Studying abroad is a time of self-exploration and experiences. It can also be a huge break from what’s familiar. Below are 10 apps, websites and other online tools to help you stay in touch with family and friends, make travel plans while abroad and reflect on your journey when you return home.
This app allows you to text/message others with the app for no cost. All you need is a connection to the Internet in order to send or receive messages, which is great if you don’t want to spend money for international texting capabilities. You can also send photos or videos through the app, share a contact or even share your location. My favorite feature is the audio note, which allows you to record and send a voice message.
WhatsApp’s telephone counterpart, Viber allows you to make free calls to anyone who also has the app on his or her phone. This app is nice for when you need to talk to someone quickly without access to Skype. Like WhatsApp, you simply need Internet access to operate Viber.
Tip: Download the app before you go abroad. In order to register, the app sends an access code to your phone number, and if you don’t have service in your study-abroad country, you will never receive the text. Save yourself the hassle and download before you leave.
Skyscanner is a free flight-comparison website. You can also look at hotels and car rentals. Prices are checked daily and you can even sign up for a price alert emails if you want a more constant source of information. The site allows you to compare not only prices but also times or airlines to get a comprehensive overview of flights without doing extra research.
This app is a lifesaver when it comes to doing multiple conversions. Through the app, you can convert almost any type of unit including currency, temperature, weight, volume, speed, pressure, length, mass, area and many more. The exchange rates are refreshed automatically every six hours for over 167 countries. The app also has a built-in standard calculator and a tip calculator.
While there’s definitely a place for special handwritten postcards, Touchnote is awesome for sending out postcards or greeting cards to a lot of people very quickly. You can upload your own pictures (maybe even one with you in it), write a message and fill in the address information. It ships automatically from the site. There’s no hassle in buying stamps and finding a post office, and friends and family will love seeing a picture you’ve taken on a postcard.
Hostelworld is the place to look if you are interested in doing any type of traveling while abroad. Each hostel is given an overall approval rating and also a breakdown in terms of character, security, location, staff, atmosphere and cleanliness. You can read recent reviews of past guests as well. The website requires a 10% deposit and the rest is paid upon arrival. The site also has reviews of local tours and attractions, in addition to travel videos, podcasts and pocket guides to various cities.
Bonus: Groups with more than nine people that book together receive a discounted rate.
Sandeman’s offers free walking tours of London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Prague, Paris, Madrid, Jerusalem and Copenhagen. These tours are a great, free way to see the best parts of the city with a very knowledgeable guide available alongside. Reservations are required and can be booked online. It’s generally expected that you tip your guide because the tour is free of charge.
If you are planning on keeping a blog for family and friends back at home, WordPress is a great option. You can easily set up a feature to allow users to sign up to follow your updates by email. Posting pictures is a breeze and commenting is easy to figure out, especially for parents and grandparents. Statistics are also available to let you know how many visitors your blog receives, what links are being clicked on and the posts that are most popular.
Life in Seconds is an interesting concept that allows you to record one second of video each day. Depending on how long you are studying abroad, you can them play back these clips in a two- to six-minute montage of highlights from your trip. The day-by-day clips remind you of all the fun experiences and moments you had throughout your time abroad and the compilation can easily be shared and uploaded to Facebook or Twitter.
10. JetLag Genie
This app can save you hours of discomfort and exhaustion. Enter your flight information and personal sleep preferences, and the app creates a plan for you to follow in terms of altering your sleep patterns, exposing yourself to sunlight or taking melatonin pills.
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