Traveling out of the country often means little or no internet connection. While you can purchase data to use abroad or access wifi at an internet cafe, these connections can be spotty and unreliable. This isn’t entirely a bad thing, because I believe that time spent traveling is the perfect time for a technology detox, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to be totally off the grid. Especially when traveling solo, your smartphone is a source of safety and connection - even if you can’t catch a signal. Here are 7 useful apps you can use while traveling that require no internet connection:
1. Google Maps
Most of us know about Google Maps, but did you know that you can download maps to use offline? You can easily download a complete map of any city- in fact, you could download an area half the size of Portugal if needed. Of course, this will take up storage space in your phone, but it’s a small price to pay for the ability to search and get directions without internet. As an added tip, I have learned to always double check that Google Maps is leading me to the correct destination. There had been times when I blindly followed the directions on Google Maps only to find that the address it was sending me to was completely wrong. Not only is this dangerous, but it’s irresponsible. Now, I always look at the destination, because the last thing I need as a solo traveler is to get lost or end up in an unsafe area.
2. Google Translate
Again, just like Google Maps, you can use Google Translate offline as well. Just download whatever language you will need ahead of time, and you will be able to utilize Google Translate just as you would using the internet. You can even take pictures of signs or any sort of text, and Google Translate will translate the written text for you. This is an incredibly useful tool, especially when visiting areas where the local language has no remote resemblance to your native tongue. Alternatively, ili is a one-way translation device which translates English into either Spanish, Mandarin or Japanese. It requires no internet connection, is fast, efficient and easy to use. Ili’s one-way communication channel limits it’s use, but it’s ability to function entirely offline is a big plus. This is a device worth looking into if Spanish, Mandarin or Japanese is the local language of your destination.
As an added note: I believe it is extremely beneficial to brush up on a few language basics before you visit a foreign country. Knowing how to ask, “Do you know where this museum is?” or “Where is the bathroom?” can be extremely helpful. Furthermore, simply attempting to speak the native language goes a long way with locals. It shows you respect their culture, and that you care enough to try. In turn, they may be more willing to help you!
TripIt is an app that organizes all your flight, hotel, rental car (etc.) confirmation emails into one itinerary which you can access at any time, even offline. This app allows you to store all your important travel documents and information in one place. This organized itinerary can be edited, synched with your calendar, and forwarded to friends, family, or anyone else you might want to share your travel information with. Beyond confirmation numbers, TripIt can store your passport number, drivers license information, and anything else you might need in one spot- and it’s password protected for extra security. Although I have never used this app, I am the kind of person who struggles with organization, so I definitely intend to give TripIt a try on my next trip!
Have you ever come across an article, tweet, blog post, or any piece of information on the internet that you wanted to read, but didn’t have the time right then and there? I know I have, and typically I save these things to my reading list or bookmark for later. However, often times I forget about them, or I can’t access them while offline. While researching for this post, I came across an app called Pocket. Pocket is an app that stores all the content you want to read, but don’t have time for at the present moment. It keeps everything in one place, and even allows you to access this information offline. This is a great place to keep any information you may come across while researching for a trip, or even just in your day-to-day life. This app can be utilized across multiple devices, ensuring that information you’ve saved from your computer, tablet, or kindle can be accessed from your mobile phone.
5. XE Currency
This is a currency exchange app which is pretty straightforward. While you could just memorize the current exchange rate and perform calculations in your head, this can become difficult when you start dealing with large numbers. Rather than guessing how much money you’re spending, keep track of your finances and stay within your budget by using an app like XE Currency. There’s nothing like returning from a fabulous trip only to be shocked by your credit card bill when you return. In fact, money concerns are one of the biggest things that hold people back from traveling, but when you take a moment to create a budget (and stick to it) you might find that the trip you’ve been wanting to take is much more feasible than you thought.
6. Podcast Apps (Apple Podcasts, Spotify)
While traveling, it is inevitable that you will experience down time. Time spent driving, flying and waiting can be occupied with entertainment such a movies and books, but if you’re looking for something different, try downloading a few podcasts to listen to. There is an entire world of podcasts out there which cover almost any topic you can think of. Choose an area of interest, be it shopping, nutrition, politics, religion, travel, geology, anything, and there’s most likely a podcast for it. The great thing about podcasts is you can download them and listen to them offline- a major plus while traveling! If you’re unsure exactly what a podcast is, check out this blog post, and check out our very own podcast: Solo Travel Talk with Astrid!
Many people are aware of Netflix as a video streaming service, but did you know that you can watch TV shows and movies on Netflix without streaming? While not all videos are available for download, Netflix offers a fair number of TV shows and movies for offline viewing. This option is only available on the Netflix app, which you can get on almost any smartphone or tablet, but unfortunately, not on your MacBook. Otherwise, the Netflix app is a great source of entertainment that you can rely on without any internet. This is something to keep in mind for long flights. Don’t assume that every plane will offer in-flight entertainment as this is not the case. You might end up flipping through the same issue of Sky News 10 times before you finally reach your destination.
I feel it is important to say that disconnecting from my phone, the internet, and the outside world is one of my favorite parts of traveling. When we put away our devices, we can truly be wherever it is we are in the world. Traveling with technology is all about striking a balance. You don’t want to be dependent on your smartphone, but there are certain times when it certainly comes in handy. I hope some of these apps can aid you in your travels, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself as well. Always prioritize your safety, but I encourage you to see how much you can accomplish on your own … You might surprise yourself.
Any thoughts or suggestions? Let us know in the comments!
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Author: Madeline Freret
Madeline joined the Astrid Solo Travel Advisor team as a Content and Digital Marketing Manager in 2018. She believes that traveling is an essential aspect of life that allows you to see yourself, other people, places and things in a new light. She is passionate about trying new things, having a curious mind and seeking joy wherever she goes. To read more about her and each one of our Solo Travel Advisors, head over to the About page!