Tom Wilkinson, former CEO, AXA - Global Healthcare

Six popular apps for travelling abroad

PUBLISHED: 16 September 2019 | LAST UPDATED: 24 June 2024

We’re constantly looking to technology – smartphones in particular – to make our lives easier. Anyone moving or travelling abroad 10 years ago, for example, would have been much more limited in terms of what they could learn about a new environment. With a long list of services and an abundance of content at our fingertips, we’re now more prepared than ever for adventuring into the not-so-unknown. 

Apps in particular can be helpful for people who are travelling internationally. With over 2 million in circulation for Apple users and 2.1 million for Android, apps can make travelling the globe, getting to know a new area and keeping in touch with friends and family at home a much smoother experience.

With so many to choose from though, it can be difficult to find the perfect app. To help narrow your search, here are some of our expat community’s favourites.

1. Instagram

Instagram is not only one of the most popular social networking apps out there, but it’s also a great place to find ideas and inspiration from other travellers. I’m not just talking about the plethora of travel influencers that you could follow, though. The geolocation tagging function is particularly helpful when you’re exploring a new area, allowing you to see what others in the same place have been enjoying. 

2. Google Translate

There are plenty of translation apps to choose from, but for many, Google Translate is the go-to option. With the ability to type in what you want to say or to simply speak into the translator, you can easily communicate in the local language. You could even take a photograph of a confusing menu or street sign, and the app will translate the text for you within the photograph.

3. Skyscanner Travel Deals

Traditionally a search engine for flights, Skyscanner has now created a full-blown travel app. With cheap flights, hotels, train tickets and car hire on offer in over 30 languages, Skyscanner makes it much easier to travel the world. You can even set up ‘price alerts’, to receive notifications if the price changes on your favourite flights. This is not only useful for regular travellers, but also for those who are living in another country and want the option of booking affordable flights home at short notice.

4. WhatsApp

With more than 1 billion people using WhatsApp around the world, the number one social networking app is a clear favourite among travellers. In some countries, call minutes and texts can be incredibly expensive, so the fact that WhatsApp works entirely using data or Wi-Fi is particularly helpful. Throw in the ability to set up group chats, and it’s perfect for keeping family and friends up to date with photos, videos and news from your globe-trotting adventures. 

5. XE Currency

When on an extended stay abroad, it’s highly likely that you’ll be making some significant purchases, or at least exploring the local shopping scene. But if everything’s priced in a different currency than the one you’re paid in, it can be difficult to know if you’re overspending, especially as exchange rates fluctuate multiple times a day. The XE Currency app gives you live rates, so you can calculate exactly how much cash you’re spending. It even updates whenever you’re online to give you the most accurate rate when you’re without internet access.

6. UVI Mate

If you’re planning on visiting – or even moving to – a country that sees a little more sun than your homeland, the UVI Mate app can keep you safe from burning. With a UV forecast and an indicator of how long you might be able to spend outdoors without burning, this handy app will even remind you to take sunscreen out with you if you’re likely need it.

The information in this article is correct at the time of publishing.