It goes without saying that being able to attend the 2016 Olympics is a BIG DEAL. You probably don’t need evidence of 74-mile long traffic gridlock to know that lots of people would like to be able to go to the games.
But going to an event this big in a country you’ve perhaps never been to can come with challenges, traffic only being one of them. Even though the games are meant to promote peace, safety can also be a concern.
Transportation for the huge influx of people and natives may prove difficult during your stay. And then there are the normal problems associated with visiting a foreign country or city.
From remembering your passport to flight itinerary to interacting with those who may not speak your language, to having enough local currency, to getting lost—the potential for problems is multiplied. Is it going to be worth it? Definitely. But it helps to be prepared and to have the right tools and accessories to assist. Here are some apps to reduce stress.
1. TripIt Travel Organizer App
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information you have to be able to find or remember about your trip, let this app take some of it off your shoulders like an Olympic weight-lifter. You can unload (and upload) information about your itinerary—both for the flight and the Olympics, your hotel, car rentals, etc. All of your travel plans will be in one place while you are on-the-go. You can share this information with family and friends, and auto-import details from emails.
For automatic updates regarding changes in your flight itinerary, you will have to purchase the app for 99 cents, and then you will no longer have to deal with any ads either. Even if you would prefer to just stick with the free app, it will still allow you to add photos or links, help you with directions, and plan for the weather.
You can access this information on your tablet, smartphone, computer, and some wearable devices, on or off-line. You can sync TripIt with your calendars and store your contacts here.
TripIt Travel Organizer (Free)
TripIt Travel Organizer No Ads
2. Transportation Apps
What’s next when you are ready to leave the airport? You’ll need a ride, and this probably isn’t going to be the only time. Uber can help you find a ride in minutes, with no reservation necessary. Uber does tend to be cheaper than a taxi the majority of the time, and in my experience, does its best to resolve disputes fairly and refund promptly.
If you prefer to take a taxi in Rio, install Easy Taxi. It is the most popular taxi app in the world. If Uber drivers make you a little nervous, rest assured you can use this app to track your driver’s identity and cab information. It is perhaps just as convenient as Uber, only requiring the click of a button. You can also pay through your phone instead of dealing with ATMs that close after 10 PM and/or not having the correct change.
3. Maps/Navigation Apps
How will you know if your driver is taking the most direct route when you don’t know the area?
You probably won’t without navigation or a map. Waze app and website eagerly jumped on board to help you out, updating its information to better assist and alert you to real-time traffic conditions. You can even keep in touch and in sync with friends driving to the same destination, view a live map, and monitor major traffic events.
Google Maps is tried and true, of course, and gets updated perhaps the most often of these apps. It is the one I rely on the most for real-time GPS navigation that accounts for traffic, transit information, and even details about places themselves.
If you are seeking something different than Google Maps, MapFactor: GPS Navigation can serve the same purpose also for free. It will tell you when you are approaching speed cameras, allow you to avoid certain not-so-safe areas, and does cross-border routing seamlessly.
Google Maps – Navigation & Transit
MapFactor GPS Navigation Maps
4. Safety Apps
Safety has been a leading concern at this year’s Olympics not only because Rio De Janeiro has some dangerous areas normally, but also because tensions are heightened due to a recession and income equality, as well as many political and environmental issues. This can be a prime time for tourists to be targeted, although numerous safety measures have been implemented to prevent and mitigate acts of terrorism, muggings, and other violence. It never hurts to use a little common sense and to have a plan. Although your phone won’t be able to perform any karate moves for you, here are some apps you can use to stay safe.
bSafe can keep your friends aware of your location and alert them when you are in danger. You can also set a timer to send an SOS if you are unable to check in after a specified amount of time. React Mobile is similar and extremely simple to use. Notify your friends when you are leaving to help them track you, and when you are in tracking or emergency mode, the app will appear on top of your lock screen.
Circle of 6 allows you to send one of three messages—using only two taps—to as many as six people. You can signal that you need a ride (along with your location), you would actually like an interruption, or that you need your friends to contact you as soon as possible.
iGoSafely will also monitor your location, allow you to send an alarm to your friends than can only be disarmed with the code of your choice, and can transmit a 30-second audio recording from your phone during an emergency. The interface is very easy to use and the alarm can be triggered by merely shaking your phone or unplugging the headphone cord.
Circle of 6
iGoSafely – Personal Safety App
bSafe – Personal Safety App
5. Schedules of Events
Now that you can get where you need to go safely, on to the reason why you came in the first place—the sporting event featuring the greatest athletes in the world. There is a lot going on here at all times, so how can you keep up? Well, there’s the official app dedicated to the Olympics. If you are more interested in this year’s Olympics exclusively, there’s Rio 2016.
Then there are apps that cater to certain countries’ interests. For instance, if you happen to live in the U.S., the NBC apps below are more focused on Team USA. Rio Guide APK features a directory of stadiums and arenas. It will also prove helpful if you need to locate or get to any business near you.
TheOlympics – Official App
NBC Olympics – News & Results
Rio Guide APK
6. Translation Apps
Not knowing the language in a foreign country can affect the likelihood you will be scammed, your prospects of becoming lost, your safety… If you are all in and want to learn Portuguese or any other language in as little as five minutes per day, and for free, check out Duolingo. This app isn’t about boring classroom-style learning. It’s accomplished through games.
Google Translate can work inside any app, via a new feature called Tap to Translate. Simply highlight the text you wish to translate and an icon will appear for you to tap. iTranslate lets you type in words to convert, and perhaps most significantly, can translate and convert your spoken words into the language you choose. You thought you couldn’t speak Portuguese? Well, now you can.
Duolingo: Learn Languages Free
Even when you get the hang of navigating the area near your hotel and the games, you still need to pay for things. Big events are prime time for scams, especially when you don’t know the conversion rate (or are bad at math). If you still need a currency converter app for your Android, take a look atXE Currency Converter. It can help you manage your money while you are on vacation.
Which apps did you decide to go with? Tell us about your favorite Olympic app or moment below.