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5 Essential Translation Apps for Overseas Travel

Don't get lost in the shuffle. These apps will help you get around and make good with the locals.
July 11, 2012

Fraternizing with the locals in any country can be difficult, especially if you are unaware of their customs, language and etiquette. These apps offer translation by voice, text or photo, while also filling you in on the dos and don’ts of local culture so you can mingle without being the town fool.

1. Jibbigo ($4.99 per language). It doesn’t get much easier than this. With this app, available on both iPhone and Android, all you need to do is speak into the device in your language, and it will spit back out a translation in the language you want via text and voice back at you. Jibbigo offers more than 10 different language pairs, and it does require you to purchase a separate app for each language. The app has more than 40,000 words in its word vocabulary, and it doesn’t require a network connection, which makes it perfect for the frugal traveler on the go.

The similar Google Translate is free, but roaming charges will add up the longer you use the app.

2. Dean Foster's Culture Guides Dean Foster's Culture Guides are currently available for 12 countries. With these apps, you not only get an overview of the country you are in, but also practical and usable tips, such as maps, weather reports and currency exchange rates. Added features include customary greetings and dining etiquette, typical dress and cultural values.

3. International Business Etiquette (Free). This Web-based app offers a basic and general introduction to more than 75 countries, with quick tips for business, dining, gift and meeting etiquette. Simply scroll through a list of countries, clustered by continent, and you can easily access the guides on the fly. It also offers links to a currency converter, the country dialing code and the time zone.

4. Word Lens (basic app, free; each language, $4.99). Don’t want to type something out just to have it translated? With Word Lens, your camera does the legwork. Be it a street sign, menu or brochure, this app translates it for you based on what it reads. So far, it includes English to Spanish, French and Italian and vice versa.

5. Tap-Translate ($9.99). Found a really great website, but it's not in your native tongue? This app translates phrases, paragraphs and full websites with the tap of a finger. It will even speak back the translation to you.

What translation apps do you use?

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