Going on a big trip abroad? This may seem like the perfect opportunity to step away from your phone.
I get it. You don’t want to distract yourself by browsing Facebook or Reddit. You should be making the most of your time overseas!
But here’s the thing: your phone can help you make the most of your time abroad.
How? By giving you access to amazing overseas apps.
There are numerous apps intended specifically for international travel. There are even apps meant just for travel around a certain continent or country.
Let’s look at the best of the best of these apps. First, I’ll cover apps that are meant for overseas travel in general. Then I’ll dive into apps that are for specific continents.
Travel Around the World with These 19 Overseas Apps
Overseas Apps for International Travel
The following apps are great for worldwide travel. Regardless of which countries you visit, chances are, these apps will make your life infinitely easier.
Not being able to speak the local language really limits your travel opportunities. When you speak the language, you can befriend locals, ask for directions, find places off the beaten path and have a truly authentic travel experience.
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You don’t have to drop a ton of money on taxis. Download the Uber app to get from point A to point B at a lower rate.
Plus, your driver will be your average local. Test out your language skills by asking them about their job and hobbies or by asking for restaurant recommendations.
Uber is constantly expanding and reaching new countries, making it all the more convenient!
Google Maps is perfect… unless you have a poor connection or can’t connect to Wi-Fi.
MAPS.ME is the answer to every traveler’s wish for comprehensive, offline map usage. Download the section of the country or city you’ll be traveling in, and there you have it!
Want the experience of Couchsurfing but safety of a hostel?
Airbnb is a great middle ground. It offers all sorts of accommodation options, from a spare room in a local’s apartment to an entire suite in a castle.
Who doesn’t love cheap flights?
Loved by many a frugal traveler, Skyscanner shows you flights around the world. The site compares prices across hundreds of companies to give you the best deal.
Again, learning the local language is important.
But let’s be honest… We can’t learn all the words in all the languages.
Even if you try your best to pick up some key phrases in the native language of the country you’re traveling to, there will still be some times when you just have to get that translator out… There’s no shame in it!
Google Translate is one of the most comprehensive translators out there—and you can download it for offline use!
Must-have Overseas Apps For Europe
Virgin Trains – The United Kingdom
Train tickets in the UK are expensive. I mean, really expensive. So much so that you’ll hear stories about people like the teenager who flew from Sheffield to Essex through Germany instead of simply taking a two-hour train.
Use the Virgin Trains app to find cheap train tickets, book in advance and look up train schedules.
GoEuro – Throughout Europe
For train travelers going throughout mainland Europe, GoEuro is a handy app for viewing schedules, prices and routes all over the continent. This includes both domestic and international rides.
You can use this app to check out the best, cheapest and most convenient route for your travel.
Must-have Overseas Apps for Asia
If you’re traveling in countries with a different writing system, I recommend downloading a subway map for the city. These usually have romanizations, which will make navigating public transportation much easier. I couldn’t list every subway map app for every Asian city on this list, so I’ll let you find the one you need yourself!
VPN – China
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. In China, websites such as Facebook, Google, Blogspot and Dropbox are blocked due to censorship.
To access these websites, you’ll need to use a VPN. There are numerous of VPNs to choose from. You can narrow down your choices by following our ultimate guide to choosing a VPN for China.
WeChat – China
WeChat is the WhatsApp of China. All the other main chat sites, such as LINE, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, are banned.
The good news? In my opinion, WeChat is better than all of these! With WeChat, you can do everything from chat with friends, to order taxis, to pay for your groceries or book cinema tickets. Sync this app with your Chinese or foreign credit card, and you’re good to go!
Baidu Maps – China
Baidu Maps is the Google Maps of China. (Remember, Google Maps is banned in China!)
It’s a Chinese app, so all of the Chinese characters may look intimidating. But it usually recognizes English words that you type in when searching for a spot.
LINE – Japan, Korea and Taiwan
LINE is the messaging app of East Asia, with the exception of China. It’s great for communicating with all your fellow expats and with locals!
A fun perk: LINE has original cartoon characters called LINE FRIENDS. These characters are promoted through merchandise all over East Asia. Join in on the fun and buy some merch!
Must-have Overseas Apps for Oceana
Beachsafe – Australia
There are countless amazing beaches across Australia, and it’s one of the best countries for surfing!
Beachsafe helps you find the best beach near you. It also updates you about weather and ocean conditions so you can know you’ll be safe.
It even gives you tips for surfing safely, like first aid information and ways to identify rip currents.
Zomato – Australia
Zomato is actually available in 24 countries, not just Australia.
But it’s especially useful in Australia. This country is huge, and each region is known for different types of cuisines. How can you possibly navigate all the best dishes at all the best restaurants? With Zomato, that’s how!
Search by city. Each city has different collections, such as “Trending this Week,” “Newly Opened” and “Best of.” Get ready to eat your way around Australia!
CamperMate – Australia and New Zealand
Camping New Zealand or Australia is probably one of the best travel experiences you can have.
Use this awesome travel app to find the best places to camp, as well as to check out the nearest toilet when you’re camping. This travel app will help you make the most out of your time exploring these beautiful countries.
Breadcrumbs – New Zealand
You can use Breadcrumbs in countries other than New Zealand… New Zealand just happens to be the ideal place to use it, because every inch of this tiny country is gorgeous. It all deserves to be explored.
This app helps you get off the beaten path and discover new, beautiful places that remain relatively unexplored. You get to visit amazing spots—without the crowds!
Must-have Overseas Apps for Africa
Africa Live – Throughout Africa
This great overseas travel app is produced by Wild Africa Live.
Africa Live helps you to track animals and note findings. The information is shared among users, so you can actually contribute to research and conservation efforts.
Star Walk – Throughout Africa
I never truly knew what the sky was supposed to look like until I explored deep into the Zimbabwean countryside and saw the Milky Way for the first time. Never have I gazed up at the stars in such absolute wonder.
Sound cheesy? I don’t care—you don’t know what you’re missing out on!
Star Walk is the perfect app for enjoying the night sky. It names each constellation you’re looking at.
iTrack – Throughout Africa
So you’re on safari in Africa, and you see some animal tracks. Cool!
But what animal do the tracks belong to? Identify these tracks with this cool overseas app. You can use iTrack all over the world, but it reaches its full potential on an African safari.
Using your phone on your overseas trip can be beneficial—if done right.
But remember, there are beautiful things all around you, not just on your screen. Look up every once in a while to take in your surroundings!
Zoe Stephens lives in Beijing, where she works in Chinese social media and as a freelance tour guide for North Korea. She began freelance writing when she moved to China over a year ago. Driven by her love for traveling and learning about new cultures, she’s tackling her fourth language: Chinese.
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