Posts Tagged With: Smartphone

Can I survive without a Tour?

English: icon for smartphone (smart phone) rel...

English: icon for smartphone (smart phone) related content (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

YES, YES, YES!!!!

 

We are firm believers of not taking tours in Europe. Many people say to me that they need a tour for one or more of the following reasons:

 

  1. Hard to plan and I am not a planner
  2. I might miss something important
  3. I don’t speak the language
  4. I might get lost
  5. I am afraid to find my way around

 

We help plan trips abroad without tours. There are so many forms of information on the internet today about travel. You have to be aware some are peoples opinions that are not the same as yours. This is true of formal tours as well. They may go to places you don’t care about. They most certainly will go to tourist places to eat (and get kick backs from these places) which are NOT the best food in these countries. My rules are:

 

  1. Don’t eat at tourist restaurants or near tourist attractions. The food is for Americans not locals. Get out with the locals and go to their restaurants. You will be amazed at how good the food is.
  2. Number 1 & 2 above – trips are not hard to plan. Buy a tour book at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. These books show top attractions and top things inside these attractions. You really can not miss anything important. With a map or a smart phone, you can layout where all of the attractions you want to see are. How far apart they are. You can plan what you can do each day. Next decide if you will walk, take a taxi or public transportation. Taxi drivers speak enough english to get by. Buses and Metros are easy to find and travel on. In big cities there usually is a metro stop near every major attraction. There are smart phone apps that determine where you are (GPS) and tell you where nearest metro stop is. They even guide you as you walk. Once at the metro they tell you what train to get on, which direction to go, how many stops to yours and the name of your stop. Once off the train they once again guide your walk to your attraction.
  3. Number 3 above – English is the universal language, French speak english in Italy, Japanese speak English throughout Europe. Most big cities have people who know enough English to help you. Attractions hire people who speak english as well. I like to learn some words in the country’s language I am visiting. They feel good when we try to speak their language.
  4. Number 4 & 5 above – You really can’t get lost with a good map or better yet a smart phone. Smart phones are getting cheaper each year. Plans for foreign use are cheaper than ever and at least one company is offering free foreign usage. You really need a data plan so you can use the internet. Many apps require communication with a server on the net. Map apps show you where you are and how to get to another destination like your hotel or the next attraction you want to visit. You never have to be afraid of getting around again.
  5. Be polite and kind to other people you encounter. You are their guests. They are NOT your servants. If you are friendly and nice most people will return the same to you.
  6. Exchange your money at banks not airports! Check rates they vary a lot.

 

Most important is just relax and enjoy your adventure. Eat and enjoy the food, drink the wine, speak to the local people and see the sights. Take plenty of pictures and you will create a memory you will never forget.

 

George & Jo Anne

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Europe, Exchange Rates, General Travel, GPS, Metro Travel, Trains | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GPS’ing Your Way Through Europe

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

WE use the Tom Tom app for iPhone in the US and love it. I just purchased the Western Europe Tom Tom app for our European trips. It is the same app so we are already familiar with it. We programmed in out Italian place as HOME and it found it and even showed the dirt road leading to us and the long winding driveway. I highly recommend some form of a GPS for getting around Europe. They are easy to use and will build your confidence in driving around your favorite country.

I programmed in favorites that we visit a lot, like the Rome Fumicino Airport (Leonardo Da Vinci). Now when we want to head for the airport we just pick from the favorite list.

Enjoy your travels and remember to relax and enjoy the country you are in. DO NOT BE AN UGLY AMERICAN! You are a guest, they are NOT your servants. The idea is to enjoy your stay, the food, the wine and the people. This will make for a more memorable trip.

George & Jo Ann

 

Categories: General Travel, GPS, Italy, Rome | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smart Phone Apps in Europe

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

If you have a smart phone or are thinking of getting one and you are planning a trip to Europe, take it with you. I have an iPhone 5 and call AT&T before going. I can get reduced call costs in Europe, a data plan for Europe and texting for a fee. 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. I have apps for subways, translation (Google translator) and sightseeing. If you get lost just use your map app and plug-in 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. I use the Paris Metro App to find the nearest metro stop to where I am and then to plot a course on the metro to where I want 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 smartphone becomes your European guide book but so much more powerful than any book could be.

What did we do before smart phones?

Categories: France, General Travel, Italy, Paris | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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