Top 7 Communication Apps When You Are Travelling

Has the travel bug bitten you yet? Along with your passport and money, you need these 7 new-age travel tools — apps to stay safe, savour local culture and keep in touch with loved ones back home.

By Sarika Chuni

Top 7 Communication Apps When You Are Travelling
Communication apps are very useful when travelling
“Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.” – The Dalai Lama

Today, the world has become a much smaller place than before. Literally! If you are having breakfast in Paris, then lunch at Amsterdam no longer seems impossible.

Gone are the days when a family vacation or a solo trip meant travelling to the nearest wildlife sanctuary or posing in front of a famous monument like the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Travelling to exotic places is catching up…

Priyanka, a 35-year-old banking professional in Delhi, recently returned from her first solo trip to Vietnam in January this year. 

“I always wanted to travel alone, backpack across a country and experience it more organically. Even though I was initially nervous, having my smartphone with me was a great help. It was my constant guide and companion through this trip.”

Knowing that she was going to a foreign country and that communicating, both within the country and back home, was essential, Priyanka researched and installed apps to stay connected with family back home. The apps also helped her better interact with the new friends she made during her trip.

So yes, communication apps help. A lot!

Why foreign travel has gone up

There are many reasons why travelling abroad is so easy today. Increasing incomes, changes in spending attitudes, low airfares, group package tours and easy availability of Equated Monthly Instalment (EMI) options have led to many Indians being bitten by the international travel bug.

The tremendous growth in smartphone ownership has only fuelled this phenomenon. After all, apps including communication ones, require smartphones to run. And there are myriad useful apps available — from helping you budget your trip, navigate the alien streets of a foreign country to finding suitable accommodation or transport options, there are some great appsthat are must-haves for international travel. 

What's more, some apps even allow users to message without using cellular data or Wi-Fi. Hence, they can save your time, money and give you a renewed sense of confidence in a foreign land.

7 great communication apps to use while travelling abroad

1. WhatsApp: One of the must-have apps today. Dependable and easy to use, WhatsApp is available in over 180 countries for free through its app store. It works on a Wi-Fi connection, easily accessed through safe public Wi-Fi access points such as airports, coffee shops and malls. This means the app provides safety and security through encrypted chat. No third party can sneakily read or listen in on your chat, audio or video calls.

Availability: Android and Apple iOS

In case you are traveling to South Korea and its neighbouring countries, Kakao is a WhatsApp alternative popular in the region that you must have on your phone to communicate with the locals.

2. FireChat: FireChat is a free peer-to-peer messaging app that works with or without Internet access or cellular data to send text and images. A great tool to communicate with the locals, you can create groups of up to 50 people. It works by using the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi radios in your phone to communicate directly with other devices within 200 feet that also have FireChat. It is an essential app and will be useful if you're stranded or stuck in a situation and require help or guidance.

Availability: Android and Apple iOS

3. Skype: No matter how wonderful your trip is, nothing replaces the joy of seeing the smiling faces of your loved ones over a video call or interacting with them through a call or message! Even though Skype is used as a video or phone app, it is also great for messaging. You can use it to stay in touch no matter the distance. All you need is a Wi-Fi connection and you are all set to share the beautiful moments with loved ones back home. The group video chat feature makes it easy to connect with up to 25 people at once.

Availability: Android and Apple iOS

4. Viber: Viber is an app like WhatsApp and allows you to message and call for free with other Viber users through a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection. However, it also allows you to message people who are not on Viber. This is extremely useful to contact individuals who are not that app-savvy and might not necessarily have a messaging app on their phones.

Availability: Android and Apple iOS

5. Google Translate: With over 500 million users, the cool and dynamic features of Google Translate make it a must-have in the app arsenal of any travel junkie. Available for free download, users can insert text in one language and receive the immediate translation in another. Another option is that you can speak directly into the microphone for instant translation. This allows you to engage in a real-time conversation with a native speaker. It is like having an interpreter on hand! What's more, the app is able to translate the text found in images using your smartphone camera. The cherry on top is that you save on exorbitant roaming charges — it allows you to access up to 59 languages offline.

Availability: Android and Apple iOS

6. TripLingo: The basic version of TripLingo is available for free on your app store. It enables users to learn basic phrases and essential vocabulary while traveling abroad. The app also comes with a voice translator in 19 different languages and also gives users an offline dictionary.

TripLingo is especially handy in critical situations such as attaining emergency information for your destination, currency conversion, tip calculation and also, key aspects of social and local etiquette. A premium subscription offers access to a live human translator too! Isn’t that interesting?

Availability: Android and Apple iOS

7. Waygo: Gone are the days of feeling alienated because you cannot understand roadside signs or read restaurant menus. Free for a limited version and offering in-app purchases, Waygo is really the way to go for a trip to Asia. This app is meant to decipher scripts in Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages that you simply won’t be able to figure out. You simply place your smartphone over the indecipherable script and read the translation done by the app! It's that easy to use. 

Restaurant menus and signage points are now easy to read with this useful tool and pronunciation is simple too. Best of all, this app is available for offline use.

Availability: Android and Apple iOS

Whether you own an Android or an iPhone, these seven communication apps will make your travel experience a whole lot easier and safer. Your smartphone, loaded with these apps, will not only help you stay in touch with loved ones back home, but also, enable you to get help if some difficulty arises. Wishing you h'appy' travels!

Also read: Best English Learning Apps For Kids

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