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Best Apps For Expats And Digital Nomads: Must-Have Apps For Travelling - William Russell Expat Insurance Blog

37 Best Apps For Expats And Digital Nomads: Must-Have Apps For Travelling

In the digital era, expats can have access to a variety of different mobile applications when it comes to navigating the perks of living and working abroad. Relocating and travelling are now almost impossible without the help of digital apps. The best apps for expats make choosing a top restaurant in a new neighbourhood, finding local entertainment and communicating with friends much easier! Researching exchange rates and saying “thank you” in a foreign language are two of the many ways that your phone has your back in a foreign country.

The rapidly growing number of mobile applications – specifically, apps for life abroad – increases the potential usefulness of your phone while relocating and living abroad. However, with such a large number of applications available for your phone, it can become difficult to find those golden nuggets that will enhance your time abroad. To free up your memory on your phone and save you time, we have compiled a selection of the best apps that every expat should have.

What are the best apps for expats abroad? What are the must-have apps for travelling in 2022?

Experienced and aspiring expats, digital nomads and tourists can no longer imagine being abroad without various mobile applications that simplify their stay in another country.

Some of these apps are able to provide the traveller with a detailed map of the area, translate from one language to another, and also make your trip to another country comfortable. Every expat, digital nomad or traveller should have a number of applications that will allow you to perform a number of tasks: book accommodation, rent a car, buy last-minute tours, select sights to see and see reviews of popular places.

To make your life easier, we have put together a list of the best apps for expats. But first thing first: even before the pandemic, it was not uncommon for unforeseen circumstances to interfere with international travel. In the new realities, flight cancellations and changes in government recommendations have become almost the norm. Two key services, Google Travel and the UK government’s overseas travel advisories are available on mobile, but as websites rather than apps.

Also, if you are travelling, don’t forget your COVID-19 passport. The new rules only apply to those who received both doses of the vaccine at least 14 days before travel. In addition, many popular British destinations, including Spain and Portugal, have similar entry requirements. To prove vaccination status, if you are from the UK, you need to install the NHS app and check if it displays a QR code (NHS COVID Pass).

Looking for some inspiration for your next destination?
Check this list of the most unique destinations around the world

Must-have apps for buying travel tickets

Classic Aviasales and Skyscanner will help you choose from millions of offers, compare ticket prices from different companies for different dates. With Aviasales, you can set the departure direction “worldwide” and choose the ideal option based on the cost of travelling to different destinations on a certain date, rather than clogging a new route several times. The service also offers a price calendar and reports on price changes for the selected flight. Skyscanner has similar functionality. In order to immediately compare prices for a month by country, just use the map. Both services also offer to find a car for rent or book a hotel. There is also Tripit and LiveTrekker which also made it to our list of best apps for expats.

Don’t forget about the mobile boarding pass. It is far from new, but a real must-have in post-COVID travel. With self-service baggage check-in being actively developed at airports, the mobile ticket will help to minimize waiting in line and personal contacts.

Your ticket can be downloaded to Apple Wallet or Android Wallet, or you can download your airline’s app in advance. In favor of the latter option, new features that air carriers add to their applications can play. For example, Virgin Atlantic and Delta are jointly testing the Fly Ready service, while British Airways and American Airlines are testing the Verify service, where you can upload data on COVID-19 tests required for flights between the UK and the USA.

In the event of a delayed or cancelled flight, it is worth having the AirHelp app handy, which simplifies the process of obtaining compensation from the airline. The passenger only needs to enter information about the flight number and the problem. If the issue is successfully resolved, AirHelp takes 25% of the payout, however, the user can receive a referral bonus for other passengers on the same flight.

iPhone owners, and especially those who want to minimize their time in the common lounge, can try LoungeBuddy. If you enter the name of the airport in the application, it will display the available business lounges (including free ones). Then you can choose and book the room you like, pay, and scan the QR code of the reservation at the entrance.

1/ Skyscanner

An application that shows cheap flights to any destination – Europe, America, Africa, Australia. There is a cooperation agreement with low-cost airlines, so a tourist can fly to any country for a reasonable price. Of the useful features, one can single out the possibility of early purchase of tickets for six months or a year in advance and the choice of the optimal price.

The app availability:

Free
Get Skyscanner on iOS
Get Skyscanner on Android

2/ Aviasales

This service is designed to find the right tickets and book them, and has quickly gained popularity among users across the world. The application differs from numerous analogues in the following features:

  • Simple and intuitive interface
  • The possibility of booking and buying tickets in 728 air carrier companies
  • The necessary filters, allowing you to choose the most acceptable option

This application is extremely quick and user-friendly, which is why it is so popular. If the user frequently flies, it is advisable to register in the system, which will allow you to track search queries and further facilitate interaction with the system.

The app availability:

Free
Get Aviasales on iOS
Get Aviasales on Android

3/ TripIt

Application for organising the master route of the trip. Reduces entropy and streamlines chaos from multiple booking confirmations. This is one of the oldest travel-tech applications in the industry, which, nevertheless, remains a great assistant on the road.

TripIt automatically downloads emails with air tickets, hotel reservations, cars, excursion vouchers, and generates a harmonious route plan. You don’t have to transfer anything manually. In the pro version, TripIt finds alternatives to canceled flights, sends flight delay alerts, helps you navigate transfers, and so on.

Registering and setting up an account is convenient in the web version. It is also easier to make changes to the route in the web version. Everything else, directly supporting the traveller during the trip, will be done by the mobile version.

The system will send a reminder, for example – that it’s time to leave so you get to the airport on time, and let you know which terminal and when you can check in. If the trip takes place in the company of friends, you can set up sharing. The mobile version supports offline work, you can check the details of the trip without worrying about the availability of Internet access.

The app availability:

Free
Get TripIt on iOS
Get TripIt on Android

4/ LiveTrekker

LiveTrekker is suitable for both urban tourism and nature trips. The service works as a brain expander, helping to keep the impression alive.

If something interesting happens or emotions are so strong that you decide to capture them, the application will offer four ways to record data: type text, shoot video, record audio or take a picture.

At the beginning of the route, activate the application by pressing the “Start” button. LiveTrekker will run in the background, logging your movements in GPS route format with your marks.

The data is stored in the cloud, so you can look at the history of previous trips at any time and see a general interactive map of your trips. Routes can be shared on social networks. Of the nuances – a difficult registration at the start, which is best done through the web interface.

The app availability:

Free
Get LiveTrekker on iOS
Get LiveTrekker on Android

5/ TripTracker

Among the necessary applications for mobile platforms, TripTracker should be especially highlighted, because it allows you to track information about a flight, booked hotel or car rental in real time. This saves a lot of time and effort, and makes the journey more predictable and safer. TripTracker features:

  • Providing all the necessary information in one place
  • Informing the user about flight delays and other deviations from the specified schedule
  • Advice on which boarding gate is required in a particular case, as well as other useful information for travelers.

The application is incredibly popular among tourists from all over the world, and its ease of use makes it an extremely preferred option.

The app availability:

Free
Get TripTracker on iOS
Get TripTracker on Android

Best apps for expats for hotel search and deciding where to stay

It’s no secret that accommodation booking services are more reliable than a simple search for listings on the Internet or on the spot. They give a guarantee that the reservation will not be cancelled a few hours before arrival, and also bear financial obligations to the guest. The choice of applications for finding and booking hotels is great – from Booking and Expedia to Tripadvisor and Kayak. Known to all Booking.com and Airbnb are online accommodation booking systems that operate in more than 200 countries around the world (for Airbnb – 191). Some of them have added relevant features, for example, the popular Sherpa module appeared on Booking.com: if you enter the cities of departure and arrival, the date of travel and your citizenship, it shows all current restrictions.

As with airline tickets, you should choose a hotel with the option of free cancellation or change of booking, as well as with payment upon check-in. In this case, it will be easier to change the trip if the country suddenly falls into the “red” list or one of the travellers gets sick.

If booking in advance is not an option, then you should try the HotelTonight app with special offers on unsold rooms in the coming days. It will come in handy if you are suddenly stuck in the city for a few nights or did not have time to book a hotel in advance but want to save money.

If you are staying at a major hotel chain, ask the front desk if the hotel has a guest app and what it can do. For example, Digital Key from Hilton Hotels allows you to open the door to the room contactless from your smartphone, while the Bahia Principe network mobile application offers restaurant and spa reservations, maid calls or room service orders.

1/ Booking.com

Booking.com has been offering hotels, guest houses, hostels and apartments since 1996. The system is as simple as possible: just register, set search criteria and select the option you like. Check-in is guaranteed by the bank card data, but funds are not debited from it before check-in: they can only be “frozen” at the request of the hotel (not the service). As the number of trips accumulates, Booking.com users receive discounts on accommodation, free breakfasts and other bonuses.

Booking.com is currently considered the undisputed leader among services of this kind and can offer its users the following benefits:

  • User-friendly interface adapted for mobile
  • Advanced filters to find suitable offers
  • Reviews of real users
  • A huge database containing hostels, hotels and other accommodation options from around the world
  • In most cases, there is no need to use a bank card, which guarantees the security of user data

The app availability:

Free
Get Booking.com on iOS
Get Booking.com on Android

2/ Airbnb

Since 2008, this is a platform where only private housing has been advertised for rent – apartments, rooms, villas. The guest is charged a percentage for the transaction, which can reach 14.2%. Money is sent only through the platform, in case of any problems on the part of the landlord, they are returned to the guest. You can book the accommodation instantly or after talking with the owner, who will consider the application for rent.

In addition, it conducts educational activities in each region, attracting enthusiastic and sociable citizens and calling on them to act as a host in their hometowns, create excursions and earn money from it.

The app availability:

Free
Get Airbnb on iOS
Get Airbnb on Android

Best app for organising and storing information: Evernote

Since the modern traveller has to deal with a huge amount of various information, such as the date of booking a room and flight schedules, as well as other equally important information, there is a need for competent storage of it. For this purpose, the Evernote application is well suited, which has a simple multifunctional interface, the ability to synchronize with a variety of devices, as well as a huge list of other useful features.

Among them:

  • Cloud storage for all user information, which avoids its loss
  • A convenient mechanism for saving information, including web pages
  • Support for various information formats, such as text, audio and image files

The app availability:

Free
Download Evernote

Best apps for expats for language and translation

While English is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world, having a basic grasp of the language of your host country can prove invaluable. Here are our top two suggestions for apps that will help you overcome the language barrier.

1/ Duolingo

Want to learn the native language of your host country? This free app is a fun way to do so! Duolingo breaks down learning a foreign language into easily digestible, 5-10 minute lessons, with a large emphasis on reinforcing vocabulary and grammar over time. It helps expats learn the local language through easily digestible 5-10 minute lessons and games. This fun approach to learning can be great when you’re getting to grips with a new language.

The app is designed to keep you engaged, rewarding you with points for correct answers while slowly reinforcing your vocabulary and improving your grammar over time. The short lessons also allow you to practice your skills while on the move.

The app currently has courses for Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Russian, Ukrainian, Esperanto, Polish and Turkish, and there are plans to add more. However you may need to graduate to another app once you have mastered the basics as Duolingo lacks material for more advanced levels of study.

The app availability:

Free
Get Duolingo on iOS
Get Duolingo on Android

2/ Google Translate

Among the most famous and popular solutions for translating voice or text information into different languages, Google Translate stands out.This application is considered universal and supports a huge number of different languages ​​and dialects, which makes it stand out from the crowd of competitors. With the ability to translate 103 languages when connected to the Internet, or 52 while offline, this tool can be your best friend.

In addition, this is the oldest app of its kind, which has been improved over the years. Such development allowed her to achieve the highest quality machine translation, which made her the leader in this category. Features:

  • Support for more than 90 languages
  • The function of translating inscriptions from a photo for the most common languages
  • Possibility of offline translation

Despite all its advantages, the service also has disadvantages. Sometimes the translation is too literal (or mediocre, if done without an Internet connection). However, this is typical for all mobile apps of this kind.

The app availability:

Free
Get Google Translate on iOS
Get Google Translate on Android

Do you know what is culture shock and how it affects expats?
Find out more so you are ready when you move abroad

Best apps for expats for getting to know the area

1/ TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor allows you to plan your future trip to the smallest detail, find the best hotels, restaurants and shops. This application has a number of features:

  • View user reviews with photos from other tourists
  • List of main points of interest according to the parameters
  • Integrated ticket search and booking system
  • Function for obtaining information about nearby objects

Its key advantage is considered to be a huge number of users, as well as wide functionality, if we consider highly specialized mobile applications.

The app availability:

Free
Get Tripadvisor on iOS
Get Tripadvisor on Android

2/ Maps.Me

Being in an unfamiliar area or on the territory of another state, it can be very difficult to navigate and find where you are going. To help travellers with such problems, the Maps.Me app was created. It differs from analogues in high data accuracy, as well as in the abundance of objects marked by users on the map.

The main features of the application are:

  • Offline mode of operation that does not require an Internet connection
  • A huge variety of maps, as well as the ability to download only the desired region
  • A system for laying walking, cycling or car routes

In addition, the application features an integrated Booking.com service, due to which it is possible to view prices, descriptions and hotel reviews directly in the application, without going to the site of the same name.

The disadvantages include the need to pre-load maps, but it is precisely due to this that savings on communication services, typical for Maps.Me, are achieved.

The app availability:

Free
Get Maps.me on iOS
Get Maps.me on Android

3/ Airbnb Experiences

One of the best ways to get to know the city is to take a themed tour with an enthusiastic guide who knows the specifics and nuances of the place well and loves and knows how to talk about it. Tours from locals can now be booked at many sites: Peek (USA only), Headout, WithLocals, Triple, GetYouGuide.
Airbnb Experiences offers a good selection of local experiences, from cycling trips and nightly alternative hangouts to going to concerts at the Philharmonic and masterclasses in cheese making and furriery. In addition, it conducts educational activities in each region, attracting enthusiastic and sociable citizens and calling on them to act as a host in their hometowns, create excursions and earn money from it.

The app availability:

Free
Get Airbnb on iOS
Get Airbnb on Android

4/ Culture Trip

The British version of the online guide, tailored for mobile use. Culture Trip develops machine learning algorithms. The system processes data about the user’s location, tastes and preferences based on the content they liked and generates personal lists of related stories.

The app availability:

Free
Get Culture Trip on iOS
Get Culture Trip on Android

5/ iNaturalist

If the tourist route captures the natural area or you wandered into the park, you should definitely take the opportunity to “shazam” the birds and animals. This can be done using the iNaturalist application. It helps identify animals and plants using a pattern recognition system.

The difficulty is having time to photograph the object of study. The data received by the system will be processed by the neural network and, after identification, it will provide a link to Wikipedia with material about the found plant or animal.

The app availability:

Free
Get iNaturalist on iOS
Get iNaturalist on Android

6/ Foursquare

A guide app that shows nearby places of interest. It works with geo-data and determines the location of a person and immediately shows all interesting places nearby: from parks, squares, to large restaurants, hotels and various attractions. A small bonus for all users – you can leave the places on the map where you were and share with your friends.

The only drawback of the application is that it does not work without an Internet connection.

The app availability:

Free
Get Foursquare on iOS
Get Foursquare on Android

Best apps for expats for healthcare and emergencies

If you became very ill or were injured when overseas, there’s always the chance that the treatment you need might not be available at the local hospital. This is where emergency medical evacuation cover – medevac or repatriation insurance, as it’s sometimes called – can help.

Medical evacuation is the most expensive category you can claim for on your health insurance, with the average claim sitting at a huge US$13,469.66 with us in 2021. Medical evacuation is only done in very serious circumstances and would not be affordable to the average traveller if they had to pay out of pocket, especially if you’re venturing far from major cities into inhospitable or challenging terrain. For this reason, it’s incredibly important to have proper international health insurance in place while on your travels. This safety net removes the worry and angst that might plague you in the event of illness and ensures that you will receive appropriate treatment for your ailment.

Flush app will help take care of personal hygiene during the trip: washing your hands regularly is useful not only in the midst of a pandemic. Its database contains information on almost 200 thousand public toilets around the world, including free and accessible to people with disabilities.

1/ Doctoralia

Getting ill in a foreign country can be tough, especially if you haven’t got your bearings yet and are unsure where the local doctor or pharmacy is located. This is where Doctoralia comes in. The app will give you a map of all nearby health facilities, provide you will information like opening times and give you a rundown of what doctors are available, including what languages they speak.

The app can also be used to book appointments, helping you to avoid the hassle of going into the doctors’ surgery twice when you’re struggling to get out of bed. Doctoralia is currently available in 21 countries, with efforts being made to expand the service to even more, so keep an eye out for it.

The app availability:

Free
Get Doctoralia on iOS
Get Doctoralia on Android

Do you know how much health treatment can cost away from home?
Find out potential costs before you make a move

2/ Solace Secure

The Solace Secure smartphone application provides travellers, expats and digital nomads with information relating to global risk whilst providing the ability to track travellers position in relation to these risks. On a 24/7 basis the app monitors open source intelligence including global news outlets, social media, governmental travel advisories amongst others and provides this tool to access information quickly and easily. These ‘alerts’ are risk rated, categorised (Health, Terrorism, Environmental, Crime, Maritime, Armed Conflict, Political, Travel Information) and then geo-located. Users (the traveller) can therefore easily identify key threats in their immediate location and take measures to avoid and mitigate these risks. Features:

  • Geo-located risk alerts
  • Information covering both the land and maritime environment
  • SOS Functionality
  • Check-in location feature

The app availability:

Free
Get Solace Secur on iOS
Get Solace Secure on Android
This application requires a subscription to the Solace Secure platform which is available by contacting Solace Global direct.

3/Tripinsurance

An application for expats, digital nomads and tourists who take care of their health not only at home, but also abroad. You can view and make yourself insurance in any country, get advice from a practicing doctor, in the event of an insured event, promptly contact the company and record the case. The app provides medical assistance 24/7 in first-rate hospitals.

The app availability:

Free
Get Tripinsurance on iOS
Get Tripinsurance on Android

How to find an English-speaking doctor abroad?
Read before you make a move

Best apps for expats for money and finance

The coronavirus pandemic has given a strong impetus to the development of contactless payments – even in London, many businesses and events now refuse to accept cash. When planning a trip, connect your bank card to one of the services (for example, Apple Pay, PayPal or Google Pay), and the card itself can be left in a safe.

To stay away from cash, check out Monzo or Revolut digital bank offerings. Unlike traditional UK banks, they minimize or even eliminate the commission for using the card abroad. If you still need cash, Monzo allows you to withdraw funds indefinitely in the European Economic Area and up to £200 for 30 days outside of it. Revolut also offers favourable conditions for travellers, but mainly for premium account holders.

What about sending money abroad?

There are a lot of options, so it’s important to shop around for the best rates. You might want to investigate what banking apps have to offer. A few examples include:

  • Paysend – transfer money online to over 90 countries.
  • Wise (formerly TransferWise) – rates based on the real exchange rate. Receive money for free.
  • Western Union – a huge global network and your choice of sending cash to a bank account, Western Union agent, or (in some locations) direct to a mobile number.

Check our our latest and most detailed guide on how to open a bank account for non-residents.

Can you have a UK bank account if you don’t live in the UK?

You can simply keep your current account open if you leave the UK to live and work overseas. This might be a smart move, especially if you’re not moving permanently. There are also some accounts you can open ahead of time if you’re planning to move to the UK. It’s a good idea to check with your bank to see if they have links with UK banks as it can make doing this easier.

Currency Conversion: XE Currency & Money Transfers

You might have to constantly exchange money for local currency, if you are travelling abroad or relocating as an expat. Among the main features of the XE Currency currency converter, one can note the highest accuracy and reliability of the information, as well as a huge base of currencies. XE Currency stands out for:

  • Support of a huge number of states and currencies
  • The ability to create your own list, which eliminates the need to search for the desired option every time

All this makes XE Currency the best program of its kind, indispensable when travelling to another country. After all, it takes into account the slightest fluctuations of both the ruble and all other currencies, which allows you to avoid erroneous spending and other problems while travelling.

The app availability:

Free
Get XE Currency on iOS
Get XE Currency on Android

Find out more about dealing with your finances when living and working away from home:
read our blog on mortgages for expats

Best apps for staying in touch and communication

1/ Skype

Skype is a free app that allows users to send instant messages and make video calls over the internet. This is of course an incredibly useful way of staying in contact with friends and family back home, and so long as both sides are making use of the app it’s completely free, saving you from making costly international calls.

Skype is also useful as a networking tool as it allows you to set up conference calls and transfer digital documents, allowing you to stay connected with work even when halfway around the world.

The app availability:

Free
Get Skype from Microsoft

2/ Meetup

When you first move to a new country it can be very difficult to meet new people, especially if you work awkward hours or don’t enjoy going to bars or pubs. Thankfully the MeetUp app takes on a lot of the leg work when it comes to finding new social circles by offering you the ability to search for local groups of people who enjoy a certain subject or hobby, helping you reach out to individuals that share common interests with you.

The app also allows you to easily find other expats or English speakers, meaning you can avoid the linguistic difficulties that can be so problematic when you first relocate abroad. MeetUp is a great tool for making connections in a new city and is both recommended for anyone struggling to find local people to hang with or for those just looking to fill their social calendar. Discover the things you love to do and people to do it with both online and in person. With over 50 million members, Meetup helps you build a career network, discover a tech community, create a personal brand, and pursue your passions:

  • Get matched with over 330,000 groups based on your interests, from tech conferences to free yoga and everything in-between
  • Explore events by category, search by keyword, or see what’s popular in your area
  • Save events you’re interested in and revisit them later
  • Have discussions and use direct messaging to stay in touch with the people you meet

The app availability:

Free
Get Meetup on iOS
Get Meetup on Android

3/ VPNs

VPN is a universal way to bypass blocking. It allows you to pass all your traffic through an encrypted connection. Here are some reasons why you might need it:

  1. Gain access to secure Wi-Fi wherever you are
  2. Bypass geo-restrictions to stream videos online
  3. Gain unrestricted access to social media
  4. Access free VoIP services in restricted regions
  5. Safe online banking
  6. Cheaper flights

We do not recommend using free VPN services – they can earn money by collecting and selling your data.

Buy a VPN subscription by choosing a company that promises not to share your data and is independently audited. You will have to do a bit of work: you need to find the relevant information on the website of the VPN provider. The good news is that it’s not too difficult to find, because VPN providers are willing to report such an audit (after all, their reputation depends on it). Check who exactly did the audit: it should be a well-known company like Pricewaterhouse Coopers or Ernst & Young, information about which is also easy to find on the Internet.

Checklist: what else do you need to consider when travelling abroad?

  1. Do not ignore the health insurance policy – even when travelling in a familiar country, it can save you from serious losses.
  2. Think carefully about all the routes and calculate the costs so as not to get into an unpleasant situation. Especially if you are relocating with kids.
  3. Check tickets with several aggregators: this will help you find the best deal.
  4. Do not be afraid to use accommodation booking platforms, but carefully study the conditions of the reservation and reviews about the place and the owner.
  5. QR codes are a symbol of the coronavirus era. Chances are, you’ll have to read them multiple times during your trip, from airports to restaurant menus. Sometimes a regular smartphone camera can’t handle it, so you can install an alternative, such as Google Lens.

Thinking of becoming an expat and moving abroad in 2022?

There are a huge range of apps that can help make life as an expat that bit easier. This is our pick of five of the best, but have a hunt on the App Store and see what else you can uncover.

Wherever you decide to move, just make sure you have the confidence of international health insurance. At William Russell, we have been providing worldwide health cover for 30 years, helping expats like you and their families to settle into their new homes. Speak to us today to find out more about how global health insurance could support you.

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