NB: This is a guest article by Ryan Croft, founder of Croft Global Travel and CityCiao.
Many of us have become well-accustomed to using our tech gadgets around the house, in our city or across the country.
Once you step foot into another nation, however, the game immediately changes. Data roaming charges, different electrical outlets, power outages and theft complicate the process for even the savviest of travelers.
We have to quickly learn to use our smartphones outside of our comfort zone. So, here are five mobile apps that will come in handy when you find yourself across the border:
1. FindMyiPhome app
You just had a Hangover II style night in Bangkok when you woke up next to a monkey. After you put the pieces of your night back together, you realize something is missing… the phone.
All the apps in the world are useless when your phone is under the table at some Thai club. This app can be a life-saver when your lifeline in missing.
Don’t panic, head to the nearest internet café and sign in to your iTunes account from another computer. You’ll see your device’s exact location on a map and you can choose to have it display a message, play a sound, remotely lock, or wipe data permanently.
2. Skype app
Nothing is more deflating than returning from a great trip to a costly wireless bill. A great way to save on long distance calls is using the Skype app while on wifi.
This is a great alternative to buying a cheap phone with phone cards or (eek!) testing your mobile carriers roaming charges. No need to memorize the international calling code for Tanzania to call Mom, it’s all right there.
Furthermore, Skype for iPhone taps into your contact list and automatically keys in the corresponding country code so you don’t have to. Big money saver!
How is that for a back-up plan?
3. Hotelsbyme or Airbnb apps
Plans don’t always go off without a hitch. That "oceanfront villa" you booked in Costa Rica is actually a back-alley shack in the ‘hood with rodents and no electricity - so it’s time for Plan B.
Hotelsbyme is a great option to book a room based on location. It’s easy to use and provides great filters to sift through options by price, location, rating, etc.
If you are more adventurous, suggest renting a living space on Airbnb. The app makes is easy to rent apartments, lofts, villas, and more. It’s a great way to see a new place more like a local, less like a tourist.
4. Google Translate app
The PC version of Google Translate is every beginner Spanish student’s best friend. The mobile app is a practical real-world tool on-the-go.
You are stuck at a bazaar and don’t know how to say clock in Turkish. When body language and charades don’t do the trick, you fire up the Google Translate App. Just hold the translated word up to a merchant to read.
For many languages, the app can even speak the translated words for you. You save time and stress when nothing gets lost in translation.
5. Kayak’s iPhone app
Similar service to TripIt, I prefer the Kayak "My Trips" tool. Just forward your booking confirmations to Kayak for flights, lodging, ferries, rental cars, and more.
The app neatly organizes the jumbled mess into an easy to read log of each leg of your trip. The best part?
"My Trips" saves the original email so you can access it in a pinch if you happen to stray from wifi. Never again do you need to print out another flight confirmation to Rio or arrival email for that villa you rented in Argentina.