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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 August 13, 2020

                                  12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

                                  12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

                                  As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

                                  1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

                                  I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

                                  Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

                                  Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

                                  2. What is the purpose of meditation?

                                  The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

                                  It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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                                  Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

                                  In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

                                  You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

                                  This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

                                  The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

                                  Less Physical, More Psychological

                                  Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

                                  This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

                                  The First Benefit of Meditation

                                  The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

                                  1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
                                  2. Relaxation of the body

                                  Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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                                  Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

                                  That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

                                  When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

                                  When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

                                  Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

                                  Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

                                  This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

                                  Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

                                  Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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                                  This benefit takes you to the second one.

                                  The Second Benefit of Meditation

                                  While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

                                  1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
                                  2. Observance
                                  3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
                                  4. Patience

                                  Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

                                  You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

                                  This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

                                  1. Energy

                                  Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

                                  2. Observance

                                  The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

                                  3. Peacefulness

                                  Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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                                  4. Patience

                                  The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

                                  The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

                                  Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

                                  Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

                                  The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

                                  • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
                                  • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
                                  • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
                                  • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
                                  • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
                                  • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

                                  These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

                                  Final Thoughts

                                  Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

                                  Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

                                  Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

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                                  Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

                                  Reference

                                  [1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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