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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 January 15, 2019

                                  8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

                                  8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

                                  In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

                                  Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

                                  Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

                                  Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

                                  Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

                                  The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

                                  There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

                                  How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

                                  According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

                                  Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

                                  Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

                                  The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

                                  Listen carefully:

                                  We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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                                  The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

                                  Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

                                  8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

                                  There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

                                  Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

                                  1. Pray Daily

                                  You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

                                  When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

                                  Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

                                  Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

                                  2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

                                  A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

                                  By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

                                  Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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                                  If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

                                  This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

                                  How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

                                  3. Smile Often

                                  Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

                                  Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

                                  Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

                                  The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

                                  4. Organize Your Working Desk

                                  A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

                                  When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

                                  Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

                                  Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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                                  5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

                                  I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

                                  Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

                                  What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

                                  6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

                                  God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

                                  I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

                                  I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

                                  7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

                                  You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

                                  How do you do that? This is my formula:

                                  First, go to my website (find my website here in my profile) and take the smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

                                  If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

                                  If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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                                  If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

                                  Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

                                  8. Go Exercise

                                  Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

                                  The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

                                  You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

                                  12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

                                  The Bottom Line

                                  It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

                                  It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

                                  Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

                                  More Resources About Mindfulness

                                  Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

                                  Reference

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