5 Essential Apps for Travelers and Expats

Guest Post by Tori Atkinson

image of smartphone apps menuTechnology can be a lifesaver when you’re on the go – and this is especially true when traveling or moving abroad, where you’re in an unfamiliar environment. Having information access at your fingertips thanks to your smartphone can ensure you get the most out of your trip or make your transition to another lifestyle a little bit smoother.

‘As a keen camper and traveller, I find I rely more and more on technology to make my travel experiences as easy as possible – leaving me free to concentrate on having fun. Google Maps makes the journey smooth – and means I can easily change my mind and detour if the opportunity arises.‘

– Che Hope, travel and camping blogger.

With the help of our traveling companions, we’ve gathered 5 of the best travel apps to help you on your way:

Google Maps

While it might seem like an obvious choice, most people don’t use this handy app to its full potential. Google Maps really is unbeatable when you’re looking for directions – and its live navigation functionality can even work as your own personal Sat Nav.

However, the real reason we’ve included Google Maps is because of its route planner. Using public transport in a foreign country can be an extremely daunting prospect — especially if you don’t speak the local language. In most major cities, Google Maps allows you to select public transport as your desired mode of getting from A to B, providing you with easy to follow step-by-step instructions for even the most complex public transport systems.

Smart home apps

Whether you’re moving abroad and maintaining a property at home or you own a holiday home which you frequent, household bills can always be a concern. However, new smart home apps allow you control things like your heating and hot water system from your phone. And the best part? It even works from a different country — all you need is an internet connection and the app!

It doesn’t stop there, either — there are now systems which even allow you to switch off lights and appliances via your smartphone, giving you peace of mind when it comes to your electricity bills.


Skype has been a longtime favorite for travelers and expats worldwide. This nifty app allows you to keep in touch with friends and family from anywhere in the world, providing you have an internet connection — and you can even make calls straight from your smartphone using Wi-Fi or mobile data.

Thanks to its video call functionality, you can see a familiar face whenever you’re missing home — something anyone who’s spent a significant amount of time abroad will cherish.

‘As a UK expat living and working in Cape Town, South Africa, I have Skype to thank for making it all possible. The Skype Number feature is great, allowing me to rent a UK landline number – and this means all my friends and family back home can call me using their normal phone at affordable rates. It’s also been invaluable when it comes to work, allowing me to keep in touch with employers and carry out freelance work from abroad.’

– Kate Haywood, expat and freelance blogger.


Whether you’re travelling or settling into your new home abroad, getting used to the local currency can be a challenge. The XE Currency App provides up-to-date exchange rates, and its currency calculator means you can work out prices and keep track of expenses on the go. It’s also incredibly useful for expats, helping you to conveniently calculate the cost of living in your new destination.

Google Translate

The Google Translate app is truly a marvel of modern technology. Able to translate between 90 different languages, it’s an invaluable resource on your travels or when settling into life abroad.

However, it’s the app’s recent upgrades which make Google Translate a travel essential, allowing you to input the words you want to translate with your voice, via your smartphone’s camera and keyboard and even with your handwriting!

Unless you’ve got a local sim card, the cost of mobile data usage can always be a concern — which is why Google has now introduced an offline feature, allowing you to save languages to your phone simply by marking them as favourites.

picture of author Tori AtkinsonAuthor Tori Atkinson is a travel writer and technology blogger, funding her adventures as a freelancer.

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