The top insurance, international debit card, and other boring yet necessary essentials
Data Plan: T-Mobile Simple Choice
Instead of bothering with SIM card purchases, choose this to get unlimited data and texts in more than 120 destinations ($50 per month). Easter Island, Iceland, the United Arab Emirates—you name it, it’s covered. Pair the plan with an iPhone 6 Plus, if only for its camera.
Currency Converter: XE Currency Apps
This live tool, which pulls the latest rates every 60 seconds when you’re online, is a godsend when you need to do math fast. Or when you don’t speak the language: There’s no smoother way to negotiate a day rate on a rickshaw in Vietnam.
Travel Insurance: World Nomads
Obamacare isn’t going to kick in when you face-plant off a mountain bike in Bolivia. But the cost-effective Explorer plan (about $500 for six months of coverage) will absorb $100,000 worth of hospital bills. If your baggage is stolen or a trip is canceled, it covers that, too.
Bank Card: Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account
A linked brokerage account and Apple Pay support are great, though the real draw is that Schwab reimburses every ATM fee—worldwide—at the end of each month, with no minimum deposit or monthly service charges.
Translation Tool: Google Translate
This free app helps you carry on conversations in 90 languages, with or without audio. In select tongues you can snap a picture of a foreign sign or any text you can’t understand, and it will translate it to English.
Virtual Private Network: IPVanish
Using Wi-Fi hotspots is the digital equivalent of riding the subway naked. Protect your data with a VPN, and it will generate a stateside IP address ($10 per month) that bypasses content restrictions like those imposed by Netflix, airlines, and the “Great Firewall” of China.
Route Mapper: Rome2rio
This useful website provides rates and approximate travel times across a full matrix of planes, trains, and automobiles. You can quickly decide whether a nonstop one-hour flight or a 12-hour train ride for half the price comes with less stress.
Rewards Credit Card: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Offers double points on travel and dining, plus rental car collision coverage, cancellation insurance for trip expenses, and $30,000 lost-luggage reimbursement. Others have tried to outdo it, but Chase has the best points partners.