- As Business Insider’s International Correspondent, I’ve spent the last six months traveling through Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Greece, Israel, and Russia, among other places.
- I use a ton of different apps to make travel as efficient and seamless as possible. I decided it would be fun to reveal my most-used apps and why I use them.
- Among the apps I use all the time: WhatsApp, Adobe Lightroom CC, CouchSurfing, Triposo, The Culture Trip, GooglePhotos, and many, many more.
As Business Insider’s International Correspondent, I’ve spent the last six months traveling through Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Greece, Israel, and Russia, among other places.
Traveling for a living is a fun, exhilarating, and, quite frankly, exhausting experience. But the best way to make it more fun and less exhausting is to have a digital toolkit (i.e. smartphone) loaded up with every app I need to get things done as efficiently as possible.
When I get off a plane, I want to know how much money to take out of the ATM, how to hail a cab, where the best hole-in-the-wall restaurant is for dinner, and how to say “I’d like to order 10 of those, please.”
With 12 countries checked off on the trip so far — and who knows how many to go — I decided it was time to reveal my most-used apps. They aren’t all revelations (who hasn’t heard of GoogleMaps?), but I can guarantee there’s at least one in there you haven’t thought of yet.
Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration for your next trip abroad:
1. WhatsApp — Free
By far, my most used app. So long as you are outside of China, WhatsApp is likely the most common messaging for Americans and everyone else.
2. Facebook Messenger — Free
Like everyone else these days, I hate using Facebook, but a huge part of my social network is there. In addition, Facebook is the app that just about every person you meet also has. Thankfully, Messenger is an aesthetically pleasing and pared-down messaging app that lets you tap into that network without having to be bombarded with your high school ex’s political arguments.
3. Telegram — Free
Telegram has turned into my go-to for talking to sources in countries where the government might be watching what you say (cough China, Russia cough).
4. Google Maps — Free
I’m sure I’m not the first person to recommend using Google Maps to get around literally everywhere (except China), but the feature I find the most useful while traveling is the ability to download offline maps for places I’m in. That way, I can still navigate without blowing up my data bill.
5. Waze — Free
I can’t tell you how many traffic jams social-navigation app Waze has gotten me out of. Turning every phone using the app into an information-generating node is just plain genius. I’ve found that it often has more accurate directions in other countries than Google.
6. My Currency Converter — Free
As I move from country to country, I am constantly using different currencies. It’s hard to keep track of what’s worth what. My Currency Converter & Rates is a simple offline exchange app that, while not so up-to-date that I would recommend Forex traders use it, it’s just fine for the average traveler.
7. Google Translate — Free
Yes, Google Translate can teach you how to say Nǐ hǎo, but did you know that you can download entire languages for offline translation or hold it up to signs or menus for instant translation?
8. Triposo — Free
If I want to get a quick feel for what’s happening or what to do in a new city, I immediately download the Triposo travel guide. While it’s never the most extensive guide, it gives you the basics in an easy, attractive package. And it works offline.
9. Culture Trip — Free
When I want to dig a bit deeper into a destination or have a more specific question (like which museum is better), Culture Trip has me covered. You have to do a bit of sifting — the content is only as good as the local creator — but more often than not, it’s led me to the hole-in-the-wall bar I didn’t know I was looking for.
10. FourSquare — Free
You probably stopped using FourSquare in 2013 after your roommate took over your mayorship of the corner bodega, but I suggest you look again. So long as you are in a city that has an active community, I have found FourSquare to have far more accurate reviews and better recommendations than TripAdvisor, Yelp, or anything else.
11. Google Drive — Free
This a no-brainer. Where else are you going to store your photocopy of your passport?
12. Google Photos — Free
I know I’m starting to sound like a Google junkie here, but Google Photos has saved my butt on more than a few occasions. I have it set to automatically backup my phone. When I fill it up, the app will let me delete everything already backed up with a few clicks.
13. Manual —$3.99
The iPhone camera app is great most of the time (particularly if you’ve got Portrait Mode), but like all auto cameras, it’s only as smart as computer behind it. Manual lets you dig into the settings and change shutter speed, white balance, and everything else you need to get that perfect shot of fireworks.
14. Sony PlayMemories + FujiFilm Cam Remote — Free
I travel with both a Fuji X-T2 and a Sony RX100 V. One of my favorite features of both cameras is the ability to transfer photos directly to my phone using their apps (for Instagram, duh). Fuji’s app also has the ability to use your phone as a remote, which is great for setting up self-portraits or night shots.
15. Lightroom CC — Freemium
I use Adobe Lightroom on my desktop to do all my photo editing for stories. The iPhone app is a slightly pared down version that is still extremely powerful for a mobile photo-editing app. In fact, I kind of enjoy editing on it more than my laptop. The features, and the options, are endless.
16. Instagram — Free
After holding out for years, I have turned into an Instagram addict. No social network has proved more conducive to me sharing both my photos and my half-baked witticisms and memes. Twitter used to do it for me, but it’s not a great photo-sharing app and, these days, it’s just plain exhausting.
18. Uber + Grab — Free
It might surprise you to learn that Uber isn’t used everywhere. China uses Didi Chuxing, Indonesia uses Go-Jek, and so on. But, at the end of the day, Uber and Singapore-based GrabTaxi are the two apps I always keep on my phone as they appear to be used in more places than any of the more local apps.
20. LonelyPlanet Guides — Free
I used to read LonelyPlanet travel guides for fun when I was a kid (I was a fun kid, I know). But their free app gives a great overview of most places so that I can sound like a seasoned tour guide to my girlfriend when we walk through Masada in Israel.
21. CouchSurfing — Free
A lot of people use Couchsurfing for free lodging. I don’t. But I do love the community. When I get to a new city, I check the event calendar for meetups or, if I’m bored, open up the “hangouts” feature to meet up with locals. If you want to make new friends in a strange city, it’s never been easier.
22. Airbnb — Free
Despite my recently published misgivings about Airbnb, it’s still my most-used booking app while traveling. If you’ve got a tight budget, Airbnb is probably the best bang for your buck outside of a hostel.
23. Booking.com — Free
Booking.com is creeping up in my usage, however. They’ve got tons of apartment listings on their app now, perks for heavy users (like me), and a dead-simple, attractive interface.
24. HotelTonight — Free
I use HotelTonight when I need a break from the barebones places I usually book on Airbnb and Booking. The app is best when you are booking only a day or two in advance. You can usually find great deals on very expensive hotels if you like flying by the seat of your pants, as they say.
24. Mobile Passport — Free
I will never understand why anyone traveling outside of the US doesn’t have this app downloaded. Officially authorized by US Customs and Border Protection, the app lets you upload your passport and fill out forms on your phone so you can skip to the front of the customs line.
26. PriorityPass — Free
The app is free, but you’ll need a PriorityPass membership. I got mine as a perk through my Chase Sapphire Reserved credit card. It’s been a life saver. While the US lounges are nothing special, the international lounges have made airports a joy. Free food and alcohol, showers, and a clean, peaceful place to relax before a flight.
27. Skyscanner — Free
Still my favorite travel booking app for one feature and one feature only: Everywhere. The app lets you leave the arrival point as “Everywhere,” showing you the cheapest flights from your point of departure. The source of a dozen impromptu vacations.
28. Trip.com — Free
I got hooked onto using Trip.com while in China. It’s owned by Chinese company CTrip and, while that company’s website is janky, Trip.com’s app interface is super smooth. I always check here for deals on flights and hotels.
31. YouNeedABudget – $6.99/month
You’ve probably tried Mint, used it for a while, and now do your budgets on a napkin. Okay, that was me. YNAB, as users call it, is the most comprehensive budgeting app I’ve encountered. It helps you account for where you want your dollars to go, not just where they’ve already gone. And you’re paying money for it, so they don’t sell your data to the Internet, unlike Mint.
32. WikiLoc — Freemium
This is a must-have for hikers and outdoorsmen. People track, upload, and review their hikes. You can follow their trails if you want so you don’t get lost, but I prefer to use it to get a feel for the difficulty level and natural splendor on different hikes. I usually only have time in a place for one or two hikes. It helps me pick wisely.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.