A recent trip across the pond could have ended in disaster were it not for the free apps I used to undo the calamity of my poor planning. For example, I was advised to get a sim card for a local number once I got to my host country, but I was not told – or didn’t understand what it meant – that your phone must be ‘unlocked’ in order for it to work. So imagine my surprise when I paid good euros for a card that I couldn’t use. I worked around that by using my Starbucks app to locate the nearest store, and used their free wifi to get in touch with a friend who helped me remedy the situation.
I made a smart move, however by using the Groupon app to make purchases from Vista Print before I left home. I got great deals on business cards and had phrases like “take me to Hotel Du Jour” printed up in different languages according to the country I was in and where I was staying. They made great ice breakers, and more than once helped me get back on track when I’d been dropped off in the wrong location by an over-zealous taxi driver.
Evernote is so useful I don’t know how I lived without it. I use it when I’m travelling to save notes, contact info, and hastily scribbled info so that I have it at my fingertips when I arrive at my destination. I love that I can add notes, images and keep them all neatly in one place. The search feature is really useful when you’re not sure which file you saved a phrase or idea in. It will highlight all files that contain that tip, so you don’t have to open and close files searching in vain.
Another problem I ran into was dealing with currency exchange rates. There are tons of apps available for that, but I’ve found XE to be the one I turn to when I’m dealing with a questionable situation and don’t want to get scammed. It will tell you if the rate you are being offered is the best so that you can complete the transaction, or make a polite get away.
Investing in my Kindle app has been the best money I’ve ever spent in that category. Well, it’s free, but still, to me, on a long flight, it’s worth a million bucks. I have lots of books stored on it and can easily pick up where I left off between flights, or when I need something to help me go “nite-nite” in a strange land.