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16 Best Travel Apps You Need For Your Next Trip

16 Best Travel Apps You Need For Your Next Trip

Do you remember travel before smartphones? Well, I do. Although it was arguably a simpler time, the stress of finding an internet cafe to check your email / train timetable / tour booking was an unnecessary waste of precious holiday minutes.

Sure, it’s great to switch off and de-tech if you’re relaxing on a beach in Bali or Mexico. But if you’re planning on (for example) sight-seeing in Europe or road tripping through the USA, the modern-day conveniences of WiFi and a smartphone can make the journey that much better.

Now, I’m no technology guru but travelling – well, that I know. Here are 16 travel apps you need for your next trip:

1. Check in: Social media (free)

It goes without saying, really. What’s the point of going on holiday if you can’t make all your friends jealous with perfectly filtered, hash-tagged snaps of cobblestoned streets or crystal blue water? Make sure you’ve got your preferred social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) in app form so you can snap and post instantaneously along the way.

instagram
    Available on iPhone and Android

    2. Escape the selfie: Timer Auto-Camera (free)

    If you’re travelling solo (and why wouldn’t you, it’s awesome!?), there are only so many selfies or plain scenery shots you can take before you wish you had your own photographer. Enter, the Timer Auto-Camera. You can take multiple shots and choose a timer delay (5, 10, 15 or 30 seconds) so you can make it into the frame. It’s got front and back camera support and is simple to use. The obvious limitation is finding a steady surface at the right height so you can jump in the shot…

    timer auto
      Available on iPhone and iPad. 

      3. Postcard memories: Rhonna Designs (AUD$2.49)

      I’ve always wondered how those brilliant travel snaps you see on Instagram with quotes and messages get created. Forget Photoshop, just download Rhonna Designs for postcard-esque holiday snaps. There’s a huge range of graphics, quotes, texts and frames with an entire section just for travel snaps. You can add messages or quotes to your photographs to really capture the holiday moment. It’s modern day, transportable scrapbooking.

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      rhonna3

        Available on iPhone and Android

        4. Speak the lingo: DuoLingo (free)

        Over 25 million people are learning Spanish, French, German, Brazilian Portugese, Italian and Dutch for free with Duolingo. According to a recent study, 34 hours of Duolingo can give the same reading and writing capabilities as a 130+ hour university semester! The app is divided into skill sets, with the occasional test. Although it’s mostly reading, writing and listening, there is the odd speaking question. The app monitors your progress and tracks your mistakes to identify patterns, so it can test your weaker skills. Great for longer term trips and combating airport boredom.

        duolingo
          Available on iPhone and Android

          5. Get un-lost: Google Maps (free)

          Although I highly recommend getting lost in a foreign city (such as Verona or Santorini), it’s not as fun when it’s not on purpose. What did we do before Google Maps? It saves money on renting a GPS with your hire car or carrying around pesky fold out maps that scream tourist. It knows where you are (which is always a good start) and lets you switch between map, street or satellite view – even 3D view. Not paying for data or roaming? Just download the maps you need before you leave the hotel/hostel lobby to use offline for up to 30 days. (Make sure you’ve got the latest version, iOS 3.0 or Android 8.)

          googlemaps

            Available on iPhone and Android

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            6. Stay in touch: Viber / WhatsApp (Free)

            I honestly couldn’t decide between Whatsapp and Viber, so I’d recommend getting both. These must-have travel apps allow you to send texts and communicate with family, friends and new travel buddies through WiFi or cellular data, rather than eating into your call plan. You just enter your phone number and the app searches your phone contacts for those also using the app. Whatsapp (owned by Facebook) is great for text and picture messaging – you can also send pre-recorded voice messages by tapping and holding the microphone button. Viber (now owned by a large Japanese e-commerce company) is ok for texting but, more importantly, you can make voice calls to other mobiles that have Viber. You can also “Viber Out” when you want to call a landline or mobile that doesn’t have Viber by adding credit (through the app and your app store) and dialling the number as usual – super cheap call rates. Viber displays your credit balance and, best of all, it doesn’t expire! No excuses for not returning your Mum’s call on holiday now.

            viberout whatsapp

              Available on iPhone and Android. 

              7. Beat jet lag: Jetlag Genie (AUD $3.79)

              Recent studies have suggested that the best way to beat jet lag (besides staying super hydrated) is to adjust your sleeping patterns to the new timezone a couple of days before you leave. Sleep medicine specialist at the University of Chicago, Dr. Lisa Medalie, told Forbes that “If flying east, passengers should gradually advance (i.e. move bedtime earlier) and if flying west they should gradually delay (i.e. move bedtime later)”. The Jetlag Genie lets you input your travel dates, destination and usual sleeping times to produce a personalized alarm clock for the week before you fly. The hardest part is actually adhering to the recommended sleep schedule!

              jetlaggenie
                Available for iPhone

                8. Keep the change: XE (free)

                Trying to work out if VND$98,453.64 is an absolute rip off for sunglasses in Vietnam can be tricky at the best of times (it’s AUD$5). A must-have travel app, the XE app gives access to live exchange rates, so you can keep track of your precious holiday savings. You can use it offline too, because it stores the last updated rates. It’s super easy to use – just tap on the currency you want and it provides comparison values in up to 10 currencies.

                XE
                  Available on iPhone and Android

                  9. Keep organized: My eVault (free)

                  This is an award winning personal inventory, travel and insurance app that lets you store warranties, tax receipts and photos (like for that really expensive SLR camera you decided to take backpacking through South America or the Tiffanys purchase you just had to make in NYC). Plus, you can backup photos of your passport, bank cards, frequent flyer cards and licences so they are all safe and handy if/when you need them.

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                  evault
                    Available on iPhone.

                    10. Stretch it out: Pocket Yoga ($3.79)

                    Now you can travel with your own personal yoga instructor. Pocket Yoga lets you pick a theme (Ocean, Desert, Mountain or Sun Salutations), duration (30, 45 or 60 minutes) and difficulty (beginner, intermediate or expert). It talks you through the postures, with gentle music and an animated instructor. The voice over is a little robotic sometimes, but all in all this is a great app that can help you channel your inner-yogi from anywhere in the world. Namaste.

                    pocketyoga
                      Available on iPhone and Android

                      11. Rain, hail or shine: AccuWeather (Free)

                      Holidays are not always weather-dependent, but it helps to plan your days knowing if you should be making the most of the 30 degree sunshine at the beach or checking out the art galleries to avoid the torrential downpour. AccuWeather gives a minute-by-minute weather forecast that is “hyper-localized” to your exact street address.

                      screen568x568
                        Available on iPhone and Android.

                        12. Dine right: Foodspotting (free)

                        Fancy paella on the street of Barcelona? Authentic gumbo in New Orleans? Best goulash in Prague? This app will help you satisfy any craving on the road. You can search through user and expert reviews to find the best recommended dishes in your area. The app focuses on dishes, rather than restaurants, which is great for travelling and exploring the real taste of a city.

                        foodspotting

                          Available on iPhone and Android.

                          13. Be (over)prepared: TravelSmart (free)

                          This app is a bit like having an over-protective mother as a kid – it feels slightly lame and unnecessary at the time, but if things go horribly wrong, you’re glad she’s got the hospital on speed-dial and is on a first-name basis with the pharmacist. TravelSmart gives you details of reputable local hospitals, emergency numbers, a drug dictionary and first aid language translations.  It’s also sponsored by Allianz Global Assistance – a must have for any holiday.

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                          travelsmart
                            Available on iPhone and Android.

                            14. Explore: World Around Me (free)

                            The ultimate travel app, “WAM” was rated as the Top Traveler App by National Geographic Traveler. You hold the phone at eye level, point the camera at your surroundings and select what you’re looking for – restaurants, bars, ATMs, galleries, stations, pharmacy, gym etc – you name it and WAM uses augmented reality technology to find it. Just tap to see reviews, opening hours, directions, contact details and a whole host of other information (such as WiFi availability, outdoor seating, accepts credit cards etc). You can also vary the distance from 100 meters to 50 kilometers, depending on how far away you’re willing to venture (it’s most accurate when used outside). Whether it’s a gym in Monaco, a bar in Kenya or a synagogue in Barcelona, just WAM it.

                            WAM
                              Available on iPhone and Android.

                              15. Uber (free)

                              Uber is now available in over 44 countries and 130 cities – everywhere from Memphis to Lima to Johannesburg to Stockholm – and the list will continue to grow. Just like at home, you open the app and order a car, receiving an estimated arrival time and courtesy text message. The driver’s photo, name and contact number will pop up once accepted. You don’t need cash (just a credit card linked to your account through the app). Word of warning – apparently the Uber cars in Asia are much more high-end, so perhaps get a fare estimate first to avoid ruining your holiday with a nasty bill.

                              uber
                                Available on iPhone and Android

                                16. Lost in translation: iStone Travel (free)

                                You should always at least try to speak the local language when travelling. But sometimes asking for a ham sandwich or directions to the bathroom can be trickier than expected and it gets lost in translation. The iStone app lets you record sentences and translates into 12 languages, with more than 300 pre-recorded common phrases. The voice-overs have native pronunciation and it works even without WiFi.

                                istone
                                  Available on iPhone

                                   

                                  There are so many more apps out there designed to make travelling that much easier. I think there’s a fine line between technology being a help and a hindrance on holiday, so make sure you select the right tools for you and your trip!

                                  Featured photo credit: PhotoPin via flickr.com

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                                  Last Updated on September 10, 2019

                                  7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

                                  7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

                                  Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.

                                  Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.

                                  This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.

                                  One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.

                                  Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!

                                  Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.

                                  1. Gratitude

                                  Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.

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                                  The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.

                                  Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.

                                  So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.

                                  Gratitude-Quotes

                                    2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks

                                    This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.

                                    For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.

                                    What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.

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                                    Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.

                                    3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing

                                    This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.

                                    Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.

                                    An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.

                                    Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective  (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.

                                    write down goals

                                      4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises

                                      According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things;[1] and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.

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                                      There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:

                                      5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon

                                      Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.

                                      Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.

                                      6. Rise Earlier

                                      The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.

                                      For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.

                                      So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.

                                      Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.[2]

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                                      7. Listen to Uplifting Music

                                      Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.

                                      Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.

                                      It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.

                                      Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.

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                                      Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com

                                      Reference

                                      [1] Live Science: What Is Qi Gong
                                      [2] Harvard Business Review: Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm

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