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7 essential apps for international road warriors

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal | July 16, 2014
I rarely take real vacations, but I do travel often. Since I'm a freelancer, my work can, and does, travel with me.


If you're traveling, you're probably spending a decent amount of money on things you normally wouldn't: hotels, food, and other incidentals. But if you're traveling for work, those costs could be expensed to your company — or tax-deductible if you're self-employed — so it's a good idea to keep track of them with Expensify.

Free for Android, iOS, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone, Expensify not only tracks expenses and creates expense reports, but also lets you track other variables (such as time and mileage), snap photos of receipts, and track bank and credit card transactions. Expensify works offline, too, so you don't have to worry about being connected to a network to use it.

Expensify is a lifesaver for people like me, who are terrible with paperwork. But even if you plan to save all your physical receipts and take them home with you, Expensify is still useful if you're traveling internationally. It's got a built-in currency converter, a trip manager (which you definitely won't need if you're already using TripIt), and real-time flight updates if you're connected to a network.

Word Lens

Although I didn't use Word Lens in Seoul (Korean is currently unsupported), it's still a great app for international travelers. Free for Android and iOS, Word Lens is an augmented reality app that uses your phone's camera to read text and translate it into different languages in real time. The app is currently in the process of being acquired by Google, and all language packs — which normally cost around $15 — are free until the acquisition is complete.

Word Lens offers language packs for English to Russian, Portuguese, German, Italian, French, and Spanish. It's not the greatest app if you want to translate a chunk of text, because the augmented reality can get a little confused — point Word Lens at a paragraph and you'll see words jumping all over the place. But it's perfect if you're looking to translate just one word.

And for those of you who don't think that's useful, it is, especially if you're traveling. Think map directions, train station exits, warning signs, the remote control in your hotel room, and on and on. Word Lens even helps if you're learning the language, because it's like an instant dictionary.


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