Need to find your way around the city, translate the language or rest easy? Here’s what you’ll experience in Prague with 17 apps and gadgets.
Disclosure: This page contains one link to an online retailer. When readers click on this link to buy the gadget, this site earns a commission. The commissions, if any, will reduce the cost students pay to enroll in this study abroad program. The apps, free or paid, do not draw a commission for this site.
Expensify: FREE, use.expensify.com
Expensify promises to take the hassle out of creating expense reports while traveling. Founded in 2008 and aimed primarily at business travelers, Expensify makes recording expenditures easier while also saving them to one convenient location on your smartphone or computer. Through SmartScan technology, receipts can be photographed and saved to the app. The information is then automatically converted to an expense report. Expenses can also be added manually. Expensify optionally records time and distance traveled. Expensify accounts can be connected by a single administrator and expense reports can then be approved and viewed from user to user, making it more comprehensive than other apps in the same category. The free version has limitations — you only get 15 free receipt scans a month. More than 15 per month costs you money. Some users have complained there are not enough categories for expenditures in the manual entry mode. To purchase a version with unlimited scans, you must be part of a business — the version with unlimited scans can not be purchased for personal use. Expensify is available in both the iTunes App Store for both iPhone and iPad, the Android Marketplace, Google Play, Windows Phone and the Blackberry App World.
— Lauren Taylor
Facebook Messenger: FREE, facebook.com/mobile/messenger
Talking with friends and family is a must-do for students away from home for an extended amount of time. Facebook is the universal platform for posting, tagging and documenting travels abroad, and the messenger app through Facebook simplifies the task of simple communication when WiFi is not robust enough for global video conversations. The Messenger app allows users to engage in communication through Facebook chat and a variety of other message options. Voice, video and text messaging are available on the app. Voice messaging allows the user to hear loved ones without glitches that were present in the Facebook video chat and Skype apps. The video chat via Facebook is still not as efficient as Skype. You’ll need WiFi, but the voice messaging can log more than a minute of you telling the family about your day.
— Andrew James
Field Trip: FREE, fieldtripper.com
Field Trip is a free app downloadable on your Android or Apple smart device that promises to be “your guide to the cool, hidden and unique things in the world around you.” Available in more than 30 languages, Field Trip aims to teach users the history about nearby sites and expose travelers to hidden gems and overlooked venues by curating information from various publications that have previously completed reviews of the featured spots. Users can select specific interests from categories such as architecture, lifestyle, historic places and events, art and museums and foods, drinks and fun as well as the outlets from which they wish to receive information about venues that fall under those categories. Users can choose to have notifications from Field Trip sent to them frequently, occasionally or never and whether to have notifications spoken to them. Though users can receive step-by-step walking or driving directions to a location, the app requires phone data or WiFi to connect. If you’re an international traveller without WiFi and choose to keep your device on airplane mode or a data-saving mode, your feed of venues will not refresh, making it difficult for those out and about to efficiently locate the featured spots. Thus, the app is most advantageous when used within the United States.
— Brianna Chambers
Gogobot: FREE, gogobot.com
Gogobot is the go-to app for finding places to go, stay and eat for every destination. Updated in May 2014, Gogobot allows you to plan your trip by providing forecasts, maps and pricing with all of the listed attractions. While using Gogobot, you can see what locations are trending in the city of your choice and filter searches with categories such as “adventure” and “local.” Each recommendation provides a percent related to those categories. Though some of the recommended restaurants and attractions are the typical tourist stops, you can find more low-key and local areas by scrolling down the list. Each recommended spot provides an address and link to Google Maps for directions. In the future, it would be helpful for this app to provide access for users who are not in a WiFi spot, even if it must come with a paid version.
— Danimarie Roselle
Google Translate: FREE, translate.google.com
The Google Translate application is the best translator for you to use on your trip abroad. The app was last updated in March 2014 and offers translations for 80 different languages, including Czech. The app has three different tools for translating words — writing them out with a keyboard, physically writing them with your finger and saying the word aloud. From my use it had 100 percent accuracy with the voice and scribble feature. You can save words by clicking a “favorite” option on one of the sidebars. You can also easily delete your search history. One way the app could be better is if it worked in areas with no WiFi, particularly when users are trying to translate words at train or bus stations that are outside of WiFi areas.
— Rachel Brannon
HistoryPin: FREE, historypin.com/app
HistoryPin is a form of social media that aims to link generations by adding photos, videos and audio “pins” to a virtual world map. The app and website offer users the opportunity to view pins from others and add their own. There is even a “tours” option in which users can flip through series of pins related to noteworthy events. Newer features include the ability to layer an older photo over a real-time view of the location. Videos and audio are rare, but there do seem to be plenty of pictures, mainly in Western nations. Unfortunately, all features of the app require WiFi, and the newest features are difficult to use. Overall, the free app probably isn’t worth the download time unless you’re fine with international roaming fees and stock photos you could find in a web search. The website is good for a few minutes of exploration.
— Melanie Chandler
Inflatable Neck Pillow: $4, amazon.com/Travelpro-Inflatable-Neck-Pillow/dp/B001HBEE7G
The Inflatable Neck Pillow is great for planes, trains and automobiles as it offers incredible neck support. Compared with a regular travel pillow, the Inflatable Neck Pillow is compact, lightweight and easily inflated with about two breaths. It comfortably encases your neck and provides optimal stability. When traveling by plane, do not inflate before taking off. Your pillow will become overinflated and may pop. Offered in a variety of colors, the soft corduroy material of the pillow provides optimum comfort. Relatively inexpensive, you can purchase an Inflatable Neck Pillow online or pick one up at retailers.
— Kaitlin Kent
Jetlag Genie: $2.99, jetlaggenieapp.com
Arriving in a new country is thrilling, so you don’t want jetlag to keep you from the adventures that await. Jetlag Genie promises to adjust your sleep schedule in the week or so leading up to your trip so you avoid jetlag on arrival. It offers an option to add the use of melatonin to make falling asleep even easier. But is avoiding jetlag worth the week or so of drastic and bizarre changes to your lifestyle? Jetlag Genie’s suggested changes in the sleep schedule are far too extreme for anyone with a schedule to follow. For example, it suggested I go to bed at 5:30 p.m. on a Wednesday. Save your $2.99 and instead research tips to avoid jetlag for free online. Or you can always do what I do — take a NyQuil on the flight, suck it up, and get out and explore when you land.
— Meg Mitchell
MapMyRun: FREE, mapmyrun.com/app
The MapMyRun app is essential for any runner, jogger or walker of any ability level. The app launched in 2007 and claims to be “the best running app out there.” This claim is supported by the app’s ability to track distance, speed, pace, elevation and calories burned for each running workout, all while playing music and utilizing voice alerts at every mile marker. This app is ideal for travelers who are searching for nearby places to run because it operates through a GPS service that tracks workouts without requiring WiFi. The interface is easy to use and glitch-free. MapMyRun can be downloaded at no cost from the app store and requires an account to connect with the online-operable service. Basic accounts are free, but premium accounts require the user to pay an annual fee $29.99, or $5.99 per month, for audio coaching, heart rate analysis and interval training workouts. MapMyRun won a Reader’s Choice award for “Best Running App” in 2012 and has continued to improve since then.
— Morgan Weeks
Rome2Rio: FREE, rome2rio.com
Rome2Rio is a website and mobile app thapromise travelers the ability to determine how to get anywhere from anywhere. Whether you want to go to the doctor’s office across town or venture to Tokyo, this app will get you there in the most efficient way possible. The app maps out every possible route by train, plane, car, bus or boat, along with the prices and time schedules of each. It also offers walking directions if your prefer to take the voyage by foot. For more specific results, plug in the dates of your trip and Rome2Rio will show exact the prices and timetables of airlines and trains with direct links to buy tickets. The app is offered in eight languages and a long list of currencies so the user does not have to worry about converting exchange rates. The only issue with the site is that sometimes it is not 100 percent accurate, but this is a rare occurrence. Also, WiFi is necessary for the mobile app, so it is hard to use in rural places. The bad news — the mobile app is only available on the iPhone.
— Katy Roberts
Stay.com: FREE, stay.com/mobile
When you’ve traveled all the way to a beautiful city in a foreign country, it’s nice to have a pocket guide that can lead you to all the places you want to go. By downloading the “Stay.com (City Guides, Offline Maps)” app for free, available on iOS or Android, you are able to search for any city you wish to visit and download the guide to your city. The guide must be downloaded when there is a data or WiFi connection, but once it is downloaded, you are free to roam the city with your guide with no extra data charges. Options include browsing the guide, looking at user suggestions, using the search bar for a specific spot and even creating your own guide to the city. If you choose to make your own personal guide for the city, you can then share it with your friends on different forms of social media. This app is user-friendly and easy to figure out within five minutes. The only problem that users may run into is if they’ve found a place they wish to visit and want step-by-step directions when there is no data or WiFi connection. However, the guide does drop a pin at the desired destination so you can see the streets and landmarks in the surrounding area.
— Ann Drinkard
Sunscreen: FREE, itunes.apple.com/us/app/sunscreen/id407934973?mt=8
A staple for any health-conscious traveler, but especially those who tend to look like a lobster after brief exposure to the sun, Sunscreen is a priority app to include in any of your travel plans. This app gauges the UVI rating of your location and when combined with your described skin type, it determines how often you should apply sunscreen to be best protected from harmful rays. It is easy to forget the importance of sun protection when dealing with the hectic pace of travel or vacation, but with Sunscreen’s strategic alarms, it will never slip your mind to slather up accordingly. The foolproof instructions make it easy to get the correct formula for your individual experience in order to be best shielded. The free application can be found in the iTunes app store but is not yet available for other operating systems.
— Natalie Adams
Transportist: FREE, itunes.apple.com/us/app/transportist-offline-transit/id644276437?mt=8
The Transportist is an absolute must-have for travelers abroad. Its maps include directions for walking, driving or public transit. The public transit maps even include a timetable of when upcoming metros, trams or buses will be arriving. The maps include many major European travel destinations such as Paris, Berlin and Prague, as well as a few Australian destinations such as Brisbane and Sydney. The user can download these locations while using WiFi or data to use offline. The app can also use your current location while offline to map your progress while heading to the destination with decent accuracy. Unfortunately, there is not a searchable database for categories such as “restaurants” or “parks,” so you must know the exact address of your destination before using the app. An offline searchable database to supplement the app would make it even easier to use and would be worth a $1 upgrade.
— Emily Mitchem
TripAdvisor City Guides: FREE, tripadvisor.com/apps-icityguides
TripAdvisor City Guides is an app for the directionally-challenged, Internet-less traveler. TripAdvisor City Guides is an off shoot of the tried-and-true TripAdvisor iPhone application that allows users to view restaurants, bars and other businesses nearby. However, City Guides expels international cell phone anxiety by providing the same information, in addition to helpful navigation tools, without the use of wireless data or WiFi. When users download the app, they select the city they are traveling to and the corresponding TripAdvisor information is immediately saved on their phone, allowing them to access a virtual guide to the city’s venues whenever they need it. The best part about City Guides is the map function. Users can select a restaurant, find where it is located and navigate to it seamlessly within the app’s infrastructure, all without the use of the Internet. The only drawback with the app is that it consumes a good chunk of memory on your smartphone, but City Guides is an invaluable tool to have when wandering around a confusing foreign city.
— Daniel Funke
Ulmon’s Prague Travel Guide and Offline City Map: FREE, itunes.apple.com/us/app/prague-travel-guide-offline/id332120917?mt=8
Ulmon’s Prague Travel Guide and Offline City Map trumps other offline maps with its array of extra features. Users can zoom in on the map to read street names, search for landmarks and businesses and save locations. These details make it almost impossible to get lost, but even if you do, you can search nearby businesses and easily find where you are on the map. Users can mark locations with color-coded pins. This travel app also offers offline access to descriptions of many popular locations and landmarks. The best part is that all of these features are available for free, and users do not have to create an account to access any of them. Of course, no app is perfect. The travel guide does not have every landmark in its search bank, and some of the landmarks can only be found using their Czech names. In addition, there are a few streets on the map that have incorrect or missing names. An update to this app should allow users to search addresses rather than just names, which would make every location would be possible to find.
— Cara Lynn Clarkson
Viber: FREE, viber.com
Viber is an app that allows a person to contact people around the world. The beauty of the app is that you don’t have to use data — it only requires a WiFi connection. On Viber, you can text or call anyone around the world who has the app as well, connecting through data or WiFi. This allows students who study abroad to stay easily connected with family and friends back home. In Prague, the coverage was almost always flawless while using WiFi. Calls came in clear and texts were easily sent and received. The app even informs you when you are in “excellent, fair or poor” coverage. However, calls may be delayed at times, and it fails to notify you right away when you get a call. Your app will work in correlation with the the strength of the WiFi you are using.
— Ashley Rosenberg
WhatsApp: FREE, whatsapp.com
Travelers want to keep in touch with loved ones left behind. But international data plans are expensive and roaming rates are astronomical. WhatsApp is designed to help. WhatsApp allows you to use WiFi to text, send messages and share videos with people from all over the world no matter the phone carrier. The app does exactly what it says it will do — users can contact anyone who also has the app whenever in an area with WiFi. The only problem is that most people don’t know about it or don’t have WhatsApp, which limits the amount of people you can contact. I would advise anyone traveling to download the application as long as they tell everyone they wish to contact to get the app as well.
— Christina Montford