Traveling to far off lands is an amazing experience -- well worth the money spent and long plane rides. Once you get on the ground, expressing yourself can be a bit of a challenge if you're unfamiliar with the native language, though. In this day in age, our phones are almost as good as the mythical Babel Fish, however, and there are a number of apps to help you figure out menus and get directions if need be. We've compiled a list of our favorite translation apps to serve as your personal interpretor on your next trip.
While Google Translate may have been the punchline of jokes for its robotic translation foibles in the past, the product has impoved significantly in recent years. While it's still not 100% natural -- it's incredibly difficult for machines to mimic human language patterns exactly -- it is a capable tool that can translate dozens of languages, including 52 offline if you don't have service or WiFi access. Google's added a camera feature so you can simply aim your lens at a sign and the service will translate it instantly, too.
Many countries use different alphabets entirely. If you happen to be visiting Chinese, Japanese, or Korean speaking countries Waygo can help you sort things out. Use your camera to translate signs in all three Japanese alphabets, Korean hangul, or Chinese characters. It's perfectly free and does a solid job. No more pointing and guessing when choosing from a menu.
This speech to text translator will help you communicate with folks in a different language by listening to a sentence and then displaying the translation on screen. The app can even interpret regional dialects and slang, and it eliminates the need to fumble with phrase books and dictionaries almost entirely.
TripLingo boasts both a voice and camera translator for an all-in-one service. What's more, the app includes cultural information on a country so you're up to date on social norms and etiquette. It also happens to be a great way to get a crash course in a language before you depart, with flash cards and quizzes to help solidify your vocabulary.
This is often considered the best app for voice translation, hands down. It's highly accurate and covers a wide range of languages, with the ability to choose between male and female voices. The app is even branching out into social media and services like iMessage, so you can translate on all of your favorite platforms.
The language barrier is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to traveling around the world, but these apps are beginning to make it a non-issue. Be sure to take at least one of these tools with you on your next adventure.
Share your must-have travel apps in the comments below!