Travelling to a new-to-you destination can present more challenges than just how to get there. With potential obstacles like language, currency and whether your taxi is ripping you off, you’re bound to have a bit of thrilling anxiety after stepping off the airplane, out of the train or closing the car door. How you get around these challenges can be key to a great trip.
These tips, matched with apps that can help, will get you moving freely, loving travel and learning something new – all the important benefits of getting out there.
The Challenge: Currency Exchange
What it means: Understanding the currency exchange rates of the country you’re visiting is key. Is that hotel room expensive? Is this souvenir worth it? You’ll find yourself kerfuffled and likely on the losing end of the exchange if you can’t assimilate quickly.
The App: What if you had an app that can translate purchase price into your own currency for comparison? Yes, there’s an app for that! Try XE Currency, which has great ratings and a lot of downloads (55 million +!). I’ve personally used it for years. This app, available for free and for iOS and Android, gives you very precise currency conversions and you can find any currency you can think of in the app. The ease of pulling out your phone and checking what things cost in a reference point you understand will be well worth it.
The Tip: Exchange currency in your home country so that you aren’t scrambling to make the conversion on the spot. Exchange centers abroad will usually charge a fee and may not give you the best rate.
The Challenge: Language Barriers
What it means: A new country, a new way of life, a new language! Avoid asking for directions to the raspberry jam at your destination with translation help.
The App: Take advantage of the magics of technology and download a translation app that can help you to say key phrases. iTranslate is free to download, but requires a subscription. It is available on iOS and Android. With the app, you can simply push a button, speak into your phone and it will translate your phrase into your choice of 90 different languages. Need help understanding someone’s directions? Ask them to speak into your phone and it can translate that phrase into your language for your understanding.
The Tip: Learn key phrases in your destination’s language before you go. Try to acquire the basics, and of course there is an app for that too. Duolingo is one example of a language learning tool that makes it easier to prepare for your travels. This app has a simple layout and a game-like system for teaching you a new language, making it fun and easy to give it all a try.
The Challenge: Getting Around
What it means: A new-to-you destination presents the challenge of mapping out your itinerary and choosing the must-see attractions and must-experience activities. Get help understanding what the best of the best is at your destination, plus helpful maps to get around with.
The app: Guides by Lonely Planet
A natural extension of their work in in-depth print vacation guides, lonely planet now has an app available with that same depth of reliable information. Guides by Lonely Planet gives you a convenient and concentrated version of their print material. Download the guide for your destination and find where to stay and eat, plus places to shop and explore. You can also access maps to help you get around. You can store this information offline too, to avoid roaming charges when you travel. There are over 100 cities covered in the guides.
The Tip: Sometimes the best information about a destination comes from the people who live there, or have been there before. Get recommendations from friends and families, search the internet for locals’ knowledge and where this isn’t enough, experience the benefit of working with a travel agent who can tell you all they know from building itineraries for this destination and likely visiting it themselves.