13 Best Apps For Study Abroad Students To Download

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Studying abroad today is more accessible than it was even just a decade ago, but that doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park. There are still very real mental, physical, and social realities that can make studying abroad challenging for students, but thankfully technology has at least made some of those hurdles a little smaller. The best tool to have at your literal finger tips is your smartphone, and on that smartphone, dedicated apps for study abroad students.

Of course, you don’t NEED a smartphone or dedicated phone apps for study abroad students to have a good experience. But it does help. And life is hard enough as it is – take the less stressful path as often as you can. Work smarter not harder.

That said.

I will be the first to admit – it’s been a while since I was a study abroad student. In fact…I…I don’t even think I had an iPhone. Don’t get me wrong, it was back in 2012 – not the Stone Ages – but I was just reluctant to give up my reliable non-smartphone that I’d had all throughout my high school and early undergrad days.

RIP to my orange LG enV, and the “Surviving High School” game that LITERALLY was the only reason I survived middle school and high school. You will forever live on in my heart. <3

Anyways, back to the point, I haven’t personally studied abroad in a minute, but I still want to provide y’all with some helpful resources so I reached out to my friend Kaylee from Bucket List Travel to brainstorm our favorite apps for study abroad students! Let’s go Kaylee!!

Admin Apps for Study Abroad Students

We’re going to start off this post sharing apps for study abroad students that made our every day lives easier. If you’re a new study abroad student, then hopefully your on-site advisor will be helping you deal with the admin tasks of getting your local bank account opened, a SIM card activated, and housing arrangements set up. If not…then you have a bad advisor.

I did too tho, so good news is that you’ll survive. The bad news is that its a headache trying to wrangle any sort of help out of them.

Some things you can do from your end though, to make daily tasks like grocery shopping and communicating in your new surroundings simpler, is to download these life admin apps for study abroad students.

1- Google Translate

Yes yes yes, Google Translate is a quintessential companion for any global traveler in GENERAL, but is also one of the best apps for study abroad students as well. Especially since 8/10 there’s going to be some level of language barrier in your new temporary home.

Google Translate is powerful because not only can it turn typed words from one language to another, but it also handles spoken language and even images, making street signs and menus less intimidating. EMPHASIS on the image translation!

The recent addition of ‘conversation’ mode allows for real-time, translated chats, a gamechanger when trying to communicate your needs to taxi or bus drivers, or if you’re looking for something specific in a store. While it may not convey the subtlest shades of meaning, it’s a lifeline for understanding and being understood in another language.

2 – WhatsApp

Many of you may already be familiar with WhatsApp, but if not, allow me to introduce you to one of the best communication apps for study abroad students. As the name suggests, WhatsApp is a free social messaging app, letting you text, call, voice note, or video chat with anyone around the world without incurring international fees.

You know, as long as the only folks also have WhatsApp.

It’s also handy for staying in contact with your new best friends, aka your study abroad cohort. Y’all will be arranging meetups, study groups, and travel plans…and not everyone will have an iPhone with WIFI-friendly messaging.

The new WhatsApp Pay feature also makes sending money as easy as sending a text, incredibly handy when splitting bills with fellow travelers. And with end-to-end encryption, you
can have peace of mind knowing your conversations and transactions are secure.

3 – VPN

And speaking of security…you’re gonna want to invest in a GOOD VPN service. If you’ve never used a VPN before, it stands for virtual private network and VPNs establish a digital connection between your computer and a remote server owned by a VPN provider which encrypts your personal data, masks your IP address, and lets you sidestep website blocks and firewalls on the internet.

Basically, a VPN hides your digital thumbprint that would otherwise reveal your location (IP address – where you are accessing the internet from), your personal data that you may be using online (email addresses, phone numbers, credit card info, messages etc etc).

In layman’s terms, instead of driving on an open highway where people (like a hacker) would be able to see you, using a VPN would mean you’re driving in a tunnel. So even when you’re at home, it’s safer to use a VPN any time you’re on a public WiFi network (coffee shops, libraries, etc). If you don’t care about all that, okay, but another good reason to invest in a VPN is that many streaming services are blocked in other countries.

YEAH THATS RIGHT KISS THE NEW SEASON OF SELLING SUNSET GOODBYE

Unless…you have a VPN. Then you can switch your “digital” location to your home location and still be able to watch your shows. I bet you didn’t know CrunchyRoll was blocked in Japan, did you? It also works in reverse so if you’re an American obsessed with Love Island UK you can finally keep up on time and not have the whole season spoiled on Twitter.

It’s a personal choice which VPN you ultimately go with, but I personally like NordVPN. It’s fast, reliable, AND works in China.

4 – My Currency Converter

Hiiii, my name is Kay and I’m terrible at math. Or really anything involving numbers. As someone who is ALREADY bad with money management and budgeting, the constant change of currency and currency conversion is actually the bane of my existence.

Thankfully, technology has my back on this one. And all of our backs, really. One of my top recommended apps for study abroad students (and anyone traveling) is to use a currency converter app, and my favorite is My Currency Converter.

My Currency Converter is a simple, user-friendly solution. It updates in real time, providing you with an accurate conversion rate no matter where you are. It has over 150 different currencies from all around the world, and even supports BitCoin, LiteCoin and Dogecoin.

5 – Flush Toilet Finder

Listen…it might sound silly…

Until you desperately need it.

Flush Toilet Finder discreetly points you to the nearest public restrooms, so you never have to dash around a foreign city like a panicked crab clutching your butt cheeks. It also includes reviews of the public restrooms, if there is a fee, and which are ADA accessible. Super helpful for all my folks traveling with a wheelchair or other mobility device!

Finding a public restroom was one of the hardest things for Kaylee when studying abroad in Europe, and lemme tell ya Latin America can be just as tricky (especially when it comes to PAYING for public restrooms).

Toilet Finder works offline and is a niche app but one that pays off in relief a hundred times
over. Especially for us with questionable gut health…yeah pull up this app before you order that extra spicy noodle from a street food vendor.

6 – Smart Traveler

For all of you “JUST IN CASE WORST SCENARIO” travelers, Smart Traveler is one of the best apps for study abroad students (and their parents/guardians) who always need info on who to contact and where to go when some real s*** pops off.

Or…yanno, if you lose your passport.

Sadly only available to US citizens (and green card holders), the Smart Traveler app keeps you up to date with travel advisories and news from the U.S. State Department, ensuring you stay safe and informed while overseas. It provides quick access to all U.S. embassy info, be it for emergencies, replacing passports, assisting injured or sick travelers, or even facilitating marriages, births, and adoptions (dang, y’all doin a lot more than studying!!).

So it really is an all-encompassing security blanket app.

7 – TravelSpend

Studying abroad can be expensive, especially when picking a program in Europe. But thankfully TravelSpend is one of the best apps for study abroad students and travelers to help keep wallets on a budget. The app helps you track your expenses easily, so you always know where you stand…or if you’ll be eating beans and rice for the next few days in order to make that €2 flight to Venice with your cohort friends.

It pays (no pun intended) to be responsible with your money from the jump because technically, as a study abroad student, you do not have a work visa and are not *supposed* to work for profit while you are abroad. However, if you find some under-the-table gig…………

Travel Apps for Study Abroad Students

For those of you not familiar to navigating outside of your hometown/state/country, then you’ll definitely want to download these following navigation apps for study abroad students. Getting lost is already not fun, and adding school on top of that?

Fo’gettaboutet.

8 – Google Maps

Where would we be without Google Maps?

Lost, probably.

Google has charted nearly every corner of the world (except China), offering not just directions but also reviews, photos, videos, and information about locales. So…yeah maybe this one might seem like one of the more obvious apps for study abroad students, but it also has a few extra features!

For trip planning, you can create custom maps (under “My Maps”) can be a dream for plotting and tracking your adventures. Using My Maps is actually how I plan my travel itinerary. You can also download an “offline map” of a destination so you will still be able to navigate the area without cell service or WIFI connection. It comes in handy, especially on road-trips!

9 – Rome2Rio

Uber and Lyft are my favorite transportation apps, simply due to its convenience. Unfortunately, the rideshare apps that we love and know at home are not always readily available to use in other countries. Which brings me to one of the golden navigation apps for study abroad students: Rome2Rio!

Rome2Rio can conjure up the most logical and efficient connections between any two locations in the world. and that includes taking into account trains, buses, and even flights. The transportation options are listed with times and approximate prices, giving you a game plan for your travels before you even step out the door.

However, Rome2Rio is just a starting point, so I encourage you to take the apps recommendation and do some of your own research on the route (there is usually at least one blog post out there on any obscure travel thing – bless travel bloggers!!)

10 – Hostelworld

Chances are, as a student, you’ll probably want to go ahead and download Hostelworld. When socializing and budgeting go hand in hand, it’s often in a hostel.

Hostelworld is one of the best lodging apps for study abroad students because it lists a large array of hostels, B&Bs, and budget hotels. The app also shows verified user ratings and reviews so you can know if you’re actually getting (or not getting) what you pay for.

Hostelworld also offers experiences and activities that you can join during your travels. From
city tours to pub crawls, this app helps you meet fellow travelers and make unforgettable
memories. So don’t be afraid to book that hostel room and start connecting with people from all over the world. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make some lifelong friends along the way.

That said, if you’re traveling on a REAL shoestring budget as a student, I’d recommend also downloading the app Couchsurfing. While couch surfing, or staying on some rando’s couch for free, is not for EVERYONE, it is one of the more budget accommodation apps for study abroad students with limited funds. Check out my couchsurfing guest tips if you’re interested in trying it out for yourself!

11 – CheapOair

For the thrifty student explorer, CheapOair can be a gateway to affordable globetrotting. This
app scours the web for the best deals on flights, hotels, and car rentals, offering up notifications for great deals on places students are likely to frequent too.

Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or a semester-break excursion, this is one of the best budget flight apps for study abroad students that can help you make the most of your new “home” airport without breaking the bank. As a student, your travel dates might be confided to weekends and school holidays, which already have inflated prices, so keep an open mind about destinations to get the best deal.

Hopper is also one of the most useful apps for study abroad students for knowing WHEN to buy those cheap flights, if you have a specific destination in mind (like flying home). On that note, depending on where you are studying, you might have an easier (or harder) time finding cheap flights, so also be sure to read my post about finding the cheapest flights for your specific situation!

12 – SmartGuide

SmartGuide is like having a knowledgeable friend give you a personal tour of your chosen
destination. In fact, if you’re more of a travel pantser instead of a travel planner (aka you just like to show up and go with the flow), then SmartGuide is one of the best travel apps for study abroad students looking to explore their new homebase and beyond.

With audio guides, offline maps, and in-depth travel information, you can learn local secrets and historical nuggets that guidebooks often miss. This app is perfect for the
curious and adventurous traveler looking to get off the beaten path and into the story of a destination.

13 – TripIt

And finally, lucky number 13. I want to close out this list of apps for study abroad students with TripIt, which makes travel planning -and keeping track of said planning- easy. Because trust, if you’re studying abroad, you will be traveling.

Well…unless you’re studying abroad as a STEM major and taking STEM classes in a second language like I was…

Or someone steals your passport and you don’t have enough money to get a replacement…

But I digress – hahah, I have stories for days. Anyways, TripIt is a planning app where you can import all of your flights, lodging stays, activities, and even restaurant targets during your trip and you can share the itinerary with friends that you’re traveling with so everyone can be on the same page with the trip details. You can also share it with your family and friends back home so they know where you are at all times (and you don’t have to answer the hourly ‘wyd’ text from your curious and/or bored parent).

Conclusion: Best Apps for Study Abroad Students

Hopefully, whether you’re packing now for your program or just like to plan ahead, this list of 13 of the best apps for study abroad students will help make your experience that much smoother. This is also a great list for the general traveler as well!

Only a few of these apps for study abroad students existed back in my school days, and they really would’ve revolutionized my quality of international student life. I want to thank Kaylee again for all of her help chiming in with some amazing apps for study abroad students, so be sure to check out her blog next!

If you’re a frequently traveler or have lived/studied/worked in another country, what other apps for study abroad students would you recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

Pin These Apps for Study Abroad Students

image: girl sitting on the grass studying in front of the london bridge. text: 13 must have apps for study abroad students

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