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Download These Essential Travel Apps before Your Next Trip

Top International Travel Apps
Allianz - Top International Travel Apps

Travel apps can help you find everything from the best food in an airport to the best seat on a particular plane. But which of these apps are essential, and which are just fun to have? When you're traveling overseas, what you need most are apps that can help you with navigation, translation and medical emergencies.

We’ve found 11 of the top travel apps for international trips. Most are available for both iOS and Android devices. One note: Pay attention to your surroundings before pulling out an iPhone or other expensive devices while you're traveling overseas. In many countries, no one will give you a second glance; in some, you're issuing an invitation to thieves.

Top Travel Apps for Language Translation

It makes for one of the most awkward moments when traveling abroad: feverishly thumbing through a paper translation guide and making your best guess at the pronunciation of a new word while a server waits impatiently.

It’s why you thought you ordered the pasta special but are now staring at a large fish, eye to eye. Of course, sometimes the scenario can be a bit more serious. And perhaps the next time you need language translated in a jiffy, it’s to find a medical facility after that very fish landed you in bed for 48 hours.

Battery-operated, handheld digital translators bridged the language gap a little bit, but our smartphones finally provided us the most seamless way of communicating with native speakers. Compare today’s top language translation apps head to head, and you’ll notice that functionality-wise, they’re pretty close. It often comes down to personal preference,  and occasionally the type of phone or operating system, when determining your selection.

With the ability to translate between 103 languages through typing — including 59 of those languages offline — Google Translate is a top pick whether you’re an Android or Apple (iOS) fan. Additionally, Google’s app can translate text from your camera for nearly 40 languages and enable two-way speech translation — and do both lickety-split. Best of all, it’s all free.1

Another freebie that works with almost any smartphone is Microsoft Translator, which also includes a split-screen mode so you can have a real-time conversation — and you don’t even need to speak the same language.2

If you’re loyal to Apple, you may want to download iTranslate before your upcoming trip to Sao Paulo, which can sync up with your Apple Watch, as well as the iMessage App and keyboard extension, and can even account for different dialects. Note that the iTranslate app is a pay-for translation service, with three pricing and services structures available.3

Top Travel Apps for Navigation

Navigation apps have come a long way, from simply pointing the way from here to there to offering real-time traffic and crowd-sourced shortcuts. Perhaps best of all, all the apps detailed below are free to download and use (although data rates may apply).

Have a road trip coming up — or a vacation abroad that requires piloting a rental car from city to city? Waze is a navigation app and a social platform wrapped into one. Available for Android and iPhone, the popular app combines navigation capabilities with the input of millions of other drivers. The upshot is a real-time feed that warns you of hazards, adjusts travel times and routes on the fly, helps you find the cheapest gas, and ultimately helps whoever is riding shotgun on your next road trip fully embrace the role of navigator. Depending on your vehicle, you can even sync the app up with your car’s existing display, giving you one less potential distraction.4

If the biggest travel challenge of your next itinerary is navigating public transit, there’s an app for that, too. Citymapper is an award-winning app that gives you an answer to the eternally puzzling question any big city can pose, “What’s the fastest way to get there?” You’ll get the dish on whether you should take the ferry, head underground for a subway, or take to the streets on foot. Citymapper even offers real-time arrival and departure time for a number of cities’ transit systems, including the NYC’s MTA, the Chicago CTA and Boston MBTA. But our favorite feature? One that provides peace of mind for our greatest fear: falling asleep on the bus. With the app’s well-timed alarm, you’ll never wake up 30 minutes and 5 miles past your stop. Citymapper is available on Android and iOS devices and is currently available in about 40 cities, so be sure to check availability in your destination before downloading.5

OK, but what about your standard, get-me-from-here-to-there navigation app? Google Maps is still head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. Sure, the aforementioned Waze is making inroads. And Apple Maps has rebounded after stalling from accuracy problems early on. But Google Maps remains the go-to, bread-and-butter app for entering two points and getting directions from ‘A’ to ‘B’ — no matter your method of transportation.  Plus, thanks to its unmatched amount of geolocated ratings and reviews, you can always find what you’re looking for along the way.6

Top Travel Apps for Health and Safety

No travelers want to spend substantial time imagining what they’ll do if they experience a setback while traveling, whether it’s a sprained ankle, identity theft or something much worse. By taking the time to download a few key apps, you’ll also pack some peace of mind on your getaway.

Let’s start with the old reliable method of addressing a medical crisis in the United States: calling 911. Of course, it’s not 911 everywhere (and in fact, it’s 119 in Jamaica). Allianz Global Assistance’s free TravelSmart app will connect you with the local emergency responders no matter your location around the globe. Additionally, if you’ve purchased a travel insurance plan through Allianz Global Assistance — a smart idea if you’re traveling across the country or the world — you’ll be able to instantly access your plan to check on benefit coverage levels or other details.7

Now let’s talk about how you’re making that connection from your smartphone. Internet cafés and public wifi are super convenient when you’re abroad and looking to email family or even make a quick transfer to your checking account. But such connections can run rampant with unscrupulous characters looking to gain access to your computer or steal your personal information. With the SaferVPN app, you can protect your data from hackers through secure 256-bit encryption — all with a single click from any of your devices. Tiered pricing means you can find a plan that fits your budget.8

The ICE Standard ER 911 app adds your emergency contact and medical information to your phone lock screen, making it easy for emergency responders to access.Finally, make sure you download the First Aid by American Red Cross app. One of the must-have free travel apps, it includes instructions for administering first aid in various situations, and no internet connection is required. There’s an app for pet first aid too!10

We get it, you don’t want to spend your trip staring at your phone. But you also don’t want to spend extended time staring at a sign for the wrong bus stop or a hefty medical bill because you took way too long to figure out what to do about that bee sting — and the subsequent allergic reaction. Take a moment to download a few of these critical travel apps and you’ll arrive fully assured you’re ready for any situation.

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