Planning to travel abroad this summer? Trying to decide whether to bring your smartphone along? With a little planning, your phone can be an indispensable travel companion.
Consider an International Data Plan
Depending on your destination, you might choose to disable roaming data on your phone and solely use wifi in local cafes, train stations, and hotels (tip: Google Maps still works if you’re offline; you just can’t calculate directions). But if you think you might need 3G access for on-the-go directions or internet searches, consider signing up for an international data plan — it could save you a lot of money. Call your phone carrier to discuss the options.
Create a collaborative Google document with your travel partner(s). Use it to keep track of hotel and flight reservations, shared expenses, local restaurants and events, recommendations from friends, and anything else you might reference on/before your trip. Using a collaborative document will cut down on the back-and-forth emailing, plus you’ll have a nifty travel guide to reference while you’re abroad. When it’s time to leave, download the Google Drive app (Android, iOS) and sync the documents to your phone so you can access them offline.
Before you leave, visit foursquare.com and set up a custom list of locations you’re interested in visiting on your trip. Add restaurants, museums, shops, bars, and even whole neighborhoods that you’d like to explore. You can also follow lists created by other Foursquare users. When it’s time to leave, make sure you have the Foursquare app installed on your phone. While you’re out exploring, your Foursquare list will sort by proximity, so you’ll always know which destinations are nearby, even if you don’t know the area.
Download a Local Transit App
If you’re traveling to a city where you plan to take public transportation, then a public transit app may come in handy. Use it to look up train and bus routes, schedules, and delays in service. Some apps (like Paris Metro, pictured below) are even designed to work offline, so that you can plan your route while on the subway where there’s no 3G service.