“There’s an App for that”

Written by Chris Brummett February 19, 2018

During a semester program at CIMBA Italy, students receive various opportunities to travel.  Specifically, there are two extended travel weeks, and one 10 day break roughly placed in the middle of the semester.  This past weekend, we had our first, four day weekend.  With all of this travel coming up, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the travel apps I’ve found the most useful so far. 

Here are a few which made my first trip to Berlin less stressful.

Over the last couple of years, technology has made traveling abroad exponentially easier now that wifi is much more widely accessible and apps are instituting offline features.  Many people involved in CIMBA will recommend making sure you either have a phone plan that provides you with plenty of cellular data or getting a SIM card when you arrive. While those are great options, you can certainly make do without either if you choose to do so. I am one of the few students who decided to forego either of those choices but instead found that by using several apps and occasional wifi service, I was fine.


App Advice #1 – MAPS.ME

This is the most important app that I can recommend. You can download regional maps onto your phone and it somehow tracks your location without using cell (or wifi) service. I don’t entirely understand the technology behind it, but it is incredibly reassuring knowing that you will always be able to tell where you are and where you need to go. This app especially came in handy when there was a mix-up with my taxi driver and we were headed in the opposite direction of the airport.



App Advice #2 – Google Translate

Another lifesaver is the more well-known “Google Translate” app. This app is always useful, but the fact you can download specific languages for offline use makes this app a must have when going to non English speaking countries (especially areas that aren’t tourist hotspots). I was able to make use of the offline feature in Berlin while in a more residential area and needed to ask someone for help finding the closest bus stop. After a few failed attempts at pronunciation, I started to just hold my phone up with the translations.


App Advice #3 – Google Photos

It’s also inevitable that you’ll be taking a lot of pictures and videos while abroad which can quickly fill up a 16 gb phone like I have. Luckily, “Google Photos” exists and can easily ease any storage issues you may be having. It’s a really easy process to back up your photos on the app and arrange them in various albums. It also has a creepy good search feature in which you can just type in a word, any word, such as “dog” and it will pull up every single dog photo you have stored on your phone.

App Advice #4 – Maps

Lastly, the native map app on your phone is the most useful when it comes to figuring out public transport (although I am still looking for better options). On my iPhone it was easy to search my designated destination while I had wifi connection, figure out the route, and then the phone would manage to continue to track my location from there. Using this method I was able to avoid any mix-ups while using the public transportation in Germany.

Hopefully at least one of these apps or features is new information or useful to you and can help you in your journeys abroad. Alla Prossima!