I have been using a bunch of different apps during my time abroad, some of which I hadn’t heard of before getting here and some of which I didn’t realize how crucial they would be. Below is an overview of 8 apps that I highly recommend you download before leaving for your trip. While I specifically wrote these with a student studying abroad in Rome in mind, they can be beneficial for all study abroad students or travelers in general.
I spoke about Citymapper in a previous post called “Study Abroad Essentials” so I won’t go into too much detail but it is a great navigation app that will show you several different options for how to get somewhere. It will show you all possible routes if you were to walk, take trams, metros, busses, taxis, or even scooters. It has worked great in most of the cities I have been to and I plan on using it once I get back to the US.
Most people are familiar with and probably have Venmo now. I had an account before coming here but didn’t really use it. Any time my friends and I go out either to eat or do something, it is often easier for one person to pay and the rest of us Venmo them our portion. I do suggest you get and set up Venmo before going abroad because if you are getting a local phone number, you may not be able to set up an account using that number.
This is the taxi app that is most commonly used in Rome. While we primarily take public transportation, we have occasionally run into a situation where we have had to take a taxi somewhere. Additionally, the main taxi app used varies based on the city, and we had to get a different taxi app when we were in Florence. You can find out what the primary taxi app is in a city with a quick Google search.
In the US, using WhatsApp isn’t very common but in Europe, it is the main way that they communicate. Also, because you will likely have a local SIM card, you won’t be able to text your family like you normally would and I recommend using WhatsApp to talk to them using data.
Omio is an app you can use to find train and bus tickets for longer trips, like multiple-hour trips to another city. The two train companies in Italy are Trenitalia (a public company) and Italo (a private, and typically more expensive company) and I recommend that you book the tickets directly through their websites because Omio charges an additional fee but Omio is good for comparing prices between the two companies as well as showing different options you have for how to get somewhere. For example, the pictures below show the cost of train tickets from Trenitalia and Italo as well as bus prices. And while the bus is the cheapest option, it takes over 7 hours.
Deliveroo is the food delivery app that we use most often. There are several other options but we all prefer Deliveroo. They sometimes run promotions where there is no delivery fee and other times you just have to spend a certain amount and then the delivery is free. The app is very easy to use.
We use Airbnb to book most of our accommodations on our weekend trips. It is typically cheaper than a hotel and we can find somewhere that specifically suits our needs. For example, the medieval castle we stayed at in Tuscany. It ended up being much cheaper than places in Florence and we really enjoyed it.
8. Google Translate
While most people speak English in Rome and many of the menus have English on them, you will likely run into some point when you will need to translate something. Even if you are just walking down the street and are curious about what something says, you can take out your phone and find out. There was a Grey’s Anatomy advertisement near a tram stop I was at and I wanted to know what it said. Using my minimal Italian knowledge, I was able to translate the phrase “un nuovo domani, oggi” to “a new tomorrow, today” which I thought was unusual so I checked it on Google translate and I was correct. It is also helpful in the grocery store because you are able to take pictures of labels and it will translate for you.
I hope this list of apps was helpful and I wish you luck in your future travels!
A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:
The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.