This post is from our official student blogger, Sarah Nichols. Sarah is a Senior Economics (Accounting) and French major from the University of Alaska-Anchorage. She is currently spending the academic year in Grenoble, France.
Note from API: When planning travel once abroad don’t forget about the incredible in person resource that is your on-site staff for recommendations on transportation, lodging, and general travel!
You know the saying “there’s an app for that”, well it’s true. There is pretty much an app for everything. Living in a time where smartphones are seen as necessity can be both a good and bad thing. You don’t want to spend your study abroad scrolling through your Facebook and Instagram feeds all day. But the good part about having a smartphone handy is that it is a trip-planning lifesaver.
Phones have made the travel part of study-abroad so easy, I don’t know how people did it before. It’s amazing that I can look at my phone to find out exactly how to get somewhere, book a hostel, find somewhere to eat and translate words from another language in a matter of minutes. With so many different apps out there it can be hard to figure out what ones work best which is why I made this list. I’m sure there are other apps that are also helpful to have but these are the apps that I use the most and think that every study abroad student should have.
Just put in where you are and where you’d like to go and Rome2Rio will show you every way you can get there. It will show you train, walking, car and bus schedules. I like it because it will also give you a minimum and maximum price for each option so that you can choose the best way to get there.
- Google Maps
I use this app the most out of any of them. It has saved me so many times from getting lost. I like it because I can get directions and it will tell me how to get from point A to point B by walking, driving, or buses. It will tell you exactly what buses/trams/trains to take and at what time they leave. Google Maps has saved my life so many times, You NEED to have this app!
- Google Translate
I think that this one is pretty self-explanatory. But remember that not everything is a direct translation when you switch to another language.
Even if you only use Uber in big cities that you’re visiting, it’s nice to have it downloaded on your phone if you ever need it.
Keeping track of who owes who money for what, when traveling with a group, can be confusing that’s why you need this app. Your friends can easily pay you back right away.
City Maps is great because you can download maps and use it while you’re offline. Another feature that makes this app appealing is that it will show you how to get to destinations similar to how google maps works but CityMaps will give you estimates of how much it will cost with each method.
Now that you have the travel bug you are going to want to travel anywhere and everywhere. Skyscanner is the best app to use. The option I like the most is that you can pick the airport you want to leave out of and for the destination you can select “flexible” and it will give you a list of the cheapest places to fly. So if you don’t know where to go for the weekend this is a great resource to use.
I like Skiplagged because at the top of the page after you search for flights it gives you a graph of what prices look like during the year. This way you can easily find when it is the cheapest to fly somewhere and whether tickets are priced high, normal, or low.
Since you’re a college student you most likely won’t want to spend a lot of money on lodging if you don’t have to which is why you need this app. Hostel World will show you all available hostels in your destination city, it also has a rating system and you can read reviews from people that have stayed there. Hostels are a great place for students to stay because it’s easy to meet people.
Airbnb is another app that you need on your phone. If you have a big group of people it’s better to rent an entire place instead of staying at a hostel. You can also rent just a single room, sometimes it’s cheaper than a hostel so it’s good to look between the two.