Most college students have smart phones and those who plan to pursue international study want to be able to use their phones abroad—however global cell phone plans and data and roaming charges are very expensive. Smartphones can be extremely useful even without a cellular signal. Here’s a helpful list of ten very useful apps for study abroad students that will work offline and save you the expense of a global phone plan:
[Download the ScholarshipAdvisor app for finding scholarships on the go.]
Free, electronic guidebook, but so much more! Triposo works offline and helps you decide where to sleep, what to see, what to do. It offers maps, routing, and attraction guides to over 30,000 destinations.
Convert every world currency with the XE Currency App. It offers live proprietary currency rates, charts, and even stores the last updated rates, so it works offline without access to the internet.
Buying a temporary phone while abroad may not be an option for you and could break your budget. So, instead, download the WhatsApp to send texts back home and to friends within the country you are in through WiFi without having to pay for SMS. The app is free, which of course is a huge bonus. WhatsApp Messenger is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia and yes, those phones can all message each other! Because WhatsApp Messenger uses the same internet data plan that you use for email and web browsing, there is no cost to message and stay in touch with your friends.
4. Private Wifi
Although this App is not free, it is well worth the $9.95 per moth service. One of the great things about traveling abroad is all the free WiFi—from airports to coffee shops to train stations, you can find it almost anywhere. The downside? All these unprotected signals can leave your information vulnerable to hackers. Private WiFi runs in the background of your device and makes you invisible online. That means you can use all the free WiFi you want, while protecting your bank details, private emails, and even your Facebook password! Available on Apple, Android, and Windows.
5. Wi-Fi Finder
International data charges can burn a serious hole in your wallet, if you’re not careful. Using Wi-Fi is often your best option when you’re abroad. Wi-Fi finder has a directory of over 280,000 Wi-Fi access points in 140 countries worldwide, so you can always stay connected without getting hit with high roaming data charges.
Heading somewhere where you don’t speak the language? Sure, you can (and should) pick up a phrasebook to get the basics down, but the Google Translate App can help you figure out what’s going on. Translate offline while traveling. No internet connection needed.
Versions available for all devices. ICE lets you enter all of your health information (allergies and conditions, insurance, medications) in one place that can then be shown on demand to anyone that needs it. There’s even a lock-screen option that will display this information to first responders and doctors, even if you aren’t able to.
We see more and more students with food allergies, and we want to be sure students feel safe and in control of their allergies when traveling abroad. The Allergy FT app allows you to create individual profiles with a list of food allergies. It then translates those, with a warning message, into a local language. Show your phone to the waiter and they’ll know which foods you need to stay away from. It currently offers 62 different food allergies in the following categories. Egg Allergies, Fish Allergies, Milk Allergies, Peanut Allergies, Shellfish Allergies, Soy Allergies, Tree Nut Allergies, Wheat Allergies and more. Everything is built into the app so it works offline with no Internet connection required. The downside is the app currently only supports French, German, and Spanish. More languages to come.
Free app that works offline to help you recover from Jet Lag faster. Enter your trip details to get a customized jet lag plan that tells you exactly what to do to reduce jet-lag symptoms.
10. Awesome Note (To-Do/Calendar/Reminder/Memo)
Staying organized is key when it comes to planning for your study abroad program and while you are abroad. You are going to be experiencing Culture Shock, learning how to navigate a new city, learning a new educational system, and trying to explore and see as much as you can. The Awesome Note App will help you stay organized so you can accomplish all of your goals while travelling and studying abroad. Awesome Note is capable of unlimited note-taking, including memos, diaries, must-remember info, to-do lists, travel journals and ongoing projects, and supports a built-in graphical calendar. And of course, the app works offline—no internet connection is needed.
The offline smartphone apps can come in handy while traveling, and also for contacting family and friends back home. However, having a local cellular connection for a long term study abroad program is important, especially in case of an emergency, so I would still recommend students get a local phone number or an inexpensive pay- as-you-go phone.
Kristen Catrina is an advisor in the Explorations/Study Abroad Center at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, Ohio: