls. Unfortunately, this does not apply to text messaging. You will not be able to receive your text messages until you reconnect to your service provider. The only exception is iPhone to iPhone messaging, which can function over Wi-Fi in lieu of SMS.


TripIt is especially useful for organizing all your travel documentation such as plane ticket confirmations, hotel check-ins, rental cars, and train passes. This travel app is especially helpful if you’ll be hopping from city to city on your trip. It will give you gate information, the duration of your flight, phone numbers to airlines and rental companies, connecting flight information, maps of your destination, and more. TripIt synchronizes with a number of other travel apps, and a pro account will track your points, find you alternate flights, and alert you to changes in your plans due to cancellations, delays, or gate changes. It is also very handy when planning group trips, whether the trip is with work colleagues, friends, or family. Trip It makes it easy to share your itinerary and pertinent travel information with people you know, so you can all be on the same page.


I love Postagram for sending postcards when I’m abroad. I love correspondence and getting postcards in the mail, but finding postage and trying to find a way to physically mail a postcard while I’m in another country can be slightly tedious. With this travel app, I can send a picture of myself in front of the Taj Mahal to my best friend or my grandma. The digital age makes it possible to send a postcard with a picture from your travels instead of the picture that everyone else is sending because it just happened to be the only good postcard at the gift shop.

I hope this helps you in all your travels near and far.

If you have any apps that you think we should know about, be sure to share in the comments below!

Ask Levo Mentor Dorothy McGivney, Founder and Publisher of the travel site Jauntsetter, more about her ideas for travel-friendly apps!

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I would also add a good navigational app Spyglass. It works great when offline, assuming that you pre-download the maps that you need in advance. It shows your accurate coordinates and your current position on a map, allows to mark locations and waypoints, share your locations with friends and much more.


Two other apps I find very useful for travel are Trip Splitter and Journ. Trip Splitter is quite handy when tripping together with friends or colleagues and splitting spending. Trip Splitter allows categorization/mapping of expenses and attachment of photos of receipts. This app additionally tracks who paid, how much and who owes - in most major currencies.
A more advanced functioning travel app is Journ. Journ has all of the Trip Splitter expense management/sharing features plus easily creates a photo album of your trip. In addition, Journ tracks and creates a map your trip (complete with photos), provides an enhanced camera and greatly simplifies sharing part or all of your trip’s map and photos via social media, Picasa and
Evernote. Basically, Journ creates a detailed written and photographic journal of your business trip. Both are products of DC Software Arts and are available in the iTunes store.


A great app we found for traveling abroad is called Simply Declare Travel App. We always hated scrambling for receipts and exchanges rates before we headed home, and this app keep us in the know so we don't stress filling out the info about what we brought. We have even used Simply Declare hopping from country to country. The last time we came home the customs agent was impressed we had our purchases to the penny.


I often need to sift through receipts when I'm sitting on the airplane - this would definitely help me rest easy when I am filling out my customs forms. Great tip - especially border to border if you're coming from multiple countries!


I always love learning about new (or new-to-me) apps!! These are great suggestions for fun and practical travel apps! I have skype and use it quite frequently with some of my friends who are from other countries (we aren't able to text). I am particularly excited for Postagram! I didn't know about it before!


Hey, Jen: You referenced Skype, but there's an entire OTT (over-the-top) category of voice and messaging services. For instance, Voxofon enables users to affordably stay connected internationally via any device - landlines, smartphones, feature phones or PCs/tablets. Happy to provide more info if you're interested - I handle PR for them.


Is Voxofon available over wifi when airplane mode is enabled? From the website it seems that it uses a proxy number which would entail using your cellular network even if the call was local. Is there a WiFi connection as well?


Here's a few more..

Trip Advisor City Guides-- download before you go or on wifi. Offers self-guided tour options, maps, nearby restaurants, hotels, attractions, nightlife, shopping and tours/tickets. You can also send postcards and keep a trip journal.

Whatsap: Allows you to send/received text like messages while on wifi

Text Grabber: Take a picture of text and see it translated into English. Needs wifi but I see this to be useful to read restaurant menus and many restaurants have wifi. (I just downloaded this so have not had the opportunity to test it more than a couple times but great for me, living in Switzerland and not speaking German!)


Text Grabber sounds super handy! Thanks!


Great list, Jenn! I recently downloaded the app Viber, per the recommendation of a few friends that traveled abroad this summer. Viber allows you to text and call anyone for free so long as you have a wifi connection. I'm headed to Europe in three weeks -- I think it'll be awesome to use to stay in connection with folks back home while I'm away :)


If you are calling someone who is not on Viber, what are the charges? Is it possible to call people outside of the Viber network?


awesome. I'll check Viber out!


Viber is fantastic! Just did work call to a contact in Greece this morning...crystal clear connection and in the few times I've used it, better than Skype for connection and clarity.


Wow I hadn't even thought of these data plan perils for travel and these apps are such great resources! Postagram is also a great app for staying visually connected to loved ones across the country, I use it all the time!


I'm glad that helped! I find that just a little bit of preplanning, can save you tons of money. I use Postagram even when I'm not travelling just to send fun pics to my mom :) She loves them.

Jenn Wong

Jenn Wong is the publisher and host of Way of The Wong & one of the founders of Move LifeStyle, a lifestyle destination for modern working women. She has contributed to the LA tech blog lalawag and has covered the LA cocktail community in Angeleno Magazine. You can find her online @wayofthewong.