Four mobile apps to make global travelers feel at home

If you’re flying overseas then getting your smartphone ready for the trip is just as important as remembering to pack toothpaste and underwear. In this episode of IDG App Review, we profile four mobile apps that can come in handy on your next trip abroad.

If you’re traveling to an unfamiliar city, you’ll be lost—quite literally—without a good map application. In the US, I use Google Maps (available for iOS and Android). While Google’s offering will work abroad, you’re going to burn through data, so you may want to consider an offline option. Offline maps work for a large portion of the world with Google’s Maps, and you can download them by hitting the menu button and choosing offline maps. Select the area you want and it will be saved to your device.

And what if there’s no offline map available in Google’s app for where you’re headed? Turn to MapsWithMe Pro, a $5 download for iOS and Android. There’s also a free version, but the paid version enables search among other features.

MapsWithMe Pro for iPhone

When you’re abroad, finding a free Wi-Fi hotspot can sometimes be difficult and entering your credit card info for every pay hotspot can be a pain. Skype WiFi for iOS and Android allows you to connect to a pay hotspot using your Skype credit. Rates vary by hotspot and country, but you can use the app on smartphones, tablets and laptops.

One thing that trips me up when I travel is tipping or gratuities. If you live in or have visited the US you know we tip for just about everything, but that’s not the case in other parts of the world. Tipping Bird for Android will tell you what’s customary in whatever country your visiting for categories including restaurants, bars, taxis, organized tours, and more.

One last piece of travel advice for smartphone-toting globetrotters: Depending on your carrier, you might want to call them and see what the international roaming rates are. For example if I set it up ahead of time, I can get 100 MB of data for $25 dollars, but if I don’t, then I pay $20 dollars a megabyte on Verizon Wireless.

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