For some students, the most exciting opportunities in higher education happen when they get a chance to travel — oftentimes without their parents for once! Whether visiting an old friend in Maryland, participating in a study abroad program, getting some research done, or “finding themselves” during breaks, even the most seasoned of adventurers need a little help along the way. Enter smartphones. They are amazing, and students in possession of one might want to download some of the following apps to make the trip flow as pleasantly as possible.
- Google Maps: Available on both the iPhone and the Android — though obviously a little more fancy on the latter — the ubiquitous map tool makes it (comparatively) easy to find your way around an unfamiliar city in Arizona or Wisconsin or anywhere – especially when driving, walking, or taking public transportation.
- TripIt: This one-stop shop for flights, hotels, rentals, reservations, and itineraries should be considered an essential download for all travelers, not just students!
- Flight Track: Globetrotters either pay up or download the free version of the Flight Track app for … um … tracking flights around the world, with “more than 3,000 airports and 1,400 airlines” represented.
- SayHi: Unfortunately only available for iDevices, SayHi still exists as the best translation application around. Just speak a phrase in and hear it correctly pronounced in a second language! Other smartphones still enjoy access to translation tools, mostly revolving around specific tongues, so students will have to seek out the ones corresponding to the countries they visit. Google Translate works quite well, too!!
- XE Currency: Students traveling to countries with different money should check ahead of time and see how much they can expect to spend.
- AroundMe: Search for nearby restaurants, shops, attractions, banks, gas stations, and more with the AroundMe local app that is at once a navigator and a city guide.
- MetrO: Public transportation can baffle even the most savvy traveler, and that’s where this handy-dandy app mapping out systems around the world shines like a pretty l’il star.
- Skype Mobile: Stay in touch with loved ones stationed almost anywhere — whether in North Carolina or in Afghanistan — nausing this free VOIP service, though some charges may apply for switching that phone on in the first place.
- Hotel Tonight: Booking a hotel or hostel before leaving is obviously the best, most prudent idea, but in the event of an emergency (ever been stuck in New Mexico?), this app enables last-minute reservations at pretty swanky spots. With more on the way, of course.
- HearPlanet: HearPlanet for Android and iPhone touts itself as “the world’s largest audio guide,” with detailed walkthroughs and information about popular tourist destinations and amazing local spots the locals just love alike.
- Google Sky Map: Android users with their heads in the clouds love this augmented reality app that lets them identify the different astronomical phenomena currently overhead.
- Project Noah: Photograph local flora and fauna and post up the results either with or without identification (then the community will hop in and help!) and learn more about the planet’s wondrous biosphere. Very helpful if you’re camping in states like Nevada or exploring a park in a rural town.
- Goodreads: Keep up with reading lists for school and work alike through this bibliophiliac social networking site perfect for chipping away at books during long flights and train trips. Available on more platforms than the Android!
- TED: Beloved open source lecture series TED is available on most smartphone platforms to entertain and educate students with 20 minutes or so to squish through.
- Pulse: Pulse allows users to compile all their favorite blogs and websites into one resource for quick and easy reading on multiple services.
- NPR Mobile: If reading or watching short videos just doesn’t sound like a great way to make it through that transoceanic flight, try listening to NPR’s always riveting podcasts, news, and music and game shows.
- Instagram: Because Photoshop for Smartphone is probably a long way off (and would probably cost the same as a black market kidney), the free Instagram makes it fun and easy to snap memorable photos and run them through filters. Or leave the ones that look great on their own alone.
- Pandora: With a web connection, Pandora connects subscribers (free service!) and their custom radio stations to keep them entertained or focused on homework.
- Netflix: Netflix users with an Android or iPhone device can use the official app to connect with their queues and pass the time catching up on their movies and television shows.
- Amazon Kindle: Download ebooks of all genres and prices and read them directly from most smartphone platforms through Amazon Kindle’s official app.
Making Good Choices
- Allergy Eats: For students with strict food allergies, this smartphone and online app helps them find nearby restaurants with dishes and protocols ensuring their needs get met.
- Yelp: Read crowdsourced reviews from locals and travelers alike, covering everything from old standby greasy spoons to the hottest clubs, before deciding what to do and where to go.
- Foursquare: Look up nearby special deals and hopefully save some money along the way with this crazy popular check-in game.
- TripAdvisor: Trip Advisor proves essential when searching for the best possible bargains on flights, hotels, rental cars, and more, whether in advance or on the fly. User-submitted reviews facilitate the decision-making process.
- Restaurant Nutrition: Android and iPhone owners hoping to make prudent choices about what food they eat while adventuring should tote around the Restaurant Nutrition app to keep them as healthy as they can feel.
- Gas Guru: Presented by Yellow Pages, Gas Guru shows the lowest fuel prices in the immediate vicinity, making it essential for cash-strapped students who need to rent cars or those who live in states with sky- high gasoline prices such as Michigan and Connecticut.
- Weather Channel: Before heading out for crazy adventures, it might be a great idea to check the weather beforehand to make sure plans don’t need serious a-changin’, especially if you’re traveling to somewhere tropical- like Hawaii.
- DrunkGuard: With a drunk text blocker, BAC calculator, cab calling, sobriety games, and other features, DrunkGuard makes sure a night out while traveling doesn’t veer off into horror movie territory.
- Shop Savvy: Shop Savvy sports a QR code reader and barcode scanner for comparison pricing, so students wanting to buy food, necessities, and souvenirs know where to patronize for the best deals.
- Wikihood: It connects to Wikipedia and offers up its own encyclopedic set of information about the culture, attractions, food, and other vital facts about a given destination.
Organizing, Productivity, and Reference
- Dropbox: Access whatever files classes might require – so long as the connected devices remain enabled, of course – through one of the most popular and embraced organization and productivity apps of all time.
- Wi-Fi Finder: Like the title says, this app reveals the locations of wi-fi hotspots in the immediate vicinity for students needing the Internet to get work (or communications with home) done.
- Evernote: Whether completing class assignments or creating a scrapbook to remember travels, Evernote’s ability to save and share important files and links makes it happen.
- Dictionary.com Mobile: With full access to a dictionary and a thesaurus, students getting homework done on the go never have to worry about picking the wrong word and checking everything later!
- Wolfram Alpha: One of the most comprehensive encyclopedia-slash-search-engines ever provides a suite of apps perfect for learners from most disciplines. Despite the cost, it’s well worth keeping around!
- Mental Case: Right now, Mental Case is only available for iDevices, unfortunately. But Apple devotees should check it out when creating, organizing, and sharing flash cards to help them study.
- Mint: Unless a student hails from the 1%, chances are they’ll need to keep an eye on their personal finances and budgets both at home and while traveling! Mint makes it happen and doesn’t cost them anything at all.
- Amazon Student: iDevice- and Android-owning students enjoy free two-day shipping for six months, barcode scanning, price comparisons, trade-ins, and other perks perfect for buying and selling textbooks and other classroom materials.
- StudyBlue: Another excellent app featuring customized multimedia flash cards, this time available on Androids as well as anything running iOS.
- Trello: For collaborative efforts, try organizing everyone’s tasks, group goals, and more using Trello. Although the free service works best if all parties possess either an Android or an iOS-enabled device.
- SaferBus: When traveling in the United States and hoping to catch a bus, use this offering by the U.S. Department of Transportation to make sure the ones on the road do not present risky violations. SaferBus also allows travelers to report any safety issues they personally encounter or witness.
- Hollaback: Learn about which neighborhoods in which global cities present the highest risk for sexual assault (verbal and physical) and even file stories and photos regarding any firsthand incidents.
- American Red Cross First Aid: Keep this essential app (and maybe some supplies!) on hand in the event of an emergency requiring first-level medical intervention. Always make sure to call an ambulance if things get serious, though! All smartphones enjoy access to emergency alert and flashlight apps, too, so make sure to pick up the best-reviewed one corresponding to operating system needs!!
- Street Safe: StreetSafe requires a subscription, but students who travel and frequently find themselves walking alone might think it a worthwhile investment. The application connects them with a live operator, who talks to them about how to best remain alert and tracks their movements with GPS in the event of an emergency necessitating a 911 call.
- EveryBlock: Only available on the iPhone for now, EveryBlock covers most major American cities and reports back updated police, fire, and ambulance activity after inputting a zip code. It also posts up user-submitted photos and reviews of local businesses and sights.
- FlyRights: If the Transportation Security Administration or Department of Homeland Security violate any of the flyer’s rights through discriminatory, harassing, or profiling practices, users can submit formal complaints through this app.
- Circle of Six: iPhone owners looking for peace of mind while traversing unfamiliar – or unsafe – territory or out with new friends can list up to six specially-selected contacts to alert the authorities of any possible dangers before violence occurs.
- cab4me: Even some of the most responsible drinkers out there occasionally overdo it, and they can keep their winning streak going by hailing them (and their loved ones) a cab instead of strapping in behind the wheel.
- bSafe: For Android, Blackberry, and iPhone fans, bSafe offers up alarms, silent alarms, emergency contact alerts, and other features meant to prevent or address potentially life-threatening issues – and all with GPS tracking for the fastest possible response.
- WebMD: Hypochondria isn’t exactly fun times, but WebMD’s symptom checker and first aid certainly help out quite a bit when getting sick or hurt away from homey comforts.