Whether you’re passing through TSA Pre-Check for your umpteenth business trip this year or you’re hitting the road for an epic adventure with friends, traveling requires both organization and flexibility to make sure you have a good trip. Fortunately, your smartphone can provide a big boost to your preparations and help you make your way through new places without a hitch.
Download these handy travel apps before you leave to enjoy a less stressful, more carefree trip.
Word Lens is a futuristic app that uses your phone’s camera to translate foreign phrases right before your eyes. Select the language you need, center the sign or menu item in your camera’s viewfinder, and the program turns the letters on your screen into English right before your eyes — no unwieldy dictionary required. Word Lens recently partnered with Google, so expect more updates to the app as Google Translate continues to improve functionality.
Currency is one of the original apps for iPhone, and it has yet to be surpassed for sheer accuracy and user-friendliness — especially now that it’s available for Android users, too. You can type any currency amount onto your screen and have it converted into any other currency — or even do several at the same time. This simple interface makes it easy to toggle between currencies, especially for long trips overseas. It’s also useful back home for e-commerce in other countries.
TripIt is the one app you need to organize all your booking confirmations into one complete trip itinerary. When you sign up, just forward your emails from everything from the airline to that Airbnb room to TripIt, and they’ll magically appear in your itinerary on the app. It’s the perfect way to keep track of your check-in times, train departures and contact information for every stop on your journey.
The MyTSA app is available on both Apple and Android devices, and frequent flyers find it a lifesaver for getting through airport security — or at least knowing what to expect before you arrive. You can log in to check the security line wait times, airport delays and even local weather to help you plan just how early you really need to arrive at the airport. There are also helpful reminders about all the rules for carry-on items so you don’t get stuck throwing away your shampoo.
Though the Google Maps app can’t be beat with its handy navigation and detailed transit information about the United States, it’s not always tops in other countries. Waze takes things to the next level by providing a community of users who update traffic, detours and more — all in real time. Most useful for travelers to other countries — especially Costa Rica and parts of Central America — is the community map editing feature that allows users to add all those little dirt roads and nameless pathways you wouldn’t otherwise know about in foreign countries.
In addition to these five top-notch apps, you’ll also want to load up on a few personal choices before you set out on your next journey. Consider updating your home with smart lights, a security system and a thermostat that you can control from your phone for total peace of mind while you’re away. You should also download your bank’s app so you can track your account and get in touch with your money in case of an emergency. With a bit of forethought and a little time in your favorite app store, your next vacation is sure to be more relaxing than ever.