April 12th, 2017
Technology & Travel Apps for International Travel
As a so-called “Millennial”, I thought I’d take a moment to write about using technology to access whatever I need, while I’m traveling.
I love using my techy devices and gadgets, as well as getting answers for what I want to know as soon as I have the question. I feel strongly that there’s no reason why I should have to give that up while I’m gallivanting across the globe.
Here’s my quick checklist for those essential items that I just can’t live without, all digitally right at your fingertips!
It’s a matter of life and directions. Don’t forget these important travel tools and memory documenters at home. Just as important, don’t forget their charging cords or adapters either.
- Digital camera
- Laptop or tablet (or both!)
- GoPro, if necessary (for all those sick action video shoots!)
- Smartphone (duh!)
- Portable charging station, like a Mophie, just in case
*Pro tip: Consider leaving your wall charger at home and instead plugging your phone into your computer to charge it. This will help you minimize the amount of chargers/cords you have to bring, plus this way you’ll only need one adapter!
Before you head on your merry way, download some helpful travel and entertainment apps to help keep you organized and in the know on your trip:
- Bravolol: a basic phrasebook that has over 13 languages
- Duolingo: if you have more time to spare, start learning a language by taking some beginner courses, or brush up on one you haven’t used in a while
- Hipmunk: find cheaper flights/hotels and create flight itineraries with color coding
- Airbnb: have a more authentic and localized experience, plus check out the new Trips feature that lets you partake in curated events with local guides!
- Uber: get around town in almost any major city abroad
- Google Maps: figure out how to get where you’re going – if you don’t know if you’ll have wifi, you can always download a map of the city you’re visiting before you arrive.
- Google Trips/TripIt: pulls reservations from your emails and plans your whole day itinerary
- Packpoint: offers a list of items to pack based on the activities you will be doing
- TripAdvisor or Yelp: both are great to peruse reviews of top restaurants, activities, hotels, etc.
- Whatsapp: to talk to locals that you meet or keep in touch with friends back home who don’t have iMessage
- Entrain: promises users to beat jet lag by creating light schedules proven to help you adjust to a new time zone
- Detour: a built in GPS-guide that lets you view a city through the eyes of a local with scripts written by award winning producers and narrated by locals who know the city best
So What About Data Charges?
Whenever I travel internationally, instead of getting a SIM card, I just alert my cell phone provider that I will be traveling and ask them about their rates for an international phone plan. Most providers can add a monthly fee to your normal phone bill, and some even throw in free international texting, discounts on calling, and a small amount of internet usage for emergencies.
If you have an old plan or your provider doesn’t have an international plan option you’re happy with, you could always go the SIM card route. It’s just a little inconvenient because your phone number will change – which means iMessaging with folks back home is no longer going to work for you.
If you don’t want to travel with your phone, but you do want an option to stay in contact with people you meet while traveling, visit a local cell phone provider and buy a cheap flip phone.
The good news is that you’ve got lots of options.
I know this blog is about Travel Apps, but I would be remiss if I didn’t share a couple of other must-do’s!
To make your experience that much more enjoyable, and to eliminate the hassle of checking a bag (and the stress of possibly losing all your important belongings), bring a carry-on. There’s very little worse than having to schlep around a bag that’s way too big and way too heavy. If you’re looking for a suitcase that will tote your tablet and laptop, check out the Tarmac Carry-On. Plus, don’t forget your personal items for the plane so you can reach for your computer and phone at a moment’s notice. If you don’t need a full-size backpack, just bring a packable daypack to put underneath the seat in front of you for your most essential inflight items.
So let’s be real: Most international flights do provide a blanket and earplugs. But when they don’t, or when they run out, it’s the WORST EVER!! To be as comfy (and clean) as possible, bring your own travel pillow and ear plugs to sleep like a baby throughout a long flight. Also, a blanket for when that air conditioner gets a bit overly ambitious, and an eye mask to keep that imposing light from preventing you from getting some shut eye. No one likes to get where they’re going super grumpy. So being proactive is always the way to go!
So what are you waiting for? Get those downloads going and then hit the open road, take to the skies, and land wherever the wind may take you.
Have any other travel tips or apps that we should know about? Leave a reply in the comments below!
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