Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Travel technology offers array of helpful apps to ease your transit

Watch for roaming charges, look for new apps and plans

Let your phone be your travel agent.  Helpful apps abound for the domestic or foreign traveler.  Use them!


Travel can be enhanced by taking time to read, research.
TECHNOLOGY has made travel easier and the world smaller. Like it or hate it, we might as well embrace it and use it to better our lives.

TTaking advantage of our rapidly changing high-take world makes more sense on the road than anywhere else.  Take advantage.
Our travel tips theme continues with a look at ways to use technology and modern conveniences to enhance our adventures domestic or abroad.
A travel app helped us find this offbeat guitar restoration shop in Nashville.
* ROADY READING, literature, listening. A girlfriend showed me her iPhone, proudly noting 10 audio books and a Kindle app with 12 or 14 books. If she has an unplanned lay-over, or misses a connection, she'll never be without something to listen to or read. You can also download travel books and travel maps. I am a hold-out for the old-fashioned turn-the-page book. But never hardbacks.  I take two or three slim novels, then use the ship's library or B&B "take one and leave one" book shelf to augment trip reading.  I also leave my books as I read them, either giving them to a maid or new friend, or to the hotel reception.
* USE SEARCH and booking services to find deals on flights, hotels, car rentals, and more. Most search and booking services come with apps for Android, iPhones, and iPads. 
This is useful when plans change (and they will) and you need to find a new
hotel room, change a theater booking, move up a dinner reservation.

Apps can help you plan, have a good time!
* Use websites and apps. They've revolutionized travel since we were first exploring Europe in the late 1960s. They'll help you find hotels, car rentals, specialty shops, city tours, museum hours, gas stations, local eateries, dog and family-friendly places and good prices for filling your rental car or your tummy! A couple are Fuel Finder and You can also find an app for nearly every country or destination. Just go to the web and plug in your country and the words "travel app."
*In the airport, GateGuru is a cool smartphone app providing information on more than 10 airports with restaurant and retail options and discounts near your gate!
This woman is texting on  vacation -- she may be incurring extra charges.

Don't forget to turn off your data roaming before you leave the country. We once racked up a $75 charge on our Droid, while booking from our ship a last minute, half-day city tour. As we sailed into Fort Lauderdale, the roaming meter was running! Smartphones sometimes "push" download updates and messages, too, and these automatic procedures incur charges. Keller once forgot to turn off his roaming and got a $150 charge when his messages downloaded at the Rome airport!
You've worked hard for your time off -- now
you must concentrate on relaxing, enjoying!
* Consider an app for foreign travel, such as Skype or Google Voice that will let you call at Wi-Fi hot spots for little or no charge.  On ships, buy an Internet package and use e-mail to keep in touch with home.  When you get to your country, consider a cheap cellphone in that country.  One frequent flier friend uses a prepaid SIM card to call his U.S. family.
The wireless T-Mobile is introducing a global calling plan at a reasonable price -- about 20 cents a minute. The plan just went global with unlimited data and texting in over 100 countries at no extra charge. Plus improved features for calling and texting during U.S. travel. You must have a compatible phone.  Check it out.
* USE HOUSE phones for local calls. If you aren't conversant in the language, your hotel desk clerk will usually be happy to make the call.  I always reconfirm the next night's lodging, even if I have a print-out. Good back-up.

COMING UP: We continue our travel planning tips series Saturday with tips for learning to relax, enjoy and appreciate your hard-earned down time.  Essential elements can help you travel lighter, freer, happier -- paying for things ahead, exploring local haunts to enhance your time away from home! Remember to explore, learn and live, and check us out Wednesdays and Saturdays at:


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