Helpful International Travel Apps

Our family of four loves traveling abroad and as a Mom, I’m always looking for tools and solutions to make our travels easier and smoother and our experiences more memorable. I often turn to apps on my iPhone as a cheap (often free, actually) and easy resource. Here is a sampling of my favorite ones when it comes to traveling internationally.

Free Travel Apps

TripAdvisor
In case you are not already familiar with it, this is a very useful tool for planning your trip or looking for great ideas while traveling. Utilizing a vast pool of reviews and opinions (75+ million!) from fellow travellers, this app makes it easy to find the best hotels, restaurants or fun things to do. The flight search function helps you find and book airfare deals, but you can also make hotel and restaurant reservations. You can search by price, location or rating and in case you have a specific question, you are able to post it in a forum to get the inside scoop. A must have for any family Travel Director!

TripIt Travel Organizer
Helps you store and access your travel itinerary in one place for peace of mind when traveling. Forward your confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com and they are instantly recognized and saved to an itinerary on your iPhone or your iPad. A 2011 “Best Travel Mobile App” Webby Award winner.

WhatsApp Messenger
A must-have for quick communication with your friends and family while you are abroad! This app lets you message other smart phone users, who also have the app, from anywhere in the world – for free! Perfect for sending a quick text that you arrived as planned, sending a picture to family members left behind to show them how much fun you are having on your trip, or even finding members of your party in the crowded Louvre Museum.

Skype
This one probably needs no introduction. It is most known for enabling free video calling, but  you can also use it for free instant messaging or voice calling.

Google Translate
Ever found yourself in a foreign country, unable to speak the language and trying to get around to experience the local scene? This app helps you translate words and phrases between more than 60 languages. For most languages it even allows you to speak your phrases and hear the corresponding translations. Worried about cell reception? Look up useful phrases before you leave your hotel and you can access them later, offline. Voila!

XE Currency
Easily convert every world currency whether you are shopping at the elegant stores in Milano or bargaining for a deal on a souvenir on a beach in Mexico. In addition to the converter, the app has live currency rates and charts, which refresh every minute, but the latest updates are stored so you can access them later with no internet connection.

Free Wi-Fi Finder
Helps you instantly find FREE Wi-Fi internet hotspots wherever you are in the world, online or… offline, as is often the case when you are actually looking for an internet connection! Need I say more?

Inexpensive Travel Apps

World Countries ($0.99)
Looking to learn more about the country you are visiting? This great app, actually 19 geographic apps in one, will come very handy! Use it to find all kinds of interesting and useful facts about any of the world’s countries (its capital, population, currency, time zones, calling code, major holiday and much more), maps (current and historical), pictures and lists of famous places. To help you kill time on the plane or relax at your hotel, there are even geography related games such as Guess the Flags or Flags Memory Match.

Local Eats ($0.99)
This Travel & Leisure recommended app lets you type in the city and type of cuisine you are after and then instantly filters results to best match what you are looking for. You can also find menus, book reservation or even a taxi. The only limitation is that the app is limited to major cities.

City Maps 2Go ($1.99)
Can you imagine traveling without great maps? How convenient to have them on your iPhone or iPad vs. the large and vulnerable paper form. This map app allows you to download 7,800 world maps. No network or WiFi required!

FlightTrack – Live Flight Status Tracker by Mobiata ($4.99)
It might seem a bit pricey compared to the three listed above, but this very useful app lets you check flight status, gate information, flight delays or cancellations and more – for over 1,400 international airlines. The flight sharing email lets your friends and family track your flight online. If you upgrade to FlightTrack Pro ($9.99), you can also sync your TripIt itineraries and receive push alerts on delays and flight changes.

Planning a Broadway Show Weekend in NYC

New York City is one of those destinations that everyone should explore at least once in their lives. Brimming with things to do, the Big Apple is full of sights and sounds as the city that never sleeps. Planning a weekend to see Broadway shows in NYC, the home of countless theater performances of all varieties, is the perfect base to build a magical NYC weekend for mother daughter or family trips.

The trick to a mother-daughter weekend in this gigantic metropolis is coming to terms with the fact that you cannot do everything. There are so many things to do in New York City that your best option is to prioritize what sights or experiences you want to have and then plan on returning to the Big Apple in the future for more.

Where to Stay for an NYC Broadway Show Weekend
Our weekend was spurred by wanting to see Annie the Musical, one of the newest Broadway shows in New York City. Perfect for an eight year old musical fan, we planned our weekend with Broadway as our home base, fanning out into the city, so it made sense to make Broadway home base for the weekend.

There is no better place to stay than Hilton Times Square. Located steps from the theaters, this high rise hotel serves up the New York City skyline like it is candy amidst the clouds.

For my daughter who had never been to the city, looking out of our window towards the Empire State Building and beyond was something she could not get enough of. Every window – on the lobby level, getting off the elevator, and in our room – was a source of fascination to see what new perspective could be seen. Particularly fascinating to eight year old inquiring minds are the stunning New York roof top balconies, atriums, or terraces that can only be seen from high above and that only helped solidify the idea of glamour and elegance for a budding fashionista tween.

Planning a Broadway show weekend in NYC - Stay at the Hilton Times Square
The view from the Hilton Times Square over NYC.

Picking a Broadway Show for Kids in NYC
There are so many Broadway shows to choose from in New York City. We started our Broadway trip with Annie. Seeing Annie the Musical lived up to every single one of our expectations. The cast, the music, the experience were everything a girl would think of for her first trip to Broadway in NYC. Right around the corner from the theater, we had a perfect pre-theater meal at Dervish Mediterranean Restaurant and Bar which made it incredibly convenient to eat and be in our theater seats in plenty of time. During our second night we saw Mamma Mia the Musical, another one of our favorites. Certainly, seeing evening Broadway shows with kids makes for a long day, but being able to walk back just a few steps to our hotel made the late night that much easier.

Tip: If you’re not sure exactly which Broadway show you want to see and don’t have tickets that you’ve already purchased in advance, stop by the TKTS booth in Times Square to purchase same-day tickets for up to half-off the regular price.

Other Things to Do in New York City with Kids
If you can pull your daughters away from the view, there is an entire city to be explored easily from the steps of Hilton Times Square. We are walkers, so our pedestrian adventure included window shopping along the iconic Fifth Avenue where we perfected the art of dreaming about jewels and fashion. From the American Girl Place to Rockefeller Center, to each and every store window in between, walking along Fifth Avenue with your daughter is an incredible way to get inside your tween’s brain as they revel in what they are seeing.

Our walking feet took us all the way to Central Park, another must see destination in New York City. Tired feet and a love of all surprises made for very happy passengers as we took a twenty minute Carriage Ride through Central Park. Under a warm blanket, the carriage ride through the park that is large enough to be its own city, we saw the Central Park Zoo, fields, New Yorkers running or cycling and more.

If you're going to see Broadway shows in NYC, why not take a carriage ride, too?
Taking a Carriage Ride Through Central Park.

The good news about our mother-daughter girls weekend trip to New York City was that my daughter loved the city just as much as I do, which means that we will be returning hopefully very soon. After all, we still have more Broadway shows to see and the many museums in NYC that are perfect for a budding creative tween girl.

Hilton Mom Voyage writers receive free night certificates to use at Hilton Hotels & Resorts worldwide. To learn more, visit our About Us page.

Know Before You Go

  • Opt for walking tours instead of bus tours if you want to eliminate the issue of traffic – just make sure to pack comfortable shoes!
  • If you bring your own ice skates, Bryant Park allows you to ice skate for free in the winter.
  • The Bronx Zoo is pay-what-you-wish on Wednesdays.
  • Utilize the New York Subway to travel like a local – it’s also a great way to avoid traffic!