If you have a smart phone or are thinking of getting one and you are planning a trip to Europe, take it with you. We have an iPhone 6 Plus’ and call AT&T before going. AT&T offers reduced call costs in Europe, a data plan for Europe and texting for a fee and it costs only $30/month. The phones work fine. We have had no problems at all. If you are at a hotel with WiFi, you don’t need a data plan and can text other iPhones for free using the WiFi. Some apps that are useful are:
- Tom-Tom GPS – This is a great GPS program that doesn’t use Internet (unless you are looking up a place by name). We bought the Western Europe version for $50. We have had it since our iPhone 4s and we both share it for the one cost.
- Airline Apps – Most airlines have apps to check-in, check on flights and book new reservations. They also usually work with the iPhones Passport. You can show your phone at check-in and security instead of paper.
- My TSA – Is an app that has the latest TSA rules and regulations.
- Metro App – This is a handy app that allows you to download subway maps from many of the world’s cities
- Expedia, Orbitz, Trip Advisor, etc. – These apps give you access to hotels, cars and flights from anywhere in the world.
- GateGuru – Shows gates at many large airports and what stores and restaurants are nearby.
- Language Apps – These allow you to translate languages in either direction. This can be handy in a country that you don’t speak the language. There are also apps that allow you to take a picture from your camera or the Internet and translate the foreign text.
- Vino Volo – If your airport has a Vino Volo, it is a great place to start your vacation. Have a glass of wine and something to eat. The app gets you free membership which gives free sampling.
If you get lost just use your map app and plug-in your hotel address (get a card as you leave your hotel). Make sure you have it set to walk not drive (unless you are driving) and get instructions back to your hotel. You can use this to find museums, monuments and gardens as well or just an interesting restaurant.
The subway apps are fantastic. We used the Paris Metro App to find the nearest metro stop to where we were and then to plot a course on the metro to where we wanted to go. It tells you which direction to take train, how many stops to go, which trains to switch to and your final stop. The map app can then pick up from the metro stop to your destination.
Your smart phone becomes your European guide-book but so much more powerful than any book could be. Many apps offer a guided tour through a museum or monument. Make sure you bring your headphones.
What did we do before smart phones? Paper maps were so hard to use!
George & Jo Anne
- I Love the Small Streets of Europe! (travelblogitaly.wordpress.com)
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- The Best Travel Gadgets (onthebeach.co.uk)