The Top 10 Must-Have iPod Apps For Travelers and Expats

We all know that having the right tools is critical for success in any endeavor. When you travel or live overseas though, having the right tools becomes essential to completing your daily tasks. While you may be familiar with more traditional resources like guide books and maps, today I’d like to educate you on how to leverage up-and-coming technology to smooth out those rough points in your overseas adventures.

The technology that I’m referencing is Apple’s iPod applications (apps) for the iPhone and iPod Touch. These revolutionary tools can do it all if you know how to make proper use of them. But with thousand of applications available to download, the task of finding the right apps can be daunting. That’s why I’ve spent the time and energy researching them all and have consolidated my recommendations into a Top 10 list of Essential Apps for any traveler. Before we start though, a little background on iTunes for those who are not familiar.

Background on iTunes Apps

The applications referenced can be uploaded to any iPod Touch or iPhone. Traditional iPods like the Basic, Nano or Shuffle do not use applications unfortunately. All applications can be downloaded from the iTunes store. iTunes must be installed on your desktop to download the applications. Apps typically range in price from FREE to $4.99, although there are a few I will be suggesting that go as high as $14.99. All transactions are processed via credit card through iTunes and delivered instantly.

The Top 10 List of Essential Apps for Travelers

1. iMetro- $1.99 to upload. This App provides metro maps for 28 cities around the world, ensuring that you don’t need to waste your precious money on taxi fares. The metro maps are scalable, so you can zoom in or out to find your way. There are quite a few metro apps out there, but I like this one best because of the large number of maps that you get for the low cost. Another bonus: The price just fell from $4.99 to $1.99 in June!

2. Sit or Squat- FREE. This user-maintained database identifies free toilets that you can use around the world. To date, over 65,000 toilets have been identified by users. All you need to do is enter the nearest address, city, zip code or intersection and it will pull up a list of the nearest toilets. Note: Please make sure and check out the great reviews and comments for each toilet!

3. Gate Maps- $.99 to upload. This app provides airport terminal layouts for over 30 International Airports. It is an application that runs offline, which means there won’t be any charges for uploading data overseas. Savvy travelers know to check the map of their arrival airport in-flight so that they can speed off to their destination upon landing! There’s nothing better than knowing where you’re going in advance, huh?!

4. Flight Track Pro- $9.99 to upload. This Application integrates with TripIt, saving your flight itineraries to the app. Flight Track Pro then keeps you up-to-date on delays, gate changes, cancellations and more. The offline mode allows you to check your most recent flight details without the use of wifi. A bit spendy for an app, but just think of the headaches it could save you! Well worth it, in my book…

5. Packing Pro- $3.99 to upload. This handy packing check-list will make sure that you don’t end up in the Caribbean without a swimsuit! Create your own list from scratch or work from one of several custom templates.

6. Spend- $.99 to upload. Love, love, love this app! It absolutely solves the problem of how to keep track of all the daily cash transactions that occur on vacation or in everyday life overseas. Now you have a top-notch tool not only for accounting but for budgeting as well!

7. WifiTrak- $.99 to upload. This handy app locates free wifi signals nearby. Perfect for the traveler on the move!

8. HiConverter- $.99 to upload. This fantastic conversion tool incorporates all the usual bells and whistles such as temperature, currency exchange rates, distance, etc. It also includes the features of the popular App Tipulater which allows you to calculate the tip on a bill. Oh wait, did I mention that it also includes a few surprises like Clothing and Shoe size conversions? Pretty great, huh?!

9. Lingolook Flashcards- $4.99 to upload. These fabulous flashcards list 500 translations of the most common words travelers need to know to get around, all in an easy-to-use flashcard format (100 actual cards). Bonus: 300 of the translations come with an audio clip from a native speaker to help you perfect the pronunciation! The cards are available in 7 languages: Spanish, Italian, French, Japanese, Chinese, Hindi and German. The hands-down best part of this app is that it lives in the phone and requires no data transmissions overseas (saving you BIG MONEY)!

10. Lonely Planet City Guides- $14.99 to upload. Just in case you don’t feel like lugging the big guide book anymore, feel free to download a Lonely Planet CityGuide instead! For $14.99 you can access 1 of 20 major cities. Designed as a stand-alone application, this program does not require a data download, saving you roaming charges. It is GPS-enabled though so you can find your location on the application’s city maps. Amazing what innovation can do, huh?

Portable Travel Buddies You Can’t Live Without

I have things I usually bring with me that I can’t live without. I’ve been a fan of new technologies, and everything is constantly improving. The scientists invent these gadgets to make our lives so much easier. They make everything in smaller package but with all the necessary features that a person might need. It all depends on every individual needs.

Now we can even fit everything in a bag – from a telephone to a mobile phone, a radio to an mp3 player, and analog camera into digital camera. I, myself can’t live without certain things in my bag. I always see to it that I have everything available when I need it. Here are some of the gadgets I always have with me. I call them my “travel buddies”.

Ø Credit Card and ATM Card

I find that bringing ATM and Credit cards much safer than bringing a big amount of money with you. Credit card is very convenient to use and it is very accessible when ever we need it. You can use your major credit cards to shop anywhere in the world. It also provides an easier way to track your expenses.

Ø Cellular Phone

I just bought this amazing phone, the Sony Ericsson K850i cyber shot; it is a true digital still camera with a 5-mega pixel power. What amazes me most about this phone is the automatic lens cover, with auto-focus so you don’t have to worry about the sharpness of the picture, and it also has xenon flash for poor lighting conditions. You can even print the pictures directly from the phone, no need to transfer it to your computer. I just plug it in any printer and pick the picture to be printed and BOOM!, I have my picture printed. You can even have a quick and easy access to the internet. With my new phone I am able to do video calls, audio and video streaming, internet surfing, and email on the go, who could even ask for more? I don’t even have to bring my laptop with me, making my life much easier.

Also watch out for these phones, Sony Ericsson C702, Samsung Soul U900, Nokia N96, Giga-byte MS820, and Android OS SDK. Let me give you a bit of information about these phones. Maybe one of these phones would be compatible to you.

o Sony Ericsson C702

This phone has face focus function. The C702 will automatically detect and focus on the face when the view finder detects it. With this feature, you don’t have to worry that you not being in the picture. It also has a built-in A-GPS which guides you to your destination. It actually leads you to where ever you want to go. Hmm, maybe I should get one too, so I won’t get lost when I travel. Instead of asking around where to find a certain place, I’ll be able to track it myself – pretty clever!

o Samsung Soul U900

Same as Sony Ericsson C702, this 5 mega-pixel camera phone also has a face detection function. You can enjoy super-fast internet access with its 7.2 Mbps High Speed Downlink Packet Access browser. This phone is perfect for people who love to listen to music because of its music library navigation feature and a digital power amplifier. The digital power amplifier actually uses special switching circuits that will minimize the voltage that is dropped in the output semiconductor devices, giving you a higher efficiency.

o Nokia N96

This Nokia phone has a built in DVB-H receiver for digital TV signals in Europe and Asia, and a kickstand for desktop viewing. It is truly an optimized TV and video phone.

o Giga-byte MS820

It is a 3.5G smartphone at 3GSM, and it has a TV and a GPS feature. The motion-sensing G-sensor and UI feature manages the phone’s activity which is based on your activity.

Ø Digital Camera

Not that I don’t enjoy the camera feature on my phone but of course to take a better picture, one has to own a digital camera. Since I travel a lot, I take lots of pictures as souvenirs. I have the newest edition of Casio’s EXILIM, the EX-V7, which is best for travelers like me. Because it is very slim and exceptionally portable, has a very powerful zoom lens and it’s also great looking too. With those features, it’s so easy for me take quality pictures anywhere without any hassle. This 7 mega-pixel digital camera has the four blur reduction technology of Casio that mechanically compensates for any camera shake. Then automatically analyzes the velocity and vector of a moving object setting the appropriate ISO sensitivity and a faster shutter speed. What actually eliminates the blur is the electronic camera shake compensation function. These features are actually great for me since I like to capture beautiful scenery even when I am in a moving vehicle.

Ø Play Station Portable

The newest version of PSP was made to be slimmer and lighter making it much easier to bring. You can have access to your games anywhere you are, as well as an internet browser, and you can also store videos.

The fact that I love video games, PSP gives me the option of getting to bring my favorite games while I’m on the go. And since I get bored easily, if I’m not listening to music, I’m most certainly playing my game.

Ø iPod

This was actually designed for music lovers like me at first. Then after awhile many variations of iPod came out. There is the iPod classic, the high-end touch screen iPod touch, iPod Nano, the screenless iPod shuffle, and the iPod mini.

I personally have the 32-gig iPod touch; I preferred this one because of its great features. It is Wi-fi capable with Safari and Apple browsers. This is the first iPod generation to have wireless access to iTunes Store. It can even detect the last 10 songs that were played in Starbucks café within the vicinity. Pretty cool!

Since I am a music lover and all, it is great for me. I don’t just get to listen to my favorite songs; I can also watch movies and catch up on my favorite TV shows. With my iPod Touch, I need not worry.

How about you? What are the travel buddies you can’t live without?

Stranded Without Travel Insurance – The Ultimate Disaster

So many travellers uncheck the little box when prompted to buy single trip travel insurance when going on a holiday. It’s al very well to opt out of a suggested policy, but you certainly should not opt out all together. Getting a good policy is just as important as buying your plane tickets and getting your hotel bookings done. Many travellers have experienced, at their peril, that it certainly not the thing to leave off your to do list.

Medical

A decent single trip travel insurance policy will cover your medical bills should anything happen to you when you are on your trip. The number of people who need to get admitted to hospital for food poisoning or even more serious medical problems is huge. Medical bills in foreign countries can literally hit the roof, especially when you are travelling in a country where the exchange rate is much higher. Imagine being in somewhere like Kuwait and finding yourself in a hospital with no medical cover? Even if you are traveling in a remote area where medical assistance is not available, will a good policy you will be covered to be airlifted or transported to the nearest hospital.

Personal belongings

A common occurrence on a break away, especially with a young family, is losing personal items. People so often lose their phones, cameras or tablets, but worse still, there is always a threat of a mugging while travelling abroad. A good single trip travel insurance policy will cover you for lost or stolen items. You can travel stress free knowing you’ll get a replacement or reimbursed for any personal items lost or stolen.
Luggage gone AWOL

Have you ever experienced the case of arriving at your dream destination only to find your luggage is at some completely other destination? This can be a very frustrating experience since, naturally, everything you need is in your bag. With an appropriate policy your inconvenience is lessened considerably because you will receive instant cash to buy necessities until your bags are reunited with you. You can buy clothes and personal products to tide you over and still carry on with your holiday fun until the bags arrive.

Emergency situations

Emergencies have a habit of popping up at the wrong time – that’s why they are emergencies! When you’ve organised all your travel arrangements down to a T, the last thing you need is something to crop up where you need to shuffle all your plans around and cancel bookings. Rescheduling and cancellations don’t come free; you may end up forking out money to pay for penalties and cancellation charges. With a single trip travel insurance policy, your insurer can take care of all your rescheduling and cancellations and/or get you back home as soon as possible.