Best Smartphone Apps for Healthy Travel

Just recently, on the last leg of a trip through Turkey, I joined the 50 per cent of all travellers who experience a medical problem when they venture overseas. Lugging a heavy suitcase down a steep and rocky trail from my village guesthouse I reignited an old sacrum injury, resulting in a painful trip home and a closer acquaintance with my physiotherapist. Medical conditions that travellers experience might be as common as sunburn, but different food, water, environment and activities that expose you to unaccustomed challenges are just some of the factors that can lay you low. Here are a few vital apps that will help you stay fit, fabulous and able to make the most of the mind and body expanding opportunities that travel presents. And, note to self, overseas is no reason to neglect yoga practice, or bad back will surely follow. 


Travel Health Guide

This is the next best thing to having a doctor by your side. Developed by Australian travel medical specialist Dr Deborah Mills and based on her best-selling book Travelling Well, the Travel Health Guide app is a mine of information that covers everything from sunburn to seasickness to chikungunya, with recommended medications and treatments. A key aspect is the STOP sign that tells you when a condition can be treated by the patient and when urgent medical intervention is required. 

Platforms: iOS (iPhone and iPad)

Universal Doctor

If you need to speak to a doctor but don’t share a common language, Universal Doctor Speaker could help out. Nominate your own language and your doctor’s and choose whichever phrases you need to describe your symptoms from the sub-menus. Every phrase has an audio function as well as text in the doctor’s own language, and he or she can select questions to ask you. Everything from common traveller’s illnesses to accidents to injuries resulting from violence is covered. Universal Doctor enables translations in 13 languages, although not into several major Asian languages including Hindi, Thai and Indonesian.

Platforms: iOS (iPhone and iPad)

Deep Sleep

Travel can play havoc with your sleep patterns, but Andrew Johnson can help put things right. In a soft and soothing Scottish brogue, Johnson’s Relax and Deep Sleep apps use guided meditation techniques to bring calm and comfort to the jet-lagged and insomniac, whether it’s just a 30-minute nap or a full eight hours on the wish list.

Platforms: iOS (iPhone/iPad), Android 

Vegetarian Travel

Based on the website, the world’s leading vegetarian site, the Happy Cow Veg Travel Guide for Vegan & Vegetarians is the ultimate resource for the galloping vegetarian. Ignore the slightly clunky interface, Happy Cow casts a wide net and comes up with meals that don’t involve pain even in such red-meat strongholds as Buenos Aires. 

Platforms: iOS (iPhone/iPad), Android 

Fitness Tracker

Designed as a fitness tracker for cyclists, MapMyRide also functions well as a  multi-activity fitness monitor that tracks your workout, whether it’s running, walking, hiking or lap swimming, and gives you vital statistics including time, speed, distance and calories burned. Since it works by GPS, no expensive data downloads are required. When your device locates a wifi signal, your workout downloads to the MapMyRide website, from where you can compare other’s performances over the same route and upload to social media sites. 

Platforms: iOS (iPhone/iPad), Android 


Yoga on the fly without a teacher is tricky but the Hatha Yoga app from Bendyware turns your hotel room, a beach or any quiet outside location into a yoga studio. Select your level and time and the app comes back with step-by-step visuals and audio that precisely choreograph your asanas, chosen from hours of professionally recorded instruction.

Platforms: iOS (iPhone/iPad)

First Aid

Developed by the American Heart Association, First Aid gives you walkthrough instructions that just might save a life. Step-by-step directions with images and videos tell you how to stop bleeding, how to tie off wounds, how to deal with an epileptic seizure and a diabetic emergency and how to perform CPR. You’ll also find heaps of information to cope with less critical medical interventions, from cuts and bruises. It also includes such handy tips as a first-aid checklist for when you’re far from home, and your own medical profile and medical contacts for immediate access. 

Platforms: iOS (iPhone/iPad), Android

Glycemic Index

Foods with high glycemic index can spike your blood sugar levels, causing fatigue and increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, depression, chronic kidney disease and a host of other life-threatening health problems. While you might be well ware of the GI rating of food in your normal diet, what about when you’re confronted with a sheep’s cheese in Turkey, or a dish of dates in Dubai? The Glycemic Index app for Android by Marcin Dutkiewicz has a few bugs but the vital information is all there. For Apple users, The Low-Glycal Diet™ app by BioFit is the pick. 

Glycemic Index App

Platform: Android 

Low-Glycal Diet™ app by BioFit

Platform: iOS (iPhone/iPad)

Allergy Food Translator

How do you say “Does this dish contain peanuts?” in German, or “Is the paella made with shellfish?” in Spanish? If the difference between knowing and not knowing is critical for you, the Allergy Food Translator is the app you need. Create a profile, choose from the list of 62 possible food allergies and the AFT app creates a translation in either French, German and Spanish that you can show to a waiter. 

Platforms: iOS (iPhone and iPad)


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