I am a freelancer and over the years I have built up a good base of clients worldwide. Imagine working in 5 time zones excluding mine, so I have a requirement to be constantly connected. Although WiFi is ubiquitous in the US and we are stunned when a coffee shop does not provide it for free, Wifi is (surprise!) not always easy to find in the rest of the world.
With my trusty iPhone I can wander in to any phone shop across the world and constantly be connected for about $10 a month.
Before I tell you about apps… if you have an unlocked phone for your travels please don’t come back to the US and sign up for some massively expensive main player plan. It is possible to get unlimited data, voice and text for only $40 a month without a contract (which means you can stop and start as you please). I use Net10 Wireless and have had great service for years.
The Basics: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn – I don’t have to tell you why I have these. I need them.
GV Phone: I have a free Google Voice number (you can have one too). This is my permanent number. No matter where I am I can be reached on my Google Voice number. GV Phone let’s me make outgoing phone calls for free to anyone in the United States. Skype is always my first choice and conference calls but sometimes when I am stuck on the road GV Phone is a life saver.
Vonage: If you plan on traveling in the US only Vonage is a great app to have if you have a Vonage plan. It allows for you to call throughout the US as well as to 60 other countries directly from your cell phone using your home phone plan.
Skype: Obviously. But – an additional thing I love about Skype is the ability to buy local phone numbers (for cheap) anywhere in the world.
Tether.com: A sneaky little app that I am not even sure is legal in most countries (jk) but it is truly a life-saver. In the moments where you must be on your laptop (you need to edit a file, or just need a bigger screen) and you can’t find wi-fi anywhere… Tether.com to the rescue. Tether.com allows you to plug your iPhone in to your Mac, hook them together, and then use the phone data plan to get online on your laptop. Unless you are lucky enough to have an unlimited data-plan you need to be careful with this one – but it’s great for emergencies.
Wi-Fi Finder: Not always updated completely but this app can be incredibly helpful. I have had many a moment where I have to be on a conference call now and the Wi-Fi Finder has come to my rescue. Just open the app and a (using your current location) a list will pop-up of all of the surrounding Wi-Fi connections categorized by paid and free. Awesome.
DuoLingo: Before you go or on the go – this is the best language learning app I have ever come across. In my opinion the ramification aspect makes it even better than Rosetta Stone. It’s just more fun. Best of all… it’s free!
Words Lens: I have to admit that this app freaks me out a little bit. It seems so magical it’s creepy. When you hover the camera phone over words in a foreign language this app replaces (yes actually replaces) the words (in the same font and everything) with English. It is obviously still being developed as sometimes you can’t keep still enough for the translation to come through but it is still quite amazing.
MyLanguagePro: A fabulous language translator that even speaks the translation for you so that you pronounce it correctly. You can save phrase translations that you use again and again to refer back to.
Mint: Have I mentioned I am a personal finance freak? The reason that we have so much freedom is because our spending is directly related to our Ultimate Whys. And always tracked, very, very closely. If I have Mint with me I can categorize spending and check our budgets as we go and be sure that we aren’t overdoing it.
AirBnB: As we travel we have slowly developed an aversion to hotels for anything longer than a few nights stay. Having the AirBnB app in my hands is awesome as we can quickly find affordable, unique accommodation anywhere we go.
HotelTonight: We love to plan - but sometimes it seems we make plans for the sake of changing them. We often change our mind as we travel which means we don’t often book ahead as we are moving from one place to the next. Hotel Tonight looks at your location and shows you hotels with available rooms for that night at deeply discounted prices.
Around Me: I use this all the time in the US. I have a problem. When I get hungry I need to eat NOW. Around Me knows where you are and tells you where everything is. It’s saved us from an empty gas tank or two as well!
MiFlight: Remember that time when you checked online, walked straight through the security line and ended up having to spend 2 hours sitting at your gate? Remember how you got all confident and left it later the next time and the security line was a mile long and you came this close to missing your flight? Well with this app you don’t have to find yourself in either situation. Just tell MiFlight which airport you are flying from and it will return a list of the wait times at security.
Wunderlist: There are lots of choices for tracking tasks so I wouldn’t get hung up on this one. I use Wunderlist because I’ve used them all and this one feels nicest.
Buffer Daily: Got some time in that check-in line? Taking that highway drive to the Pisa airport for the 50th time? Get some reading and sharing done with the Daily recommended reads from Buffer. Just a swipe posts them to your Buffer account. You do have a Buffer account?
Feedly: It’s how I stay on top of my favorite blogs. I like the magazine feel of it.
SoundGecko: You know how much we drive sometimes? A lot. You know how car-sick I get if I read in the car? A lot. This handy app will take the url of any blog post or online article, convert it to voice and send it to your iPhone. Yep. You can “read” your stuff on the road. I load up Sound Gecko with good stuff right before I get on the road and I’m a happy camper.
Siri: Oh what would I do without you my love! From instant measurement calculations, to managing my calendar, to “writing my emails” while I am in the car (see above re: car sick), to taking notes for me as I am listening to podcasts or SoundGecko, to amusing my daughter with conversation. Travel life would be that much more lonely and difficult without Siri.
Shazam: I’m sure that everyone has Shazam on their phone by now.
Gratitude! : I have a lot to be grateful for – but travel and life as a freelancer can sometimes get stressful. I practice daily gratitude for two reasons; to remind me of all I have to be grateful for and live quietly for a moment in that gratitude, to journal my daily experiences so I can always have them with me to make me smile when things get tough. This lovely app has a sweet, simple interface. You can list your daily gratitudes, attach photos and quotes and rate your day.
With all these handy tools always in the palm of my hand I am truly able to work from absolutely anywhere. And who says we are years away from the 4th economy! There are thousands and thousands of apps so I know for a fact I haven’t captured all of them. What are your favorites? Tell me in the comments so I can go and download them!