10 Free Apps to download before you go

iphone apps
The Digital age is upon us and we now live in a world where everyone seems to have the internet in their pocket. You can update your Facebook status from a sailboat on the Mediterranean and tweet a Twitter update from Timbuctoo. We've all got email, Facebook, Twitter and games on our gadgets, but which apps are worthwhile? There are so many apps out there for iphones and ipads. Here are my favourite 10 free apps to download before you go which are especially useful for travellers.

1. Free Wi-Fi Finder
Let's be honest, however fantastic your gadget is, you're not going to get far without an internet connection and roaming is expensive. This app finds free Wi-Fi connections globally. It can do it using your GPS location or it can search by address, city or postcode (useful if you want to know how available the internet is at your next destination). The results are shown clearly on a map or a list. Great stuff.

2. XE Currency  
Ringgits? Dollars? Lira? Aargh! What's that in real money? I hear you say. The XE currency convertor application is very quick and simple to use. You enter the currencies you need converting to and from, then select the currency you need converting and enter the amount. The screen displays that amount in all the other currencies you chose. Snappy enough for shopping in any souk!

3. Convert units
Why is Europe metric but the USA still uses the imperial system? Why does the UK use a mixture of both? I can't tell you why, but this app will take away a lot of the conversion confusion. It opens to show two columns. Beneath them is a field dictating what you are converting (distance, mass, etc) Select the correct one and then in the left column above select the unit you need to convert and in the right column, the unit you wish it converted into. Use the number keys beneath to enter the amount. 

4. Google Earth
Are you naturally blessed with a sense of direction? If not and you're the type to get hopelessly lost instead, don't worry Google Earth will save you! Open the app and after a few seconds it traces your GPS position and shows you on the screen, with fantastic graphics and surprising detail. You can then zoom in and out to work out how to get back on track. There's a handy compass heading so you know which direction you are heading in too. 

5. Fit for Travel
This app has some handy information about which immunisations are recommended for global travel (probably best to check it out a few months before you go). You select the continent you will visit from the map and then the country. It was clearly written by someone whose mother tongue is not English, as occasionally something is phrased strangely, but if you apply a little common sense it is all comprehensible. The first time I opened it, it opened in German initially but by the second page was in English, but that's only a tiny problem (and only for non-Germans-speakers!)

6. First Aid Emergency Handbook
If you're planning to go somewhere really remote then you might be wise to do a First Aid course before going. You don't have to be somewhere dangerous for something to go wrong after all. But, that thought aside, this app gives clear information on what to do if you find yourself in an emergency situation. Scary thought - eh? This clever little app will even talk you through what to do. If you enter the country you're visiting into the app then it will also give you emergency services contact information. Reassuring to have, but here's hoping you never actually need to use it.

7. A News App
As proven by history, it is prudent to keep an eye on the country or region you are heading to ahead of arriving there. Even in places that are generally considered very stable the situation, if it is going to, can change quickly. You don't want to arrive in the middle of a natural disaster or a political coup. I haven't specifically recommended one news service app as there are so many out there. You may choose to use an international one, or you may choose to use one reporting on a specific region. For all I know you'll use a news app to follow what is going on at home. Whatever you use them for, keep an eye on the news whilst travelling and keep informed. It helps you keep safe.

8. Ultimate Camera Free
Obviously this is more relevant for an iphone user than an ipad user. The built-in camera on iphones is very basic. This app offers several handy features to enhance your photography including zoom, anti-shake, photography guides, date and time stamp, photo timer, multi shot, flash mode and sepia settings. You can also save photos at a higher quality setting. If you're taking photos, they might as well be as good as they can be. 

9. Adobe Photoshop Express
Your gadget has removed the need to carry a separate camera. This app removes the need for a computer in order to edit your photos. Features include crop, straighten, rotate, flip, colour adjustments, filters, effects and borders. Simple to use and it gives good results.

10. Pen My Blog
If you write a blog and intend to continue whilst on the road a blog writing app will make things simpler. My preference of all the free options is Pen My Blog. It is clearly laid out and simple. You can view several blogs (other free blog apps only load one) and it doesn't 'chew' your blog post (by this I mean throw all the formatting into wild disarray. This happened to me when I tried various other apps.) The only downside is that it doesn't show photos.

Those are my favourite 10 free apps for travellers. What are yours?

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