Your Phone as Your Travel Buddy
When many of us head out on holiday, we leave our expensive smart phones at home. But… you might not want to after you’ve read this. The truth is that your mobile can be the perfect travel buddy. Don’t believe us? Then check out how your phone can help you out the next time you’re off on hols!
Hold Up a Second
Alright, before we get started here, we’ve got to give you a word of warning, it’s only fair. Some of the below tips involve you having a data connection on your mobile. If you’re travelling somewhere with WiFi, that’s no problemo. But if you’re relying on your regular 3G or 4G connection then you might want to think carefully, lest you be presented with a huge bill when you get home. Travelling inside the UK isn’t a problem, of course, but if you’re leaving the country and want to use that 3G or 4G connection then investigate roaming package options with your operator before you leave. Trust us, it’ll be worth it in the long run…
Maps, Maps and More Maps
First up is a rather obvious use for your phone when you’re somewhere unfamiliar, that awesome map app that you’ve got. For most of us that’ll be Google Maps, and not only will that stop you getting lost, but it can also point you in the direction of some useful stuff, such as touristy spots or decent restaurants. Simply pinpoint your location and type “restaurant” (or whatever else you want to find in the vicinity) and get a list of places and reviews too. Handy.
Wait though, there’s more. Don’t want to use that expensive data connection and don’t have WiFi on the go? Then you can use Google Maps offline too. Initially you’ll need an internet connection, so open the app, search for a place (say “New York City”), when the place you want appears in the search bar, click on it, touch the three dots that appear in the corner of the screen, then select “download.” Hey presto, you’ve downloaded the entire area for offline use later. Sweet.
There are of course, other options. Citymapper is a handy map app that lets you plan journeys and get more easily from place to place. The app gives you walking, driving and public transport directions, and even tells you how much you can expect a local cab fare to cost…
Never Lose a Ticket Again
Plane tickets are so last year. Plus, it’s pretty easy to misplace that little strip of paper in the flurry of packing. But why bother when you can just use your phone instead? Most major airlines these days will send you an email to confirm your booking a couple of days before departure. Click on the link included in the email from your mobile, and if you’re lucky you’ll see an option for an electronic ticket. This downloads a QR code to your phone that takes the place of your ticket. Simply let airport personnel scan the code whenever you’re asked and that’s it. No more tickets to lose…
But What About Keys?
This one isn’t widespread yet, but several chains of hotels are experimenting with letting you use your phone as a room key. Hilton, Starwood and Hyatt hotels are all beta testing the idea, where you simply open up an app on your phone and click unlock to get into your hotel room. The good part about this is it could mean no more check in restrictions. Arrive late, get your room number from your phone, get into your room, no long discussion and presentation of credit cards at the reception desk necessary.
There are a couple of ways that your phone can help you remain safe and sound when you’re travelling. The first of these is by downloading a local taxi app. Hailing cabs on the street might be fine in New York, but in many cities it isn’t (and in many towns it’s not possible at all). Simply find the local taxi app for wherever you’re going and rest assured that you can get a ride when you need one, and that the trip will be registered and above board.
And if you’re going somewhere less than salubrious, a panic app might not be a bad idea either. Some phones come equipped with this function already, though there are plenty of app options. The idea is simple, you open the app, put your finger on an icon, and if you lift your finger without disabling the app first, a call is made to the local police including your GPS position. Good for walking through scary places at night…
Organisation and Comprehension
There are another two fairly common sense uses for your mobile abroad that we haven’t talked about yet. The first of these is simple organisation. With tons of itinerary apps around (TripIt is our favourite due to it being free and having a web site too, meaning you can plan everything on your PC and have it in the palm of your hand when you travel). These mean that you’ll always know exactly where you’re going, what your hotel address is, what your flight number is, and will receive timely reminders so you don’t forget that flight.
Then there’s the issue of language. Google Translate is the most commonly used translation app, simply because it’s so good at what it does. With Google Translate you can type words in to translate, but you can also translate through speech or even by taking a picture of something you want translated into English. If you’re going somewhere where you don’t know the local lingo, this could save a lot of hassle.
Let Your Phone Come To
Even if you don’t want to pay roaming charges abroad, you might want to take your mobile with you on your next vacation. It can help out with all the above mention things, but don’t forget, you’ve probably got a great little camera on there too, not to mention some music and even movies to keep you entertained at the airport. Just don’t forget to take your charger with you too!