7 Travel Apps to Improve your Life Abroad

Which new or underrated or growing travel Apps will save the day while you live or travel abroad this year? What would be the ideal “travel pack” among the smartphones and tablets apps? Which apps are broad or versatile enough to be used by a twenty-something studying abroad and a fifty-something on a business trip to Rio or Dubai?

If you spend a lot of time abroad, there is little doubt you have learnt to rely on technology to help you with a variety of small problems. With the right tool, you can order food, buy a ticket, pay a bill. You can look up a time table, and translate your question in any language. However, it doesn’t take long to notice that some popular ‘travel apps’ have a limited focus. In short, not everyone is travelling to New York or looking for a restaurant or an address in Paris.

If you are looking for more than a google app or a hotel booking site, you may want to take a few minutes to check the following smartphone and tablet applications. Useful, practical or quirky, open them after booking your ticket, once you have landed, when you get hungry or are looking to have a great time in a city you have just moved to.

Culture Trip

If you ever sat in a restaurant where you were offered a drink or a dessert in exchange for a good review on an advisor-y website, you then know how biased a recommendation can be.

The UK-based Culture Trip was created in 2011 as a new generation of travel guides. It has what most other travel websites or web-applications seem to lack desperately: the personal touch, the shared experience, the aromas and the colours. With a base of approximately 60 000 posts on food, culture, monuments or simply the best cafes in thousands of cities around the world, Culture Trip has slowly become the new reference guide to every night out, brunch with friends, gallery exhibitions or art and craft shops in your new home town.

Culture Trip for Android  /  Culture Trip for IOS

Waze Navigation & Live Traffic

Although Google map is probably the best known app to help you get from one place to another, Waze is the world’s largest community-based real-time navigation app.  It gives you access to real time traffic and information (for example, the price of fuel has user-updates) in more than 50 languages. Wherever you are traveling to, Waze is there.

One downside to be noted: Waze requires data. And although this may not be a problem if you travel through the European Union, where data roaming is free, it may be a little harder if you are using your australian Sim card in Singapore. Time to look into your roaming options and cost if you are traveling abroad. It is, however, an ideal tool for expatriates or business travellers who often have local data or an international data package. Alternatively, pick up a local sim card from within the airport you landed in, as those are aimed at incoming travellers.

Waze for Android  /  Waze for IOS


Airbnb Experiences

More than a roof over your head, Airbnb now offers a wide range of activities to explore around the world.

Airbnb – Experiences

Very rare are the people who have not heard of Airbnb when looking for a holiday rental. But have you heard of a new category within the app called “Experiences”? This new option aims at offering a wide range of activities organised by hosts.

Would you like to cook in Paris or ride a horse on a Gold Coast beach? How about a ghost tour around Edinburgh with your family? With an extensive list of possibilities at moderate prices, Experiences is bringing a new and ingenious way to discover a city.

Airbnb for Android  /  Airbnb for IOS


In the age of absolute Instagram and Snapchat power, you may wonder why I would talk about Flickr. Probably because after 14 years of experience, Flickr is the preferred option of most photographers, bloggers and photo researchers. More versatile, you can access it via more than just your phone. On the broader screen of a tablet or computer, the higher quality of the photos adds to your experience.

Forget scrolling through hundreds or thousands of selfies or cute pet photos taken in Göteborg, Tokyo or Puebla. Download the smartphone or tablet Flickr app, search the city or region you are interested in and voilà. Let yourself be amazed by the extensive online data base of gorgeous photos. The info option of each photo gives you access to the exact location the photo was taken at. In the same way, many Flickr members join groups. Look up Sapporo, and spend some time musing through the gorgeous “Sapporo by Night” group album for example.

Flickr for Android  / Flickr for IOS

Travelling abroad? Get an idea of where you are going by doing a search on Flickr

Travelling abroad? Get an idea of where you are going by doing a search on Flickr


I have to start this part by saying I have never believed in ready-made travel lists. Hopefully this adds value to including Packpoint to this list of travel apps.

Packpoint is not just a list maker, it is a SMART list maker. It asks for your travel dates, calculates the amount of days, checks the location, the weather forecast or average weather. Packpoint asks you to enter multiple details, such as your planned activities, or wether you are going away on holiday or business. As such, and although it will of course recommend to pack exactly the right amount of clean underwear, it will adjust the list of possible items to include the various selections you have made.

Are you intrigued yet? The App is free with possible in-app purchases. For your phone, your tablet, IOS or Android system, download here.


You probably already have a favourite flight or hotel booking app. Most of us have. But don’t be mistaken, that’s not what Rome2Rio is.

Rome2Rio is the ultimate travel search engine to include the trip beyond the journey. It helps you carry on your way once you have landed abroad, very far away from home. What are the ways to reach a smaller town in a distant country? This app presents you with multiple ways to get places, find your train after your flight, and where to get off to find a bus or a ferry. Self-described as “a door-to-door travel information and booking engine”, Rome2Rio is the ultimate resource for the avid traveller.

Rome2Rio for Android  /  Rome2Rio for IOS


For many years, I was one of those people who kept restaurant or boutique cards, so that I could visit the place again on a future trip. Now I have Mapstr.

Imagine a mapping app to keep track of all your favourite places. An app that allows to enter coordinates of places you have been to, places you have been recommended, places you hated and want to make sure you do not book again by accident. The tagging system lets you chose the categories and and even create your own : Child-friendly restaurant, bar – romantic, hairdressers recommended by Lucy.

Now you may wonder what the difference is with Foursquare/Swarm. The answer is simple. Mapstr is personal and private. Your friends won’t be notified each time you visit a place. You decide what place you share with whom.

Mapstr for Android  /  Mapstr for IOS


City lights in China

With so many gigantic cities, most of them looking and feeling like permanent construction sites, China may leave your photographic eye a little frustrated. You do have to go a long way to find those amazing and picturesque landscapes the brochure guides made you dream about. If you are traveling, you will find your way to picturesque Guilin or Sanya. But if you are an expat, your daily life is likely to be in one of the major cities, mostly an industrial one.

China has a lot to offer to the explorer and the photographer, especially on the street side. A few minutes of walking along the streets of any Chinese city will make you feel very overwhelmed: crowd, movement, speed, smells, and a myriad of visual contrasts. Street photography is not an easy exercise, especially if, like me, and unlike the Chinese, you feel self conscious at the idea of pointing your phone or camera to people’s faces and on-going activities.

Summer night on a street of Beijing vs winter summer night in Shenyang

Summer night on a street of Beijing vs winter summer night in Shenyang

So here is a quick thought for you if you come to visit the Middle Kingdom. Step out in the city at night. I do it regularly with my favourite Hipstamatic Lenses, because the filters add to the magic of the street lights.

Both above and under ground, electric lights and LED

Both above and under ground, electric lights and LED

The bright Chinese LED lights will bring you all sorts of sights. You can follow a gritty trail, or step into scenes that will, no doubt, remind you of Blade Runner.


Street vendor in winter in North China

Street vendor in winter in North China

Late night street view in Hong Kong

Late night street view in Hong Kong