How to get your smartphone ready for a trip: Tips and essential apps
Before going on a travel, either long or short, we always worry about what to wear and what physical documents we need to travel, but we rarely remember checking if our cell phone is ready for the adventure.
So we’ll help you with a few tips and applications that will make your traveler life easier.
1- Check the space in your memory card:
The first thing you should do before going on any trip, is to take the time to erase everything you don’t need and uses memory space of your smartphone. File your old photos, delete apps that you don’t usually use and, if you can, format the external memory, in order not to have any space problems during the trip.
If you go on a long trip and use your phone as a camera, I recommend to also have an extra external memory. That way you won’t waste time looking for a suitable one in a city you don’t know.
2- Wi-Fi is not always available:
Perhaps in your home town internet access is guaranteed, but that’s not the case everywhere. Even in your own country some cities don’t offer open internet access or, if they do, the reception is really bad, so you shouldn’t take your internet access for granted. Before leaving your house download all the applications that you will need and, especially those that work offline.
3- The plug is important:
If you are leaving your country, always check what kind of plug they use in the country or countries you are going to visit. If you are not a regular traveler, it might be cheaper to buy a specific power adapter, but if you plan to visit different countries (now or in the near future) you should definitely buy a universal adapter. They are a little more expensive than the normal ones, but in the long run they will save you space, time and money. In addition, universal adapters automatically solve the voltage problem, which a simple adapter does not necessarily solve; seriously, you don’t want your phone exploding.
The worst nightmare of a traveler is to lose the photos he or she took during the trip. The idea of not being able to recover photos of a place you might never go back to, is deeply painful. You should know that during your trip bad things could happen: you can lose your phone, someone could steal it, you could accidentally put it in a self-service washing machine in a city in northern Thailand (my personal experience) or it could just die. So be cautious and make backup copies.
If you are already a Gmail user the easiest way is to use one of their free services, such as Google Photos or Google Drive. The first one backs up all your photos automatically, without limits of space and with the same resolution. Google Drive, on the other hand, offers 15 GB for free, for saving photos documents, spreadsheets, etc.
If you do not like Google services you can also create a backup folder in the cloud, by downloading some other storage application. Many companies offer space for free, but you can always pay for more space. Dropbox is the best known, but only gives you 2 GB of free storage capacity, so I recommend Mega (from the creators of Megaupload). Mega has 50 GB of free storage capacity and you can synchronize it with your phone and / or computer. It works very well when you have a lot of unedited material and you need space quickly.
5- Have a map that works:
Before leaving on a trip, always make sure to download have the map(s) you need to your phone. I know you’ve probably used Google Maps or Waze, which work very well if you have an internet connection, but without internet they have no use. If you do not trust your connection, you can download Maps.me, an application that offers offline maps that include directions. This means that it can literally help you get out of the middle of nowhere with your GPS, which works without internet. It’s really good, once it saved me when I was lost in the mountains, guiding me to the closest road.
6- Fly cheaper:
If your trip has different destinations and you are flexible, use Hopper. It’s like a rate predictor, telling you when’s the best time to buy a ticket to a particular destination or if the price will go up or down in the future. It also send notifications to your smartphone when the price gets close to your ideal figure. It’s a good idea to have it with you always.
If you want a specific date, don’t know where to go and you like taking risks towards adventure, Kayak shows you which place in the world has the lowest air fare on the date you want to travel. And if you already know your destination and dates, Skyscanner shows you which airline has the lowest price, like many others, but what makes it special is that you can choose multi-destination or include several stops in the search. It’s not necessary to buy through the site, but if you are offered a combination of different companies you will be redirected to a website where you can buy all the tickets at once, for the best price.
7- Find a good place to sleep:
Of course, wherever you go, you must have reliable applications to make reservations. From the traditional ones that show rooms in hostels and hotels, Booking is the one that offers the best prices, don’t waste your time trying with others like Trivago or Hoteles.com. I’ve done it and there’s always some extra charge that makes your stay more expensive. Other alternative, which is almost always cheaper, is Airbnb. You book a private or shared apartments / rooms that belong to locals, although there are several real hostels and hotels that are also registered.
Always check both sites, because depending on the country one can be cheaper than the other. Also, when using any of them, always look for “extra charges”, because they can increase the price significantly.
If you are on a budget and have more time Couchsurfing is a good option to find free accommodation, but remember it is a social network and it’s more than sleeping without paying, you should share some time and conversation with the host to give some of your culture and experiences. It is a very good way to meet other travelers, but you have to be willing to socialize.
8- Tour the city without weight:
You are on a long layover that allows you to walk around the city, you arrived early and you can’t check-in yet or you want to explore for a while before taking the plane: Airkeep is what you need. It connects travelers who need to leave their luggage for a few hours (or even days) with people and local businesses that can store their bags, suitcases, etc. Airkeep allows you to leave your luggage in a safe place close to your route for a small cost, without paying the high amounts charged in airports or bus terminals. In addition, local guardians or keepairs can help you with tips, let you use the bathroom or charge the battery of your phone. The most important thing is that with this app you can explore the city without weight nor worrying.
9- Communication is very important:
Being able to say at least a few words in the local language, in certain cases can save your life or, at least, help you get food. Even If you only speak little English, in almost every country you will be able to communicate relatively well, but if not a translator is essential. Google Translate can help you do precisely that with more than 90 written languages in a basic way; for IPhone, ITranslate works even without an internet connection. But if you want to have a conversation, the best application is SayHi, which translates the voices of the people involved in the conversation into an on screen chat, in more than 50 languages.
10- You must know how much you are paying:
To manage your money and to know how much things cost can help you plan your purchases, accommodation and transportation better, helping you stretch your budget. For that you need a good app to convert currencies, the best one is: XE Currency. The good thing about it is that you can download the currencies you need when you have an Internet connection, but you can use it offline to know the right amount based on the last update. Additionally, you can compare up to 10 currencies at the same time.
11- Move like a local:
If you want to move at your own pace using public transport, you need to know which the fastest route is and which bus or subway line to take. Each city has specific applications for that, but a few have information of several places in the world: Moovit will help you in more than 400 cities in 80 countries; City Mapper has information of public transportation in more than 30 cities around the world. Needless to say, going on your own will save you a lot of money, and knowing how to do it will allow you to manage your time better.
If you are in Europe and want to move by train or intercity bus between countries to another, GoEuro can help you to quoting and buying tickets from different companies throughout the continent. If you are in Chile, Peru or Argentina a very good intercity bus application is Recorrido.cl, which you can also use to quote, check schedules and buy tickets.
If cars are your thing, applications like Uber and Cabify can save you from local taxi drivers: Uber is on every continent with roads and Cabify is in both Latin American and European countries. If you want to meet people and go on longer journeys a good option is BlablaCar, an application that connects people who want to share their car with travelers who want to share expenses. Unfortunately it is only available in Europe, Mexico and Brazil, but it is a good way to join the collaborative economy and spend less.
12- If you like “10 best things to do in …” lists:
Although it’s always better to rely on spontaneity to know a city, you don’t want to miss iconic places. One of the best applications for this is Minube, a social network where travelers recommend where to go in different cities and share photos, tips and experiences of the places they visit. A similar applications is TripAdvisor, but despite the fact that the objective is the same, many people have accused the website of show false paid reviews. Anyway, it is a good source of information if you are not easily influenced.
With these tips you’re ready for your next adventure. Use technology to make everything easier, but don’t pay too much attention to the screen, the most beautiful things are out there.