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Travel Tech Tips

Using Your Cell Phone Abroad
  • Call your cellular provider in advance of your departure to find out what may be included in your existing plan for your destination. You may not need to add/do anything.

  • If your cellular plan doesn't include coverage for your destination ask what options they may have for temporarily adding coverage so you can make and receive calls, texts, and emails while you're traveling. Each provider has their own plans with varying costs.

  • Install WhatsApp on your phone before you go. You'll be able to call, video chat, and text for free when you're connected to wifi at your hotel. The app is free, but the people you're calling or texting will need to have WhatsApp installed on their phone as well.

  • Download Google Maps offline for your destination before you go, while you're connected to wifi, so you can use your phone for navigation at your destination without being connected to cellular or wifi. Tip: Save your hotel location on your Google maps.

  • Bring a portable phone charger with you as you're out sightseeing. Using navigation and the camera drains battery levels quickly. You don't want to miss photo opportunities or not be able to order an Uber or navigate back to your hotel without your phone. Just in case, carry a card with your hotel name, address and phone number with you at all times. 

  • Consider a phone lanyard to attach your phone and your purse, wrist or belt. This reduces the risk of losing your phone or having it swiped from a cafe table or your pocket! Pickpockets are really good at spotting phones and stealing them without you ever noticing.

  • If there's a Find My Phone feature on your phone, activate it if it isn't already. Should your phone be lost or stolen you can log in from another device to locate, erase or lock down your device to protect your information. Apple Find My Instructions

  • Sync your contacts, and photos to cloud storage so you don't lose your information and travel photos if your phone is lost or stolen. Be sure all your phones, tablets, and other devices are backed up before you travel.

  • Create a Google Drive or other cloud storage location and Put copies of your travel documents, travel insurance, passport, photo ID, vaccination records, prescriptions etc. in a cloud storage device such as Google Drive or AppleCloud. Share the folder with a family member or close friend who is not traveling with you so that they can help if you were to lose your documents while traveling.

  • Pack an outlet adapter with USB ports for charging your phone/table and other devices while traveling. Some have multiple USB ports to charge multiple devices simultaneously.

  • Many hotel rooms, trains, and planes are now equipped with USB outlets for charging that only require the cord that connects your phone to a USB port.

Useful Smartphone Apps
  • UBER can be easier than finding a Taxi but also has surge pricing, so peak hours rides can be pricey. The benefit is you can see the price in the app before your order the ride and there's no need to carry cash or worry about miscommunications about the address. You can use the same UBER app and payment method as in the US. Try to pick a location for pickup that's not a super popular spot or it can be difficult to locate the driver. Pick a side street and enter a specific address.

  • WhatsApp: Very useful free app for calling/texting while traveling. Video and audio calls are free when connected to wi-fi. It will also work from the cellular service on your phone as well, but additional charges may apply from your cellular provider, depending on your plan. You can only call/text people who also have WhatsApp, but the app will tell you who in your phone contacts is already on WhatsApp.

  • Public Transport Apps: Moovit and others are all very useful for planning routes using public transportation. The apps will also let you know about station closures and line delays.

  • Download the OFFLINE version of Google Maps for the destinations you're visiting. That way, if you have trouble getting cellular data or a bad connection you can still navigate.

  • Apps for your Airline, Cellular Provider, Bank, and Credit Card Company so you can monitor flights and upload pre-travel documents through your phone, monitor transactions on your cards, or quickly and easily report cards lost or stolen if needed.

  • Google Translate Offline Version so you can snap a photo of a menu or sign and quickly translate to English.

  • The Fork App: It's kind of the French version of OpenTable, you can see what's near you, prices and reviews and make reservations through the app.

  • Check if your US Arrival airport participates in Mobile Passport Control and download the app. This can save time at border control when re-entering the US at the end of your trip.

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