Traveling is a totally enriching experience but it can be stressful going to a new country where you don’t speak the language or know your way around. Carrying around a giant map or translation book is a great way to announce to the world that you’re a tourist (and possible target for petty theft). Fortunately, smartphones can help remove the “I’m a tourist and have no idea what I’m doing” vibes. With the right apps and accessories, your smartphone can make your travel experience more enjoyable and stress-free. Make sure you get the most out of your phone and fit in with the locals with these tips.
Using your smartphone in a foreign country can cost a lot of money if you don’t have the right coverage, so before you travel update your plan to avoid costly data and cellular rates. Many phone companies offer convenient international plans to keep you covered while on vacation. If you’re looking for something more long-term, opting for an iPhone 7 Plus with T-Mobile gives you service in Mexico and Canada, perfect for those who frequent these two countries.
Many of us put our whole lives on our smartphones. If this sounds like you, be sure to protect your information just in case you lose your phone, or it gets stolen, while you’re traveling. Make sure you’re lock screen is setup to require a code to access your phone. You’ll also want to avoid using Wi-Fi, even hotel Wi-Fi, to check bank accounts as unsecured Wi-Fi networks could be lurking with people looking to access your information. You can even use your phone to locate lost luggage and protect your personal belongings with a Bluetooth tracker, like Tile. Tile is compact, easily fitting in your luggage, wallet, purse, or camera bag, connecting your valuables to your phone through an iPhone or Android app.
Your phone won’t do you any good if you run out of battery life and have no way to charge it. A portable charger is a must for any trip, whether going overseas or staying within the United States. The PowerArmour Battery Case plays double duty as both a charger and a case to keep your iPhone safe from drops and bumps while ensuring you won’t run out of battery power. When traveling overseas, you’ll also need to make sure you have the right adapter in order to plug in your phone charger, or any other electronics. The Mocreo Universal Travel Wall Charger functions as both a charger and an adapter so you can charge your smartphone, or use other electronics, once you get to your destination.
Make sure you stock your phone with all apps you might need before you leave for your trip so you won’t have to rely on hotel Wi-Fi or use up valuable data. There are a lot of great apps for traveling. CityMaps2Go is a free app available for iPhone and Android devices that allows users to use city maps offline, perfect for avoiding lugging around big paper maps and looking like a tourist. If you’re going to a country where you don’t speak the language, ditch the translation book and instead download a translation app, like iTranslate. iTranslate includes over 90 languages from text or voice for easy translation on the go. Offline translation is also available for the most popular languages and the app can even translate non-Latin characters, perfect for getting around in countries like Japan and China. Another useful app to have is Fancy Tips, an app that helps you figure out how much is customary to tip for different services wherever you are.
Even if you get an international phone plan, it’s still a good idea to take advantage of calling and messaging apps. WhatsApp allows users to send texts, videos, and make phone calls without using cellular minutes. Instead, WhatsApp uses your smartphone’s internet connection which can equate to completely free phone calls if you’re on your hotel’s Wi-Fi or at a Wi-Fi hotspot. Skype is another great option for staying connected while traveling abroad. Skype lets users make free video calls, either one-on-one or as a group, along with voice calls and instant messaging.
Your phone can transform your travel experience, taking the stress out of travel so you can have the time of your life. Taking a few steps to prepare your phone before travel is the best way to get the most out of your mobile device, and can even help you save money. What are your favorite apps and phone gadgets for travel?