Once I knew I was going to Italy, I decided I wanted to learn some Italian. I had the best intentions. I was going to make every effort to speak to the locals in their own language. It would be amazing. In a few, short weeks I would know all the most important phrases and by the end of my trip – I’d be an expert.

Of course, real life happened and after the first week I stopped taking my language courses. What started off as an adventure slowly became a burden. So I switched strategies. I needed to know Italian, but I didn’t have time to become an expert. I wanted to be able to navigate the world on the go! Luckily, someone else must’ve had the same issues because there are a lot of apps out there that make traveling and communicating easier. Below is my list of the most important apps you need while traveling abroad.

  • AirBnB: Love ’em or hate ’em…AirBnB what I use when looking for accommodations. I don’t just get a room, but often I have a washer/dryer PLUS a built-in tour guide. All of the hosts I’ve stayed with have been amazing resources for places to shop, eat or see.
  • Google Translate: This is my go-to when I need something translated. I just hold the app in front of the sign and GT automatically translates the text for me. Plus, I can open it and translate speech when my own language skills fail me. So far I’ve figured out what days to take out the trash and how to sort plastics from paper. Very Green of me! 😉
  • Bravolol: I love the cute graphics and the ability to learn quick phrases on the go. This was especially helpful when I tried to ask for a bag at the grocery store. Note to self: Keep all bags you purchase and re-use them! The app is free to download with premium content available for a nominal fee. The best part is, you can easily make use of the free content and it’s still helpful! You can view simple phrases, record yourself and mark your progress. I just mastered Good Morning, Good Afternoon and Good Night. I’m a pro now, right?
  • Currency XE: If you don’t have Google Now, this app is the next best thing. Instantly calculate how much that new dress you saw in that store down that one alley with all the Christmas lights will cost you. If you’ve got Google Now, you’ll see this on a flash card automatically and be able to calculate price tags in real time. Regardless, not doing Math while on vacation has always been a plus for me. 😛

Of course there are transportation apps, food apps, etc that you can add to help round out your trip, but these four are my must-haves to help me navigate new environments with as little friction as possible.

Featured Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash