On the Move

Travel Apps for Those Who Actually Travel

Considering the thousand-plus articles on travel apps out there—each prodding you to click with titles proclaiming “Top 20 Travel Apps You Should be Using Already, Dummy” and the like—why would I want to step into the fray and offer my two cents?

Simple. Because I feel that most of these articles overlook certain (read as: key) aspects of traveling.

Some focus on nightlife and restaurants, others concentrate on the avid hiker/camper, while others differentiate for those traveling solo and those with family in tow. The list goes on, with something literally for everyone. And while many of these provide some solid info, I find that very little of what they offer is actually necessary once the trip begins.


Examples? Skyscanner, Kayak, Airbnb, Wehostels… all great apps. Brilliant, even. But in the last 20+ years of active travel, I cannot recall ever having to find and book on the go.

Flights? Whether you choose to reserve months, weeks, or just days before, tickets are booked in advance. Rooms? I tend to make arrangements for the first few nights (or the entire stay if the trip is less than, say, a week). Normally you can extend easily enough if need be, but if not then nearby accommodation can be found in a pinch. The point being, I have yet to be on the street with phone in hand looking for either.

As well, because my travel is primarily city centers within Asia, car rentals are not much of a concern. Train, taxi, tuk-tuk, or trike… public transportation abounds. The few times I have found myself in need of a car for the day, the addition of a driver to go with it was minimal.—A driver? A bit pretentious, eh?—Not at all. A driver is not to inflate any skewed sense of self importance. Rather, it only makes sense that having someone with local knowledge behind the wheel gets you where you need to be faster (and ideally with less stress) than if you attempted on your own. More importantly—and this is too often overlooked—in many developing countries the sight of a foreigner driving around on their own is often enough of a temptation for someone to create a minor fender bender or pedestrian incident, the goal of which is a quick payoff. So again, if you are visiting and absolutely need a car, getting a driver is the way to go.

If you want to grab a motorcycle for the day and go tooling around, one can easily be found for rent by asking the front desk staff of pretty much any hotel (luxury or budget, it makes no difference). So again, no app required.

Trip pre-planning is not the concern here. No, the focus instead is on day-to-day use when traveling. This is meant as a brief “how to” for handling work and pleasure while on the road with the least amount of hassle.

(I use an iPhone so invariably one or two of these will be “Apple only.” Apologies in advance to the non-iPhone users reading this. Whenever possible, I have tried to include links to the Android version as well as any other OS versions. Also, as airline and banking apps differ from person to person, I have completely ignored.)

It amazes that this app is not more well-known, bordering on criminal, actually. Constantly updated and expanded, it crowdsources from a number of sites to give you a snapshot of the best that a city or country has to offer. Restaurants (top picks, searchable alphabetically, by type of food, by area, within 1 km of you), bars, shopping, museums, historical sites, mini walking tours, you name it. Triposo even lets you focus on the type of travel you prefer.

Another huge plus is that guides for each place (complete with interactive maps) are downloadable for offline use, which saves you from any nasty roaming charge surprises when you get back home. Simply cannot say enough about the sheer breadth of this app.

Nothing gets me more into the feel of wherever it is that I’ve just arrived at like local television or radio. And while Songza, Pandora, and Spotify all serve their purpose extremely well, they are “country-specific” (read as: they won’t work in other countries without a VPN). Also, none are live radio. TuneIn Radio lets you choose stations by region, country, genre, what have you… all of which is impressive in and of itself, but that’s not the reason for my recommendation. No, I am mentioning here because once I arrive at the hotel and begin to unpack (ideally before a night out), I open the app, browse “local radio,” and set the tone for the trip.

Looking for something better than your laptop’s internal speakers? If you have not heard of UE Boom, suggest you take a look at this CNET review and perhaps consider one for your next trip. Great in a hotel room or on the beach, and as its essentially weatherproof no need to worry about the elements.

One of the better, if not the best, currency exchange apps out there. Extremely easy to use, it provides live currency rates, as well as the ability to view historical rates over the day, weeks, months. And it’s free.

Although extremely useful, you do not want (or need) to be pulling your phone out for every purchase while away. Rather, a good rule of thumb is to pick out a mental benchmark for yourself that you can refer to over and again until you become somewhat comfortable with the currency. In Japan, tell yourself that ¥5,000 is about US$50. In the Philippines, that ₱1,000 is about US$20. In actuality, they are closer to US$40 and US$22, respectively, but this gives you a starting point to build an understanding and some confidence on while wandering around town the first few days.

Hmmmm… how to explain this one delicately, and without marking myself a bastard? While the old adage “what happens on vacation stays on vacation” is as apt today as ever, that doesn’t mean you can’t look back at pics from time to time, does it? This app provides a private way to do so, keeping any “sensitive” pics and/or videos (without the need to compress) away from any unwelcome eyes in a clever, clever way. Think that’s about enough said on this.

Continuing on with the theme of photos, this app takes the built-in camera on your iPhone and turns it up to 11. I normally travel with a compact super zoom, but there are times when its battery is drained or I simply can’t be bothered to carry it along. This app picks up the slack.

Past midnight and the hotel office center is closed and you need to print, sign, scan, and send back something? DocuSign allows you to open up the file on your phone, sign it, re-save in PDF format, and then send it on.

Speaking of scanning, even in remote areas you’ll invariably be able to get to a printer. A scanner, though? Considerably less likely. After spending three hours roaming Bologna, Italy, one winter night looking for one I realized just how uncommon they are. Enter DocScan. One of the better scanning apps out, it auto detects and corrects angles (as well as page “bends” near a book’s binding) and even allows for some minor adjustments to lighten and enhance colors before sending on. For those who absolutely need the ability to scan while away look at the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100. But for those who only might need or lightly need to while away, this app will do beautifully.

It was this (way too simplistic) intro to Dropbox several years back that sold me on the idea before a trip. I have only grown fonder of the app since. Whether it’s uploading and synching pictures you’ve taken, pulling up a reservation, or being out in the middle of nowhere and receiving an email from work asking for a file—which you can look inside Dropbox for and send a direct link to rather than attaching, uploading, and sending—it has never failed me.

Viber, Skype, WhatsApp, Line… it all comes down to personal preference. While I have three of the four on my phone, I lean much heavier toward Viber on a daily basis. I simply find it easier for texting as well as sending pics and video while away. And not to worry… although Viber gets registered to the cell number you input at the initial setup, it is actually tied to the handset. This means that switching SIM cards in different countries will not affect anything. You will still get whatever from whomever even switching SIM cards. Depending on your situation, this could be either a good or a really bad thing, I guess.

A song can take you back to a time or place like nothing else. If it’s something you heard out one night drinking in Bali (is that Romanian I hear?) good luck trying to Google that back home after your trip. Shazam stops that from ever happening, whether you have the app set for “auto” or are that guy in the club holding his phone over his head as close to the sound system as possible. Good look, bro.

While this app certainly works as advertised… my own experience traveling throughout Asia all these years has been that most restaurants and bars are fairly free with their Wi-Fi passwords, and as such I have never really struggled to get online when out and about for the day. I did, however, want to make sure and include it in this list as it may prove useful to those traveling in other regions.

Although I use these only rarely while traveling, they are definitely worth having on hand.

The new real-time camera translation function alone could prove useful.

A lot of people (myself included) are not aware that Google maps can be saved for offline use.

  • big in japan

    I have TuneIn on my phone and love it. But I’ve never even thought of using while out of the country, which is funny because I love listening to the radio in taxis while travelling. Thanks for the advice. I’m not as bright as I like to think I am, I guess. Ha

    • KP Lee

      Great user name! I think I saw this on a t-shirt in Asakasaka, on that little street that leads up to the temple/shrine. Definitely need to pick up a couple for friends back Stateside.

    • KP Lee

      I think the girls prefer size to smarts – wish I was you! 🙂

    • Iris Ling

      If taxis are your preferred way of commuting, you cannot go past Uber for its ease-of-use. Uber has had some bad press recently, but don’t let that get in the way of using this stylish, value-for-money app.

      • Tyresse

        Upvotting Uber! It is “Uber” user friendly! Get it?

      • Henry Cooper

        Am just now noticing the sheer number of comments this post has
        generated. Very, very cool to know that some out there found (at least) some of this to be of use.

        Regarding this one point on Uber, taxis are mostly never a concern within Asia city centers … but … depending on where you are staying and the time of day (before sunrise) or night (late night) it very well could be. – And while Uber is, well, Uber, for those traveling in Asia I would say that the GrabTaxi app (instead of Uber) is the one you should probably be looking at.

        Just returned from 12 days in Manila and each cab I was in had it there pinging every few seconds on the seat beside the driver. As well, there is
        also the “GrabCar” (instead of taxi) service within the app. This is
        (even more) clearly aimed at Uber’s market.

        • Arnie

          Thanks for the tip!

      • Fitzy

        Uber is a very useful app. My whole team uses this when we travel — you can’t go wrong!

  • tokyo chris

    XE Currency and Photo Calculator are my new essential apps when I’m away .. Huge thanks! Absolutely brilliant.

    • Rusty

      +1 Photo Calculator

      • Smithy

        This, definitely this. 😉

      • Randy

        OMG THIS!

    • Bear Chaser

      What a great idea!!! I have a second phone that I use to take photos of my hookups when I am touring Asia so that I can keep them off my lover’s radar. My Bear is the jealous type. This is my answer-Photo Calc. Bye bye, second phone:

      • BigKurt

        You should check you security settings too. I keep all my “good” pics locked away and only I know how to access them on my phone. That way when a new fling (usually one I meet using Tinder) wants to play with my phone, I can let them go nuts, worry free!

        • Iggy

          Tinder plus 1

        • Benji

          Why are you letting them go nuts playing with your phone, man? Let them play with your nuts. Forget about the phone. Much more fun.

        • Sanjay

          You must be hanging with some ball busters if they are screwing with your smartphone, bruva. My lady touch mine and she back out on the street. Don’t stand for that. Man up!

          • corey

            Ahmen! I feel you.

          • BigKurt

            I just give them my phone so they shut up while I get my work done! Can’t have that yapping distract me while I’m in my zone. Once I finish, it’s back to having fun, ha!

          • The Tapster

            BigKurt that’s the same thing one of my girl’s does with her kid. She gives her daughter (6) the iPad and the kid is entertained for hours! Which leads me to the question, how old are these women you are tapping, bro?

  • Another Chris in Tokyo!

    You’re right. I thought this would be just another tireless list of the latest apps. However, it turns out some of these are really useful. Can’t wait to check them out after typing this in. Good job, Henry!

    • me

      Tell us how you get on!

      • Gurt McDirt

        I can tell you how I get off! Just give me a pinay poon in sum booty shorts and I am almost there

        • Pedro

          Girt, ya dawg!

  • Tim

    I have just started using an app called Am I Going Down? Want to know the probability of your flight not making it to its destination, then this is it! Hilarious!

    • KP Lee


      • Tim


      • Jaquis

        U mad bro?

    • BigKurt

      Am I Going Down? That’s usually what I ask myself before I meet up with a pretty little thing I met through Tinder!

  • Burly Fella

    Best app by far that’s needed in Tokyo is “SceneTap.” Tells you which bars are hopping, guy/girl ratios, event, specials, etc. No more guessing….

    • Baltimore Bruiser

      Burly Fella, you say this works in Tokyo? The English-language app supports Wichita, KS but I am not seeing any love for Tokyo. Do I need the Japanese-language app? I can get my secretary to download it for me if needed.

    • Michel V

      I don’t think “SceneTap” works in Japan? But I do know a great App for those traveling in Tokyo called “Goodnite.” A buddy of mine from back when I worked in finance actually developed it. Really chill dude from LA, currently runs his own company in Naka-Meguro. Anyway, the App gives you all the nearest “izakayas”(Japanese-style bar and grill), bars, clubs, OP pubs, and even Karaoke boxes. Truly a “must have” for the Tokyo traveler.

      • the CEO

        “OP pubs”? Over priced? (Serious question!)

        • J Robb

          I think he is referring this kind of hands-on strip club popular in Japan. Never been to one myself but I have a lot of friends who work at Prudential in Akasaka that absolutely LOVE them.

          • the CEO

            OIC — first time to hear that!

        • Dirk

          Titty bars!!!!!

  • The quaterback

    +1 UE Boom

    It’s not the cheapest wifi speaker on the market, but a real sweet sound. A dude I know has two of these units that are synched together. Very sweet setup!

  • KP Lee

    I just saw the “Lobby Friend” app on CNN the other day when I was in KL. It looks really useful. At the moment, the app only seems to cover the States. I am on layover at Chep Lap Kok on my way back to Boston — to buy some downtown condos — so will definitely check it out when I am there.

    Other apps I like are “Fruit Ninja.” That keeps me entertained for hours. I spend a lot of time on flights in Asia, as well as to and from the Middle East and Europe, and I find this is a great way to kill time and improve hand-eye coordination.

    I have started to get into “Candy Crush,” but I have been stuck on Level 117 for so long that I am start to losing interest — up until that point it has been a lot of fun, though!

    “Viber” is pretty hand, although I only know two people who use it, so I guess “Line” might be the way to go — more bang for my buck!

    I only use the three iPhones I have — work, family and private — so I don’t know much about Android apps. A buddy that I drink with who runs a small boutique merchant banking operation out of Singapore is an Android guy. I will hit him up for some of his top apps and will post later.

    • Smithy

      KP I think Henry was focusing on travel apps.

    • Zack

      I am still on level 86, but I should get to 117 by the end of the month. Keep trying, friend. Have you stocked up on lollipop hammers? They are great to use.

  • BigKurt

    I can’t believe Tinder did not make this list. I have had so much success with the locals where I travel using that App.

    • Big in Asia

      Upvotting Tinder

    • Dessert Queen

      Grindr is also good for casual hookups. The LGBT scene in NY basically is powered off Grindr.

      • Dessert Queen

        Should that be “desert”? I always mix those two up.

  • Polly

    Hyperlapse is a fun app that doesn’t require an internet connection once it is downloaded and can be a great way to document less-than-interesting things that might not warrant the time and effort it takes to set up and take a photo.

  • Always go long in the physical

    I usually get our HR department or my PA to book all of my flights. In saying that, however, when I am off for a weekend with the lads, I love to use Google Flights. A great way to check what flights are available, costs, etc. This app is free.

  • Demarcus

    If your travel is taking you somewhere sunny, you’d better take care that you don’t burn under the hot summer sun. The app that I use is SunScreen. Based on geo-local data and inputting the SPF rating of your sunscreen, this app will remind when you need to reapply the sunscreen to avoid becoming a crispy critter. Got second-degree burns while sea kayaking in Phuket last year, which was not a lot of fun.

  • Dougie

    Have you heard of the History Here app? It only covers the States at the moment, so it may not be so useful for you, being based out of Asia. In saying that, you seem to be well traveled and know your way around Asia, which with your apparent entrepreneurial flair, may be a golden business opportunity. I talked about it with some guys from college, who said the “technology” is not that hard. They said you probably could get the engine into beta for around $5K. The content is the killer. Maybe employ some college kids in each of the countries to work on the content. I dunno. Henry’s Local History app (Asia). There are crazier ideas out there for apps. Keep on sharing your knowledge with us, Henry.



  • Ayano

    Where is the love for Line?

    • Richie

      Ayano., Line is just a watery version of Viber. The cool kids use Viber. Give it a try. All my friends and family are connected via Viber, so it is so easy to send mom a message on her birthday, remind dad when it is his wedding anniversary, catch up with what’s new with the crew from middle school and high school, etc etc …. hahaha …..

      • Graham

        I second that. Line is just too “Japanesey” for me. Viber is clearly the better choice for those who are active in other parts of Asia.

  • Xue

    My top 10 travel applications (notin any order)

    Google Maps
    Fright Radar
    Drop Box
    XE Curency
    Sky Scanner
    United Airlines
    Wi-fi Finder

    • Munter

      I prefer Cathay Pacific to UA because I have a ton of miles saved up that usually gets me a couple of upgrades on my home for Xmas every year. Do you know if Cathay Pacific has a similar app?

      • John

        Looks like you are living up to your name. Anyone who prefers CP to UA must be munted!

    • Manfred

      No offense but not only do you seem to struggle with your “ying-wen,” your counting skills seem lacking as well. That being said, Sky Scanner is absolutely fantastic. Kinda surprised it didn’t make the list here. It’s the perfect app for my on-the-go lifestyle (I travel often to the middle east, Asia, and north Africa, for business). I cannot explain to you how much I have saved on flights, particularity to Mactan–Cebu International and Dubai International. The money saved has allowed me to really “enjoy” my free time on business trips.

      • Kalil

        Umm dummy! He mentions Sky Scanner in the beginning of the article? Did you even read it! He talked about how everyone talks about apps like Sky Scanner. Henry takes a different approach to on-the-move journalism that is CLEARLY over your head bro.

  • DeShawn

    Henry I take it you are not much of a sports fan? I grew up on Cherry Street in Seattle, and really need Apps that help me follow my Hawks as I am currently traveling throughout Asia doing freelance design and translation work. That’s why I definitely recommend TheScore for any sports nuts out there. Nothing like waking up in Kuching on a Monday and being able to check the score of the Seahawks game! Not to mention easy access to real-time news going on around the NFL, MLB, NHL, etc. GO HAWKS!

    • Doug Schmidt

      DeShawn, you must have hit the Cherry Street Coffee House. Ham/Cheese bagel rocks. My sister used to work there when she was at Garfield. Before work I would slide in for my caffeine fix and a bagel. Good times. I am working out at Everett, so I haven’t been for a time.

      • DeShawn

        Doug, say word! Small world bro. I use to hit up Cherry Street Coffee House all the time before work when I was bussing tables at Cutters Crabhouse off Western Ave. Does your sister know Laila Ghambari? She is actually a close family friend.

        U say you live in Everett. That’s crazy too bro because I actually have a cousin out there who works as a facilities manager at Xfinity Arena.

        • Doug Schmidt

          My sister knows of her by name. My sister worked until the summer of 2013. Apparently Laila started some time after that. It is a small world, eh. Some colleagues from Boeing and I are going to the R Kelly concert next week. Mad, eh!

          • DeShawn

            Doug, I know if you a Seattle bro like myself, you gots ta be hurtin right now bro. How do you not feed the beast at the one yard line and win the game??? #worstplaycallever

          • Doug Scmidt

            DeShawn, I was at the stadium. The “Beastmode” call went out from the Hawks fans — 2 years running baby — and we bobbled it. I don’t get it. At least I still got R Kelly to look forward to!

  • mylittlepony

    XE Currency is a great app. When traveling thru the ME procuring spices and sparkly trinkets, I find myself always referring to this app, to convert lira to pounds, pounds to yen, yen to dollars, the permutations seem unlimited. The easy to use interface offers a pleasant user experience, while also offering real-time foreign exchange information at the touching of a button. Comparing XE Currency to My Currency Converter, which was my to-go-to app, XE Currency is much more easier to use. I am surprised that XE Currency didn’t make it to the list. I can not live with out it.

    • Antrel

      “procuring spices and sparkly trinkets” you a pirate or sum sht son!?

  • Toldeo Mike

    Henry said; “Hmmmm… how to explain this one delicately, and without brandishing myself a bastard?”

    Too late, buddy! You horn-dog, you! You know I love you, bro.

    Are you heading to Morocco for the GP, again. Gazza and Luigi have the company yacht again this year. W-I-L-D times, dude! Cannot wait! Hanging out for the week with those European chicks. Sweet times, man. Sweet times.

    • BigKurt

      Sounds like Henry is one “dirty birdie” as they say. Can’t blame him though. If he has traveled extensively in Asia over the past 20 years like myself, there is really no way around it.

      One time me and a friend were just playing a game of cards at Boracay Beach Club in the A.M. and (kid you not) two beautiful little things came up and legit offered their “services” to us, for free! What’s a boy to do, ha!

      • Toldeo Mike

        Henry has his success with those of the fairer persuasion. Who can blame them!

  • Antrel

    Yo this aint really an app or nutin, but worlstarhiphop man! That keep a brotha laughin. Doods be so STOOPID on there doe. I aint really trave cuz im stationed here in Korea on this military, but that site is bomb. killlin time watchin doods go fistacuffs CTFU!

  • Mike

    A very informative posting, highlighting some non-“mainstream” travel apps that the writer believes add a different flavor than those of other must-have app lists that every other website seems to post.

    Being an avid traveler, Henry has offered up some great suggestions. Henry is a traveler. These apps are ones that he uses, ones that actually work. In addition, with broad experience in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, Henry is offering suggestions that you can use when you are traveling internationally. A lot of the other lists you see, you get a US-centric theme, which is fine for those in the States, but international travelers like Henry and I live to a different standard.

    You arrive in a new town in the middle of the night and you need information about how to get to your hotel, etc. Cab drivers speak little English in the exotic places we travel to. Google Translator is a must — don’t go past Go, don’t get $100. Middle school Spanish can get you to your hotel in Cancun, but it is a different story when you are at Yangon at 10:30pm on a Thursday after a busy day of meetings in Seoul. Google Translator will get you to the Agoda with minimal fuss.

    I think people who are responding to this article, need to look at it from the viewpoint of an intelligent, business-savvy international traveler, who is after more in an app than where the closest Chucky E. Cheese is located.

    If you, too, are a businessman that needs to manage a busy team based in Singapore while juggling business transactions with multinationals in various countries on an almost daily basis, listen to Henry’s advise. He knows what he is talking about. This stuff works!

    • Antrel

      You shud be a writer wit dat novel you jus wrote dawg! Y u hatin on Chuky Cheese? Lve me sum Chucky cheese son! That mouse is pimpizzle foshizzle

  • Thatcher

    “In many developing countries the sight of a foreigner driving around on their own–aimlessly or otherwise–is often enough of a temptation for someone to create a minor fender bender or pedestrian incident, the intended goal of which is a quick payoff.”

    OMG, could not have said it better, so many of these money hungry locals are just gunning to tangle up with a foreigner just to take advantage of our superior financial status. That’s why I always make sure to arrange a driver (or have my assistant do so), when I am in a pinch.

    Sometimes the nerve of these local is beyond me. I just want to go to their country and enjoy their drugs and women, leave me alone!

  • Kaylani

    Do guys really go that wild in Asia? My bf just got back from a trip to the PI and I also noticed he just downloaded the Private Photo Calculator app from the app store. Hmm, I think he has some explaining to do.

    • Paolo


    • Lily

      Letting him go to the PI by himself was a big mistake! My man insisted on going so I let him and he never came back. I gave him my all (and gave it to him always lol) but the PI took him from me. I guess he didn’t see how lucky he was with me. His loss!

      • Toshi

        I’m a gay banker and I love the PI! My friends and I call it Penis Island.

  • Go Hard In Da Kitchen

    Yo I finna hid dem nasty pics from my girl wit dat photo calc right quick! thanks for da heads up coop! Good lookin out!

    • Kaylani

      Ugh! The guys on this site are such PIGS! I
      guarantee my man was thinking the same thing when he got that app! I am SO done
      with him. I’m worth more than that!

      • Henry Cooper

        (Please let me not immediately regret stepping into this.)

        The app serves a variety of functions for a variety of people, Kaylani. It simply keeps any information (business or personal) a few steps removed from the public’s eyes.

        You don’t need to like what others may/may not use it for … but I would gather that if you and your man had perhaps taken a few “fun pics” together one night that you would definitely feel more comfortable with them hidden on his phone. – Even more so if his phone was ever lost or stolen. Just something to consider. His downloading it doesn’t need to automatically imply an ulterior motive.

    • Mike


  • Clayton

    A lot of really useful apps listed here. I have yet to travel to Asia, but this year I am planning to spend a couple months backpacking around there. This apps look like they can save me a lot of time and trouble. Most places I looked about travel apps just sad the same boring stuff. This was really cool and helpful. Thanks!

    • Theodore

      Clayton, you should def bookmark this site as it is has oodles of useful information and interesting articles! This site will be your best friend as you move about Asia. It certainly is mine!

  • Gurt McDirt

    I gotta say that managing your photos is a must if you are a single dude traveling in Asia. I wish I had heard about photo calc before I went traveling over there for a few months. Great times, but due to improper “photo management,” I accidentally sent a “fun pic” to my entire office. Oops.

    Needless to say I am currently looking for work haha!

  • Swell Mel

    Great stuff. Curious, in your travels have you ever used a biz expenses type app called ‘Expensify’? Could be handy but also seems a bit overkill too…

    • Henry Cooper

      Thanks, Mel. Apologies for the delay, but I wanted to give myself a day or two with Expensify before replying. It’s definitely impressive, and no doubt will fit the bill for many on here now that you’ve put the word out. – As my travels are mostly for myself, though, am afraid that keeping track of what (vices) I spend my cash on may prove too much for me to handle.

  • good tips, thanks