Posts Tagged With: Smart Phones

Smartphone Apps on Vacation

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

Categories: Car Rentals, Driving in Italy, Europe, General Travel, GPS, Hotels, Metro Travel, Museums, Phones, Smart Phones | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Using Your Smartphone in Europe

Phones have become a part of our daily lives. We rely on them for everything. I have an iPhone 5 and use AT&T cellular service. I was grandfathered into an unlimited data plan so they have me until that changes. When you go to Europe (or any place outside the USA) your plan no longer stands. If you have unlimited free calls, that is only in the USA. In Europe you will be charged for all calls made as well as incoming messages even if you don’t answer the call. If the phone is off or in airport mode, then the in coming messages are not charged unless you listen to them. Data is you ability to do internet searches, maps and run your various apps. Your home data plan does not include foreign data usage. You will be charged a hefty fee for the use of data. You can buy a phone plan that reduces the cost of calls. Only do this if you must make or receive calls for your work or an important personal matter at home. You can also buy a data plan. AT&T charges $30 for so many MB of data usage. This can easily be exceeded if you stream video or music or send pictures and videos to friends or Facebook. The experience can end up costing you a lot of money.

OK what to do? I keep my phone in airport mode all the time. If I am at a hotel I either get free wi-fi or I buy it (usually around $10/night). This is much cheaper than the data costs from your phone company. You can keep your phone in airport mode and still connect to wi-fi. There are no additional charges from your phone company. You can also go to a free wi-fi area (like a town, cafe or restaurant). Once you are on wi-fi you can get your email, check Facebook, etc. Avoid texting since that costs extra (except on apple texting to another iPhone – iMSG). Send emails and you can include all the pictures and videos you want. It’s free! I use a Tom Tom app for Europe when driving. It costs a one time $50. It is a great app that does not use the internet. I can keep my phone in airport mode and still get GPS directions. If you have to go off airport mode to make a call, Make sure you turn off data over cellular in your preferences. If not your apps could start using data.

Phones are important in Europe as is directions. If you get lost it is nice to find your way back to your hotel with a GPS app. Make sure you have it in walk mode. Get an app like Tom Tom that does not use the internet for directions. I usually save a favorite for my hotel so I can easily use it when needed. Happy travels!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: General Travel, GPS, Hotels, Phones | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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