Travelling used to be simple – you packed your bag and set off into the sunset, stopping only now and then to write post cards home and take snaps on your camera (which, by the way, was film based).
Nowadays, you’re lucky to travel 100 metres without someone taking a selfie on their phone!
Staying active online, without letting it take over your trip, can be the perfect way to keep your friends and family in the loop and document your exciting travels. Here are some top tips from our personal travel managers for staying connected overseas and using technology to make life easier, not harder, while travelling.
The cost of staying connected
If you’re concerned about coming home to a thousand-dollar phone bill of surcharges and data roaming fees, turn your phone onto aeroplane mode as you board your flight and leave it there for the duration of your holiday.
Most smartphones will allow you to connect to Wi-Fi (which you can find almost anywhere, and often free of charge) without impacting your data. You can also go one step further and switch off your cellular data to disable 3G and data roaming when overseas.
Before You Go
TripIt is a free online service and app that allows you to upload all of your travel documents to your smartphone. From flights, hotel bookings, and reference numbers, you can input all of your information into one simple platform.
E-readers or apps like iBooks give you the option to download travel guidebooks for easy reading when on the go, without weighing down your bags. Not only can you entertain yourself on the plane, you can also learn about all the local hangouts before you land.
Try Entrain if you are going away for work or leisure to help minimise jet lag. This app was developed by researchers to create sleep schedules that allow you to adjust to your new time zone.
Do you speak my language?
One of the toughest parts of travelling can be overcoming language barriers. The futuristic app World Lens helps translates foreign languages. After downloading the app and setting your languages preferences, point your camera to any sign and the words will appear in the language of your choice.
If you are looking to learn key terms or phrases, try iStone, which will have you speaking like a local in no time.
Gone are the days of trying to fold and unfold giant maps or asking strangers for directions. Google Maps can be used offline by ‘screen shotting’ the directions when in WiFi ahead of time. Another handy app, City Maps 2Go, allows you to download detailed maps which can be accessed offline.
Keeping in Touch
Social media classics like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can help you stay in touch with loved ones and document your travels.
In some countries, where sites like these are banned (for example, Facebook in China), apps such as WeChat are better suited to keeping you connected.
Skype is the perfect way to feel as though you’ve brought your friends on the road with you. The basic video chat service is free, but you can also pay to make online-to-landline calls from your smartphone or laptop.
Starting a blog using websites like Penzu.com or Weebly.com can help you build an online journal so your loved ones can follow your adventures. Blurb is a website that can turn Blogger or TypePad blogs into a book allowing you to relive your adventures upon your return home.
Happy digital travels!
See your personal travel manager to begin planning your trip or find one near you.