Traveling to a foreign country might be all about stepping outside of your comfort zone, but let’s face it—in the 21st century, there are some non-negotiables when it comes to everyday luxuries. Everything from spending money to internet access to sending texts and calls to getting from point A to point B needs to be as manageable as possible. That way you can truly enjoy your new experiences. Then there’s also the minor to major health emergencies that can arise, so it’s best to be as prepared as possible. How does one do that without hiring a giant entourage of personal assistants? Easy. Just download some apps.
Below you’ll find the six essential apps you’ll need before ever setting foot on that international flight.
No matter what country you land in, you’re gonna need to get your money right as soon as you hit the runway. XE Currency app not only allows you to convert your dollars to every available world currency, you can also follow multiple currency exchange rates at once and calculate item costs via the currency calculator. Especially for European trips, the ability to transition smoothly from currency to currency (more countries DON’T use the Euro than DO) is crucial.
Unless you’ve taken out a second mortgage for your phone bill, wifi access is second only to food and water (and maybe booze). With a database of over 600,000 wifi hotspots and growing, Wiffinity provides the ability to download all of the wifi locations and their passwords within a particular locale, so that, even when you’ve got your cellular data turned off, your phone will automatically connect to a saved hotspot once you enter its radius. While you might have some tough luck finding wifi outside of major metropolitan areas, this app provides secure access to a vital resource.
And as soon as you land in a wifi hotspot, you can use WhatsApp as your own international cell phone plan, as you can text, make voice calls, group chat, and send and receive pics/videos—all via wifi and encrypted by the app itself. Once again, here’s an app that can save you A LOT of money if you don’t have Kim Kardashian’s data plan. Though WhatsApp’s voice calling is banned in a small handful of countries, this is the ultimate communication channel for the 21st-century traveler.
It’s one thing to road trip around your own country, only really worrying about driving directions. But what about navigating a foreign city where you don’t have your own vehicle and you need your hand held every step of the way—say, from footpath to public bus to subway to footpath and back to bus again? CityMapper does all of this, even tells you which platforms to stand on when waiting for a train. The app currently focuses on about 100 international cities, which might leave you wanting when you wander the periphery of tourist centers, but it’s likely that the smaller the city you’re in, the more manageable it is to get around without this handy app.
Foreign travel is all about trying exotic cuisines, and sometimes your bravery is rewarded with digestive disaster. Or maybe you’ve just been too busy taking in all the sights that nature isn’t just calling—it’s screaming. The Flush app will geo-locate all of the nearest public bathrooms, as well as detailing which bathrooms require a key, an entrance free, and which offer disability access. You can even search the bathroom database without an internet connection!
And for more serious emergencies, there’s the the First Aid app, developed by the American Red Cross. It offers tutorials for handling common medical situations and, even more importantly, an “Emergency” tab that gives quick step-by-step instructions for handling:
- Asthma attack
- Broken bone
- Concussion/head injury
- Diabetic emergency
- Heart attack
- Heat stroke
- Poisoning/harmful substances
- Strains & sprains
And while it’s difficult to remain calm during any emergency—an emergency in a foreign country could break a Zen monk. That’s why First Aid includes a “Call 911” button within every set of emergency instructions, as well as a nearby hospital geo-locator. And if you’re bored on the plane or waiting to connect flights, you can quiz yourself on proper medical care per situation.
Globetrotting Starts Here
At tekMountain, we not only foster a global network of investors and mentors—our Global Ambassador Program also sends young entrepreneurs out into the world to interact with innovative ecosystems across cultures and markets of all kinds. So we know the value of planning ahead, especially when embarking upon that once-in-a-lifetime experience that will shape the trajectory of your future.
Have you got the entrepreneurial spirit? Are you passionate about giving back to your global community? Contact tekMountain today to learn more about how you can apply to our Global Ambassador Program.