J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, “Not all who wander are lost.”
Today, 6.32 million Americans are living — and wandering — abroad, excluding those in the military. Some move for work, others to explore their options and still others for education — and then never return. Often, the most frequently discussed profession earning Americans gainful employment outside of the United States is teaching English. This is exactly the job of Jacob Putnam, the main character in Caleb Crain’s Necessary Errors, the #MashReads fiction book of November, in Prague.
SEE ALSO: 10 Apps for International Travel
From beers with expat friends and lonely nights at his homestay to language immersion and culture shock, it’s safe to say that though Jacob’s story takes place in the ’90s, he would have greatly benefited from these 10 apps. Whether you are looking to stay in touch with American friends back home or just take out cash from the nearest ATM, these international apps come in multiple languages and offer the best in online and offline functionalities, making the expat lifestyle more about finding yourself than getting lost.
You’ve heard of Skype and WhatsApp, and if you’re a seasoned traveler, you’ve probably tried outViber and Tango, too. After all, the app world isn’t void of free SMS texting options, and often your geographical location determines which app you use.
But HeyWire offers something different: a meme generator. That means you can take a photo of the Eiffel Tower or the Great Wall of China, add a witty caption and send it off to your friends back home — without paying a penny (or whatever currency you’re using). The recipients don’t need the app to view your creation; you just need is their U.S. phone numbers, and can send it directly for free. Apply filters to your memes, attach songs and even tweet them out from text to Twitter with no additional hassle. The app is free on iOS and Android and is available in English, French, Portuguese, simplified Chinese and Spanish.IMAGE: HEYWIRE
Eliminate the need to print, sign and mail or fax any official paperwork. DocuSign Ink lets you fill out, sign and date any documents from any spot with a Wi-Fi connection. The app is free on bothiOS and Android and allows you to sign contracts, invoices, insurance forms and rental agreements — no need for a printer or a stamp. Just create a signature in the app, which offers multiple fonts and colors choices, and it will guide you through all areas to check mark, initial, sign or date. Documents can import to DocuSign directly from your email and save all completed documents in your Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote Box, Egnyte or Salesforce account for easy future access.IMAGE: DOCUSIGN
Finding your a public restroom in an unfamiliar city can be seriously stressful. It’s easy enough to stop in a Parisian cafe for a quick espresso that will buy your way into the bathroom, or some ceviche down in Ecuador — but what if you’re not so lucky? Cue SitOrSquat, the crowdsourced public restroom finder app that will show you public restroom options and ratings in your geographic area. For now, the app works best in major metropolitan cities, but the results will improve as more expats use them.IMAGE: SITORSQUAT
AroundMe takes on the daunting task of finding a good nearby restaurant, movie theater and ATM location all in one fell swoop (close down each of the separate apps that were doing that for you). The app is free on iOS and Android, and is available is almost any language including English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, traditional and simplified Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish.IMAGE: AROUNDME
5. XE Currency
XE Currency allows you monitor up to 10 different currencies and calculates prices using an in-app currency converter. You can simply shake your phone to reset and reveal the current exchange rates (in Internet-free zones). The app also provides a minute-by-minute update of global stock markets. XE Currency is free on iOS and Android.IMAGE: XE CURRENCY
6. Wi-Fi Finder
Never search the streets longingly for a coffee shop with Wi-Fi again. The Wi-Fi Finder, which alerts you to more than 650,000 locations with Wi-Fi in 144 countries, uses a GPS function to find the closest availability. It also informs you whether or not the Wi-Fi is free or not and provides the quickest directions to that location, after filtering by location types like cafe or hotel. You can also download all Wi-Fi locations for your city for reference later on, when you may be offline. The free download is available on iOS and Android devices.IMAGE: WI-FI FINDER
You will undoubtedly need a doctor during your stay in a foreign country, and you can’t always rely on smiling ads on buses and park benches around town. This is where Doctoralia comes in. It’s a global platform for making doctors’ appointments that works in 21 countries. Each doctor on the platform has an associated phone number, location and starred review to help you make the most informed choice. The app is available on iOS and Android.IMAGE: DOCTORALIA
Smart Traveler, created by the U.S. Department of State, is a necessary and free app that helps you out during international emergencies by sending travel alerts and warnings, vaccination information and details on the embassy. The app works on iOS and Android, and offers non-emergency functionality, like the ability to create an itinerary and “Know Before You Go” information about a specific destination, including road and public transit maps.IMAGE: SMART TRAVELER APP
The app translation market is saturated with many reliable options, and one we particularly like is iTranslate. The app translates more than 70 languages, provides extensive translation dictionaries and translates from text-to-speech and vice versa. It also romanizes characters in Chinese, Hindi, Russian, Thai, Korean and Greek. Another helpful feature offered is translating your emails, texts or tweets before hitting send. The app is free for iOS and Android.Tracey Wallace
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