6 apps to boost your travel skills

Kara Santos

Posted at Mar 29 2020 04:56 PM | Updated as of Mar 30 2020 12:45 PM

MANILA -- Summer break and Holy Week vacation plans have to be shelved for now while we all wait out the quarantine imposed because of COVID-19. For those who are lucky enough to be safe in their homes, aside from bingeing on Netflix shows, the extra time can still be used productively.

Why not take this downtime to gain new travel skills or knowledge for future trips? Here are a few apps you might want to consider downloading to pass the time at home while learning something new.

1. Duolingo

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Duolingo is a fun and free app that "gamifies" foreign language learning to help increase your communication skills. Pick from over 30+ different languages including Korean, Japanese, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, Greek and English.

Users can improve vocabulary and grammar skills by answering questions and completing lessons. The app starts with basic verbs, phrases, and sentences, and you can eventually learn new words daily.

According to app developers, 34 hours of Duolingo is roughly the equivalent of a semester of university-level education.

2. Backpacker: Travel Trivia

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Backpacker is an educational trivia game featuring cities, landmarks and popular tourist spots around the world. The player saves up money to travel by answering travel trivia questions, going on various missions and applying for odd jobs.

While many downloadable games are just for fun, those random travel facts might actually teach you a thing or two about the travel destinations. You also get the satisfaction of completing a memento collection and gathering tokens from each city virtually.

3. Elements of Photography

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For some people, photography is a huge part of travel. Most people wouldn’t want to travel without being able to get good landscapes and souvenir shots. You can start practicing your photography and photo editing skills right now even in the comforts of your own home.

Apps like Elements of Photography offer a comprehensive app that will get you out of “Auto mode” and teach you the photography basics for DSLRs. You can also use the time to really study the manual settings on your smartphone to use it better in the future.

This is also a great time to edit and finally upload those previous travel photos you’ve taken. Practice enhancing old travel photos with photo editing apps like Lightroom, Snapseed and VSCO, some of which have useful built-in online tutorials.

4. Loop Habit Tracker

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Good time management skills are essential to trip planning and keeping schedules when you travel. If you don’t plan properly, you might find yourself stuck with extended layovers and dead time with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Poor time management could also leave you trying to cram in as many destinations and sights or missing important connections.

Many people find themselves unproductive at work or at home because we just can’t shake our bad habits. Loop Habit Tracker makes it easier to form productive rituals by setting goals.

You can access dozens of preset “recipes” of behaviors that you must repeat on a daily basis. Sticking to a schedule, learning to prioritize, focusing on one task at a time and trying to minimize distractions can be habit-forming. Over time, these behaviors should become second nature and help you manage your time better when you do get to travel.

5. Insight Timer

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There are many aspects of travel that are often beyond our control like delayed flights, terrible traffic, unfavorable weather in our destinations and more that can ruin the best made travel plans.

One way to handle stress and anxiety in a healthy manner is by calming yourself down through meditation. Studies have shown that meditation can really improve concentration and attention, relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression, and pain.

Insight Timer is a free smartphone app and online community for meditation that features a social platform with lively discussion groups and local meetings run by its users. You can listen to soothing sounds, music, or guided meditations posted by contributing experts.

6. Seek

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Seek is an innovative app that harnesses the power of image recognition technology to identify plants and animals around. Created by National Geographic and the California Academy of Sciences, this app takes people outside and connects them with nature.

Through the app, you can identify wildlife and plants, earn badges for spotting different types of birds, amphibians, plants, and fungi and participate in monthly observation challenges with Our Planet on Netflix.

Test it out in nearby surroundings first like your garden. The knowledge about the organisms all around you could come in handy for future trips and hopefully inspire users to respect nature and care for the environment more when they travel.