Traveling by yourself can be intimidating. I travel for a living and I’ll admit it’s overwhelming. No matter how much you plan, there’s something scary about being in a new place. And, if you’re outside North America, the language barrier may be problematic. But solo travel is also empowering. There’s an incredible feeling when you figure out a subway route or discover a hole-in-the-wall yourself. These days, it’s easier than ever to travel solo with the help of handy apps. Here are 10 apps solo travelers should download.
So You Stay Organized
Passes. Confirmations. Reservations. Addresses and addresses and addresses. Vacations can make you feel like you’re drowning in paperwork. TripIt consolidates everything into one handy master calendar and itinerary. You even can share your trip segments from the app to keep family and friends in the know of your whereabouts.
So You Know if Your Terminal is Lame
Not all airport terminals are created equal. GateGuru tells you exactly what to expect in popular airport terminals, from what to eat and where to shop to where to find nearby restrooms and ATMs. I use this app all the time to compare meal options when I have a layover. There’s even a comment and rating feature for fellow travelers to share their experiences.
So You Don’t Waste Data
When you’re traveling solo and abroad you need a way to check in with friends and family without running up hundreds of dollars in roaming costs or add-on international data plans on your phone. WhatsApp can make phone calls and text over WiFi so no international data plan is needed. It gets better: the app is free.
So You Don’t Get Food Poisoned
The Center for Disease Control has several great apps, but my favorite is Can I Eat This? It’s like a magic eight-ball for traveler’s diarrhea. You answer questions about where you are, what type of food you want to eat, and how it was prepared, and the app will tell you what bacteria or other dangers may be present in the food. It’s pretty harsh on street food universally but it’s a great go-to when you encounter mystery food that you’re unsure of.
So You Can Read in a Different Language
The Google Translate app has some impressive text recognition technology that allows travelers to scan signs, labels, etc. This is a lifesaver when deciphering restaurant menus, especially if you have food allergies.
So You Know How Much You’re Spending
A converter app such as the free XE Currency is a must when shopping in another country. It helps you understand how much money you’re really spending in U.S. Dollars and helps you stay on budget. I also use this to follow the market when I’m booking a trip. When I see rates drop, I take advantage of international flights, hotel reservations, and attraction tickets.
So You Never Get Rained on
There’s nothing wrong with your phone’s weather app, but a radar app goes beyond the day’s high and low. You can see impending rain and storms, plus receive severe weather alerts for your location. That’s important when you’re in a foreign place and aren’t following the local news. If you’re sunning on the beach and everyone around you starts to get up and leave, you might want to know why.
So You Can Always Find a Place to Stay
Let’s say you get spontaneous and want to visit a locals-only beach town or you love a city so much you want to stay an extra day. Adjusting a vacation home rental at the last minute is nearly impossible and hotel reservations sell out, too. Hotel Tonight helps you find available rooms in your area at deep discounted rates. Hotels list what rooms they have in hopes of filling spaces that would otherwise just stay empty. I’ve found some four- and five-star resorts on the app for a fraction of typical costs.
So You Get the Big Picture
Google Maps is great for directions once you’re in a new place, but CityMaps2Go has maps and a pin feature that make mapping out a bucket-list easy and fun. Just open up a city map and start plugging in places to visit. This is handy when getting oriented to a new city to understand the neighborhoods in which you’ll spend the most time.
So You Always Feel Safe
I love traveling by myself, but there are many places on this planet I refuse to visit as a solo female traveler (and a solo female LGBT traveler) because it just isn’t safe. But even in the safest places, sometimes, especially at night, you feel uneasy and need a way to broadcast your whereabouts. SafeTrek gives you that option. The app’s big button will alert a dispatch about where you are and if you feel uneasy. It will also silently dial 911 for you. The app isn’t free. It’s $2.99 a month or $29.99 for an annual subscription, but peace of mind is worth it.