Technology has become the most reliable and rewarding travel companion you could wish for – sorry, human friends. It will always know which train to catch, it tells you where to get cheap (and safe) local delicacies, and it even keeps you entertained along the way with tunes and toons – you’re never too old for cartoons.
Yes, we live in a digital world. So let’s take advantage of it.
Here are 10 techy travel tips to help you utilise your top travelling companion and make the most of your next trip.
1. sim city
No one wants outlandish phone bills at the end of the month or holiday, so you’ll need a SIM card you can use overseas. Our top tip? Simply pick up a local SIM card when you touch down at your destination – you’ll be charged local rates and can use apps like Skype, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to keep in contact with your loved ones back home (saves you getting charged international call rates).
Try doing your research before as well so you know exactly what you’re looking for when you arrive.
2. why fly without wi-fi?
An internet connection is oxygen for smartphones and laptops, so it’s important to have a hotel room with Wi-Fi access. You can plan for this in advance and locate the hotels that offer it as a free service (avoiding those who charge for it at crippling rates). Having Wi-Fi every night allows you to upload and backup your travel pics from the day onto a cloud service for safe keeping, and plan your next day in detail.
3. flight tracker apps
There are many apps out there, like App in the Air, which keep you up-to-date on the status of your flight. From bad weather updates to scavenger hunt-style gate changes, a flight tracker app will keep you in the loop for where you need to be.
4. google trips
Whether organisation is your thing or you prefer to go with the flow, Google Trips can be your personalised travel itinerary. You can save maps and trips for offline use, but you can also explore with it. Google Trips suggests nearby attractions and highly rated local hotspots, pointing out hidden gems you may have missed.
Want to get your head around even more Google Maps tips and tricks? Check out how you can create custom maps with Google.
5. local public transport apps
We’re probably all used to our local public transport app, but each city you visit will have their own version. Downloading these apps early and getting used to how they work will reduce the chance of missing your train by one minute… or 40 minutes.
6. restaurant guide
If your trip will include any Lost in Translation moments, you might struggle at times to find the right restaurants with menus you can understand. International restaurant guides, like Yelp, give you ratings and vital information on restaurants worth checking out near you. And because the information and reviews are crowd-sourced, they will be recent, relevant, and provide insights from a range of locals and tourists.
7. google translate
If you really enjoyed your meal and want to thank the chef, forget about the awkward smile and ambiguous thumbs-up. Google Translate can give you the right phrase, or you can turn up the volume and it can thank them directly – bon appetit!
8. camera hacks
You probably already have a padded case to keep your camera protected against bumps, but what about keeping it safe from pickpockets? Try using a wire camera strap when you have your camera out. This will ensure your camera stays safe around your shoulder. Some of the best adventures can get pretty messy, so make sure you carry a small cleaning kit and regularly wipe away any built-up dust or dirt. This is also a handy place to keep any back-up storage cards and USBs.
9. battery life
Unfortunately, your phone can’t rely on a pick-me-up espresso when it gets tired. No, it drinks sweet, sweet electricity. Here are a few ways to keep your battery full:
- Use the obvious battery-saving apps
- Only keep open apps you’re currently using
- Have your phone in airplane mode for as long as you can
- Take a charger in your backpack and charge your phone at every café you go to
- Invest in a battery pack, with cables for your phone, camera, and laptop
For the full lowdown, check out our ultimate battery saving tips blog
10. prepare for offline
We’re not saying Y2K was delayed by two decades and you should buy enough Campbell’s soup to fill a swimming pool. Just be ready for the moments on your trip when you won’t have access to the internet.
It’s almost inevitable you’ll find yourself in a position where you’ve run out of data and aren’t close to Wi-Fi. This doesn’t have to be game over, though. You can save maps and flight details on apps for offline use and print out all your tickets, scanned personal details and addresses. You should carry these copies in different parts of your luggage.
If you follow these simple tips, your technology won’t let you down on your next trip. As for your human companions? Well, you’ll just have to take your chances there.