My 3 Favorite Travel Apps

Over the past five years, I have had the opportunity to travel to quite a few locations. Most of my travels have been here in the United States. But I have also traveled internationally, adding Italy, Colombia, and El Salvador to my list of countries I have visited for the first time.

I am obviously not an expert on travel, but I thought I would share with you a couple of my favorite travel apps.

Mobile Passport

On my way home from Colombia, I knew I was going to have to go through immigration at the San Francisco Airport. While on the plane, I quickly answered the few questions, scanned my passport, and took a photo. Once our plane landed, I submitted my form and made my way off the plane.

After I got off the plane and headed over to immigration, you should have seen the line! There were probably over 200 people waiting to go through immigration.

I found the line for the Mobile Passport, stood for a few minutes behind three other people, and was quickly in front of an agent.

I almost hesitate to share this with you, because it is a great little secret that I don’t believe most people are taking advantage of! The app is free and is advertised at most of the larger entry points for foreign travel back into the United States.

Google Translate

The thing I love about this app is the ability to have a language downloaded and available offline. This is especially helpful if you are not using your data while traveling.

The app lets you type in text in English, and then it will translate it into the language of your choice. You can also use your camera to translate typed or handwritten text, and record conversations to translate.

I have used this app in Mexico, El Salvador, Italy, and Colombia.

Since I am not proficient in Italian or Spanish, this app has helped me to have conversations with people who are not proficient in English. The translation is not always completely accurate, but it sure has come in handy!

My Currency Converter

Can’t figure out how to convert US dollars to Colombian Pesos? Or any other form of currency?

This app makes it super simple to figure out how far your US dollars with go while purchasing items in a foreign country.

Just type in the price of an item in the foreign currency and the app immediately lets you know what the price is in US dollars. You can also do a reverse of the currency also.

What are your favorite travel apps?

My 3 Favorite Travel Apps

Italy - Day Four

On this morning, we packed up our bags and left our little place in Rome to prepare for our next destination in Italy.

But first...

Cappuccino and croissant in Rome

Found another little cafe for our morning cappuccino and croissant. Out of the three so far, this one was my favorite. L'emporio alla Pace had a wonderful little atmosphere and really good cappuccino and croissants!

After our breakfast, we found a taxi and headed to the train station.

Train station destinations

Did I mention that we used all public transportation for this trip?

We did end up relying on taxis instead of buses, which is a bit more expensive. But it kept us away from larger crowds and the possibility of being nearer to pickpockets.

Thankfully, Lindsey booked most of our train tickets ahead of time, so we just had to make sure we got to the train station on time to catch our train each time!

The trains were fairly easy to navigate. There were big electronic signs, like the one above, all over the place. Just find the final destination for the train, and you can find the train you need to be on.

Today's destination...

Orvieto, Italy


The train station is at the bottom of this hill town. To get to the top, you need to get on the funicular.

Once we arrived at the top of the hill, we made our way further up the street to our AirBNB for the next couple of nights.

street in Orvieto

By this point, we were hungry, but not super hungry. So we found a little place to get a bite to eat.

pizza in Orvieto

We shared this pizza for 'lunch'. It was delicious!

One thing we noticed in this little town north of Rome, a lot of the people knew English, but it was helpful to have the Google Translate app on my phone.

After our 'lunch', we walked around the town and enjoyed the beautiful views of the surrounding countryside...

countryside around Orvieto

...and capturing some of the details of the buildings...

outside of a building in Orvieto

Another thing we found interesting here...for dinner, the restaurants do not open for dinner until at least 7:30 or 8pm! 

In Rome, I believe a lot of the restaurants cater to the tourists, so many of them are open earlier for dinner.

Since it was so cold, I really wanted a bowl of homemade Italian soup for dinner.

Here at home, the pasta e fagioli soup that I make has a tomato base.

But not in Orvieto...

Pasta e fagioli in Orvieto

I was able to find a recipe that is pretty close to what I had in Orvieto.

And then...

Dessert choices

Here is what I had for dessert...

Creme brulee

The atmosphere in the restaurant was super cozy...

Inside a restaurant in Orvieto

So if you ever find yourself in Orvieto, be sure to find this place...

Trattoria delli poggi

Trattoria Delli Poggi, you won't regret eating here!

Italy - Day Three

One thing I had to remember on this trip...I was not the only one traveling. In the past, I have been known to over schedule our travel days. Therefore, I couldn't make this trip all about what I wanted to do and every place I wanted to try to see while we were there.

Since we had a pretty full day before, I knew we needed to scale back and take things a bit slower on our second full day in Rome.

Can you even imagine how hard this was for me?!?

Anyway, we planned for a slow morning with an afternoon trip to the Vatican. We purchased tickets ahead of time online and walked to a cafe to get our morning cappuccino and croissant.

Our morning walk across the Tiber River

Our morning walk across the Tiber River

Typical breakfast in Rome

Typical breakfast in Rome

After our late breakfast, we started walking towards the Vatican.

Using our handy dandy Rick Steves' map

Using our handy dandy Rick Steves' map

We were told that it is best to go to the Vatican either very first thing in the morning, or wait until the afternoon. And plan on at least 2-3 hours.

I kind of had a feeling we would be there for more than two to three hours since this was the one thing on my husband's bucket list!

Look at all of these people! And this is in mid February!

Look at all of these people! And this is in mid February!

Once we entered the Vatican Museum, I was so glad we were there during the off season. Can't even imagine what the halls look like during the height of travel season!

We quickly passed by a lot of the statues and found a hall filled with tapestries.

Tapestry in the Vatican Museum
Details about one of the tapestries at the Vatican Museum

The detail on these tapestries was amazing! And look at when these were made, 1524-1531?!?

This one hall was lined with tapestries on both sides. One side depicted different things about the popes, which I really didn't even look at. The other side was all tapestries depicting the life of Jesus. The tapestries were enormous! The one I shared above is over 18 feet wide!

Hall in the Vatican Museum with maps of regions of Italy

The hall with all of the maps of regions of Italy was my favorite. Looking at all the detail, I am not sure how people can only spend two to three hours in this place!

Sign for the Sistine Chapel

We were finally getting closer to the Sistine Chapel!

The School of Athens in the Vatican

One thing I was disappointed about was learning that I would not be able to take any pictures of the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel! So I had to settle for taking photos of other paintings in the museum. The one above is a pretty famous one called The School of Athens by Raphael.

Once you exit the Vatican Museum, you have two choices. Enter St. Peter's Basilica is what most people do.

The other choice is to climb up inside the dome.

What choice do you think we made? Or rather, I made...

The dome inside St. Peter's Basilica

Once we got to this point, we thought this was as high as you go. This view in itself is pretty incredible.

But we quickly learned, there were more stairs to climb.

Stairs inside St. Peter's Basilica Dome

The final set of steps you go up before you are able to walk outside of the dome are a set of tight spirals with a rope for you to use for the 'hand rail'. That was interesting!

There might not be a better view of Rome...

View of Rome from the dome of St. Peter's Basilica

The trip down the stairs was much easier than climbing up all 500 or so steps to the top!

It was starting to get late in the afternoon and we were not sure how much later St. Peter's Basilica would be open, but we wanted to make sure to look around inside before we left here.

Pieta in St. Peter's Basilica

This...almost had me in tears. This is the Pieta by Michelangelo. What was going through Mary's mind as she was holding her beloved son and Savior after his death on the cross?

The outside of St. Peter's Basilica

Overall, I believe we spent over 5 hours here! I am so glad we didn't plan on trying to see too many things on this day.

By now, both of us were starving since we hadn't eaten anything since our cappuccino and croissants much earlier in the day.

We started our walk back across the Tiber River...

Tiber River in Rome

We found a place online to try, but getting there was a bit of a challenge.

Eventually, after walking past the restaurant, we found the place we were looking for!

Cantina E Cucina in Rome Italy

Cantina e Cucina...this place had some great reviews online, and there was a bit of a line. We started chatting with a couple of men who said this was a great place to eat. They live in England and travel to Italy for work. 

Can you even imagine that? Hoping on a plane and being in Italy in just a couple of hours?

Anyway, this is not the place to go if you are looking for a quiet dinner. It was an interesting set up inside with lots of seating for just two people. But the tables were really close together. We ended up chatting with the couples on either side of us. Which was actually kind of fun! 

And for dinner...

Dinner at Cantina e Cucina in Rome

I had pasta and my husband had pizza. Then for dessert...

Tiramisu at Cantina e Cucina in Rome

Tiramisu, again. Might as well compare it with the one I had the night before!

Have you ever been to Rome? If so, what was your favorite part of Rome?

Italy - Day Two

Before we started exploring Rome on our first full day in Italy, we had to go try an Italian cappuccino. After a quick search, I found one within walking distance (actually, a lot of places were within walking distance!)

Sant Eustacchio il Caffe in Rome Italy

Once we arrived and figured out where to order our cappuccino and pastry, we waited at the coffee bar for our order. Seating in this cafe was extra, so just enjoyed our first breakfast standing up.

Croissant and cappuccino in Italy for breakfast

This was amazing!! I could get used to having this for breakfast every day!

Now before I write much more, I have to warn you that these Italy posts will be photo heavy. I did take my Nikon DSLR, but honestly, it was so much easier to just capture images with my iPhone.

After we finished our breakfast, we attempted to get an Uber to take us over to the Colosseum. Let me just say, our GPS did not work very well while we were over there. So we didn't find the spot where we needed to get the Uber. We ended up just catching a taxi to help cut down on the amount of walking we would be doing.

The Colosseum

We did not purchase tickets ahead of time, so we stood in line to enter Palatine Hill first. 

Excavation at Palatine Hill

I loved seeing excavation work going on at Palatine Hill. I wonder how many items they still find in the area.

View of The Colosseum from Palatine Hill

All of the signs had Italian and English. Do you see the dates on this sign?

Structures in Palatine Hill

It is incredible how many structures are still standing in this area from almost 2000 years ago!

Inside The Colosseum

After spending quite a bit of time walking around Palatine Hill, we made it over to the line to enter The Colosseum. The sheer size of this building is overwhelming!

Cross engraved in The Colosseum

I tried to photograph some of the less photographed things I found while walking around inside The Colosseum.

Hearts in The Colosseum

How many hearts do you see in this wall?

Here we are inside The Colosseum

We even had someone take our photo!

By this time, it had been quite a few hours since our cappuccino and croissant.

Lunch in Italy

I don't even remember all that we ordered for lunch, which is why photos from almost six months ago are helpful! But I do know, since it was a bit cold outside, we did have another cappuccino.

Cafe Cafe in Rome

After we finished lunch, we started walking toward The Pantheon.

Imperial Forum

We walked by the Imperial Forum. Some of these walls and columns were constructed before Jesus was born!

The Pantheon

The Pantheon is one of the buildings I did not want to miss on our trip.

Inside The Pantheon

This was my best attempt to capture the inside of The Pantheon. It is mind blowing to think how they constructed the inside of the dome and this building!

Exploring the streets of Rome

As you can see, many of the streets in Rome are quite narrow and nothing like the modern streets we have in the United States.

Inside a church in Rome

Many of the churches in Rome are open to the public. I recommend walking inside a few of them to admire the elaborate details.

Trevi Fountain

We have heard that most people who travel to Rome, stop by Trevi Fountain to throw in a coin. Apparently, if you do this, you are guaranteed a return trip to Italy...that is if you believe in that kind of stuff.

Did we throw in a coin? You bet we did! We had to do what all of the other tourists do!

By this time, after walking who knows how many miles, it was time to find a place for dinner.

Time for dinner in Italy

We decided to give this place a try...

homemade gnocchi

...because they had homemade gnocchi on the menu!


Because we did so much walking, we ordered tiramisu for dessert, yum!

Unicorn Fruit Loops

Probably the strangest thing we saw on this day was these Unicorn Fruit Loops in the market. Too bad we didn't have room in our luggage to bring a box or two of these home!

Have you ever been to Rome? What is the strangest thing you have ever seen while out of the country?

Stay three of our trip will be coming soon!

Italy - Day One

If you have read my posts about our quick trip to the northeast, you might just be thinking this is becoming a travel blog.

Honestly, I wish it could be because I LOVE to travel!

If I had unlimited funds and time, I would love to travel as much as possible.

But since I can't, I am finally going to take some time to write about our time in Italy.

Especially since my last post about Italy was back in April...

Our first day in Italy wasn't even a full day, so I am not sure if I can really count it as day one, but I am going to anyway.

We landed in Rome around 3pm local time. Since we didn't check any bags, we didn't have to wait around for our luggage once we got off the plane. 

We made it to Rome!

We had to take a train into Rome from the airport. There are actually a few less expensive options to get from the airport into Rome, but we knew we didn't have a lot of daylight hours left on this day. And after a nine hour flight (and a nine hour time difference), we were ready to get outside and enjoy some of Italy!

Once we made it into Rome, we took a taxi to our AirBnB.

Outside our AirBnB in Rome

One thing I would highly suggest if you are going to take an international sure to add the international plan to at least one of your phones! We needed to call our AirBnB hosts at each location, and being able to check in with our kids gave me a bit of peace of mind as we were traveling so far away from home!

Anyway, once we got all checked in, our gracious host told us to head toward Campo de' Fiori and look for the Forno to find some really great Italian pizza!

Fresh flowers for sale at Campo de' Fiori

Fresh flowers for sale at Campo de' Fiori

Eating pizza in Italy!

After we finished eating our pizza, we walked along and across the Tiber River.

Tiber River in Italy
Views along the Tiber River in Italy
Many people out walking along the Tiber River at night
Tiber River in Italy
Goodnight Italy!

If my health app on my phone is accurate, we walked just under 3 miles on this day and got just a small taste of how beautiful Italy is!

Like I said, we didn't have a lot of time on our first day in Italy, but it was definitely enough to document it with a few photos!

Stay tuned for more from our Italy trip!