We live in day and age powered by technology, but often it is not used to its full potential. While travel is often associated with “unplugging”, a big move can be made so much easier with the help of a few apps. I will even go so far as to say: cell phones are the most important travel tools we have.
When we make the leap and move abroad, they act as our connection to family when homesickness strikes, our tour guide when we need to navigate our new city, our travel dictionary when we need to translate, our social support system when we’ve unpacked and are struck with the realization that we have few – or no – friends close by.
Now, there are plenty of arguments against apps and technology. It is true that they can take you out of the moment or provide a screen to hide behind in social situations, preventing you from making human connections. They can anchor you to your old life and old relationships, hindering the personal growth that stems from living somewhere new. These arguments are all valid. Face-to-face conversations are the best way to make friends, the best way to make memories, to learn and grow.
However, living in a new country can be overwhelming! Swedish people can be reserved, the language can be confusing, the cities cold and challenging to navigate. Sometimes we need a technological life-line. We deserve all the support we can get!
Below is the list of my go-to apps for surviving Sweden. I hope that you find them as useful as I did.
This is, hands down, the best travel app to take with you. Maps.me is a mapp app that shows your location as well as the attractions, restaurants, shops, train stations, etc, in your area. Better yet, it works offline. Never get lost in your new city again.
Frequently, I feel stranded, standing in a grocery store without my boyfriend at my side to translate. Ingredient lists, dietary restrictions or a simple ingredient search can be a hassle if you have yet to perfect the language. Luckily, google translate allows you to download languages offline, so you can search without worrying about data. Download beforehand and pick up Swedish as you shop!
Flying out of Nykoping, Gothenburg and Stockholm airports, Ryanair has unbelievably cheap flights to the rest of Europe. When the long Swedish winter is getting you down, it can be nice to grab a weekend’s worth of new and exciting – without breaking the bank.
While not technically an app, Google Flights is my personal favourite website to search for flights. Better for flights home, this site allows you to look at flexible dates, locations and airports, showing you the best price for all.
This app is the best for real beginners to the country, before you get accustomed to the currency exchange rate. The app shows up to date exchange rates for any and every country in the world. Figure out what things actually cost and how much you are really spending.
Sweden is quickly becoming a cashless economy, and many things are settled through Swish. The app allows you to make bank transfers quickly and easily. It is often used by Swedes at small booths, informal shops, or as a way to split the cheque between friends.
Ten years ago, international calling was a major problem. Today, we have the luxury of free wifi-based phone calls and video chats. While iMessage and Facetime work well for iPhone users, Whatsapp is a great tool to stay in touch with all types of phones. Text, call or video chat for free. This helps keep on the grid before you get a Swedish number and is great for staying in touch with loved ones abroad.
This app is designed for travelers to find a free place to sleep while on the road – quite literally, a couch to crash on. However, the app has extended to include a “hangout” feature that allows you to connect with other users in your area. It can be hard to find users in smaller Swedish cities but when you come across one you are almost guaranteed an open-minded adventurer like yourself.
This app is used by employers in Sweden and can help you connect with potential employment. Linkedin also has a feature to narrow the search for jobs that accept migrants and non-fluent Swedish speakers. Using the hashtag #welcometalent , Linkedin allows you to filter for jobs open to us – the Newbies to Sweden!
My phone is my most constant companion and my most reliable travel buddy, my comfort when I get homesick and my guide when I am lost and alone. More than anything, it is a tool and deserves to be used as such. Happy downloading!