Knowledge Pack

Travel apps that help with languages and expenses

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Travel can be a hassle at the best of times. We review apps that will teach you to speak the local language and handle your expenses.

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It's hard enough to hit the ground running when you've got a series of business meetings in a remote location, but you've also got to deal with airports, hotels and getting around an unfamiliar place, among other things. What could possibly go wrong? Let's see ...  

Well, there are long security lines, missed connections, delayed or cancelled flights, lost hotel reservations, buggy Wi-Fi, noisy neighbors in the room next to yours, a dead smartphone battery, and a wide range of other possible glitches. And this is all complicated even more if you're traveling to a foreign country.

However, there are apps that can help.

First, let's say you're traveling to another country. You leave your hotel, flag down a taxi, and suddenly have the unpleasant realization that the driver is not very fluent in your language. You can try and use sign language, or write down the address and hope that he can read your handwriting. Or you can prepare yourself by spending a few hours beforehand learning the language of the country you're visiting -- or learning a few vital phrases so you can get around.

We tested five foreign language learning apps to find out how easily they introduce users to a brand new language.

MosaLingua, for instance, employs flashcards as the basis for its lessons. You select how many flashcards you want to work with, then progress from Flashcards to Listen and Pronounce, Memorize and Write. Finally, you work through a self-evaluation of how well you've memorized the all flashcard material you initially selected for that learning period. A nice aspect of MosaLingua is that you can either allow the app to move you through the lessons or you can dig around in various categories and come up with your own learning program.

While you may not become fluent in a short time, with the help of one of these apps, you could learn enough to direct that taxi driver to your important business meeting.

Okay, everything has gone well, and you're back in the office -- with a pile of receipts and the doleful task of putting all your expenses together in order to submit them to Accounting. If you used one of the seven expense tracking apps that we include in this roundup, things would be a lot easier. They allow you to record your expenses as you go and produce a neat accounting of them when you get home; in addition, some let you take photos of your receipts or can even be used by your company to standardize their expense forms.

For example, Abukai comes with a variety of formats to fit corporate expense needs, and also offers individualized features for companies, such as designing specialized reports and forwarding them to the appropriate staffers. And Expensify is a cloud-based expense tracker and reporters that offers both personal and business versions with a variety of feature sets.

Either way, these mobile apps can make your business travel just a little less stressful -- allowing you to keep your mind less on your travel and more on your business. 

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