iTranslate: With 81 languages and dialects, this little diddy is necessary when you live amongst a slew of cultures, like Brussels. I always have this one handy at the grocery store. The guys at our local grocer, Colruyt, know me by now and if my “Où est la farine,” comes out strange with my accent, they point to the phone before pointing me to the flour. Just seeing the words typed helps clear up inflection ambiguities.
Convert Units: This one comes in handy mainly when we’re cooking or writing down ingredient quantities for shopping. Knowing the quick conversions come in handy for everyday things like..
> temperature :: C > F is double and add 30
> driving :: one mile is a little more than a kilometer and a half
> when your friends talk about baby weight :: one kilogram is a little more than double pounds
Google Maps: This is what we typically use for finding our way around. Also, I know some people prefer the built-in iPhone Maps app, which only gives you driving and walking directions. To get the public transport directions, I quite like the Transit app.
Shell Motorist: or the gas station of your choice. There are gas station apps that can help when you’re trying to be efficient with your gas tank. We use Shell, which locates any Shell station. It can find the nearest one to you and map the directions for whichever you choose. This one is usually used in emergency mode….because we think we’re fine until we’re not fine and need to find a station immediately!
3. BELGIUM SPECIFIC NAV
STIB mobile: Actually, Brussels specific. It lists every route number with the stops in each direction, with an estimation of where the bus/tram/metro is currently so you can gauge how long it’ll take to get to you (though, I never put too much trust in this function). You can also see a map of the nearby stops.
SNCB/NMBS: For longer train trips around the country. This App is all-encompassing for planning, booking, and checking your SNCB train trips throughout Belgium. I actually prefer to use this handheld rather than the web version.
Capital One 360: Because, money. Obviously. Money can be tricky abroad, especially when you get a random check from the US in the mail and have nowhere to deposit it. Snap a picture with their app and you’re all done – plus you can pretty much handle all aspects of your US account right from your phone.
Skyscanner: The facilitator of our unexpected travels. Whenever we know we want to get out of Brussels but aren’t exactly sure where we want to go, Skyscanner is there to sort out the cheapest flights to anywhere from a certain airport. Just put in your departure city and country, pick a date or a whole month and it’ll show you where you can get to for cheap!
TripAdvisor City Guides: Regular TripAdvisor is great too, but it’s the same as the web version. The City Guides app allows you to download the city beforehand, so that when you’re traveling, you don’t need wi-fi. There’s also this arrow function that actually points you to your highly rated dinner venue – that part’s our favorite.
Wi-Fi Finder: Save your mobile data and find the hotspots! We prefer a cafe and a bev with our wi-fi spots.. Don’t forget you’re asking for ‘wee fee’ in most European venues.
This one deserves a post on its own, but the main ones are..