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The Ultimate Checklist for Preparing Your Mobile Phone «Smartphones :: Gadget Hacks

Smartphones are now indispensable when traveling. Domestic and overseas travel require food, navigation, translation and much more to make work or vacation successful. The days when you carry several tourist books everywhere are over – you have to have your smartphone do the dirty work.

We've covered all the apps and settings you need to download and see if you're safe. Travel like a pro. Do you need to ask for the bathrooms in French? We covered you. Want to find the best Tex-Mex Joint in Austin? Done. Do you need to compare whether it would be quicker and cheaper to travel by plane or train to your European holiday? This may sound crazy to Americans, but that's actually a good question that we can easily help you solve.

Everyone's travel plans are different, so some areas of this article might be more helpful than others. We have divided it into special sections for all travel requirements. Feel free to read the entire article or click on questions in the list below for answers.

Skip to section:

  1. Getting started with basic functions [1
    9659006] Preparing to spend money
  2. Enabling personal security features
  3. Driving through customs without incident
  4. Making air travel less stressful
  5. 19659006] Find a new place
  6. Find cool activities in a new country
  7. Stay connected in a foreign country
  8. Have a chat during downtime
  9. Log everything you do

Tip 1 : Getting started

There are no two different steps, but there are all the steps Travelers can take with them to make sure their smartphone is set for adventure. The last thing you need, whether a city over or an ocean, is that you can skip your iPhone or Android phone with basic tasks.

. 1 Update Your System Software

Your phone should always be updated to the latest available system software. Not only are they missing out on new features in later updates, but OEMs and network operators are also adding security updates to updates for squash vulnerabilities found in previous software releases.

If you use an outdated phone, this can be a problem at home and on the road, it can be a nightmare. If you need to update your phone but are in a place where you can not download the latest update, you're in no luck. We'll talk about finding free Wi-Fi later in this article, but even then, your next download option may not be fast enough.

Trust us – before you leave the front door, refresh your phone. On the iPhone, do this under Settings -> General -> Software Update. On Android, go to Settings -> Software Update or Settings -> System -> System Update. For Android devices, it can vary slightly as there are so many different types.

. 2 Update all the apps you use

Make sure that all the apps on your device – or at least the apps you know you use on your trip – are fully updated. You do not want old mistakes or problems that keep you from finding the best pizzeria nearby. For some apps, you can not use the app until after the update. The best deterrent is updating, updating and updating.

New updates are constantly being released. Best exercise? Reload this update page minutes before leaving the comfort of your home Wi-Fi network. This keeps you up-to-date as much as you can, and you do not have to worry about your ride sharing you away in a foreign, new city.

iOS (left) vs.. Android (right).

Sometimes you are in a hurry to leave the door. In these cases, you should be better prepared now by making sure your apps are set for automatic updating. On iPhone, go to Settings -> iTunes & App Stores -> Updates (under Automatic downloads). On Android, open the Play Store, tap the Hamburger icon, and choose Settings. There you will find the setting for "Auto Update Apps".

. 3 Take control of your date and time settings

Traveling in different time zones (national or international) can disrupt your phone and its apps. Before leaving your home time, make sure your phone's date and time settings are set to Automatic. You can also manually change the settings to your new time zone.

On the iPhone, these settings are found under Settings -> General -> Date & Time (Note: "Date & Time" is set to "Auto Adjust" when using Screen Time). On some Android devices, they are under Settings -> System -> Date and Time. For others, under Settings -> General Administration -> Date and Time. Again, it may vary slightly for Android devices.

iOS (left) vs. Android (right).

Tip 2: Preparing to spend money

Money is a universal language, even if the currencies differ. No matter on your journey, you will spend your money – taxis, food, accommodation, maybe a little shopping – all require a payment method. Setting up your phone to pay for these payments wherever you are in the world makes it much easier to pay for your trip.

. 1 Set up mobile wallet

Digital purses increase security when paying. You do not share your card or bank details with the merchant, so you do not have to worry about cards or identity theft. Scammers hate this one neat trick. Even if you lose your phone, nobody can use your digital money without a fingerprint or face.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay is the only way to go with the iPhone. The service is remarkably safe, to the point that Cash feels almost more dangerous (DNA, man). In the future, you can even apply for an Apple Card, a credit card through Apple. However, this will not be the case until the summer of 2019.

If you own an iPhone, you need to set up Apple Pay before you set off on your journey More and more businesses and countries are accepting this form of mobile payment. So do yourself a favor and protect your payments. And unlike some chip readers, it's lightning fast. To set up Apple Pay, go to Settings -> Wallet & Apple Pay. You can add debit and credit cards and set up Apple Pay Cash here.

Using Apple Pay on an iPhone.

Google Pay & Samsung Pay

On the other side of the smartphone spectrum, we have Google Pay (formerly known as Android Pay). To set it up, just open the Google Pay app on your device (install it first if you do not have it).

Unlike iPhones, you may have some flexibility in digital payment on Android. For example, if you have a Samsung Galaxy device, there is the Samsung Pay app. It's actually better than Google Pay as it can be used anywhere, not just tap-and-pay terminals, as there are both NFC and MST instead of just NFC.

Using Google Pay on an Android phone. Images about Google

2. Knowing the limits

Mobile payments are a breeze. At least if you travel to your home country. A stay abroad makes the situation more difficult. Mobile payments can easily prevent your country's currency from being exchanged for another, but you may be charged by your bank or credit card issuer for using cards in other countries.

However, you should always contact your financial institution before traveling Outside of the country, you should also check in unknown charges that are incurred when using your card with providers abroad. If you can, sign up for a card with no international transaction fees. However, this will be impractical for many people. Just make sure that you get the rules and regulations of your card so that the fees you charge are not unexpected.

. 3 Convert Currency to Seconds

If you travel internationally, you do not want to make blindfold purchases. The currencies vary from country to country, so you can never be sure how much really depends on the currency of your country.

But you do not have to do a lot of business. Just use your phone to convert the price of the item you want to buy into your home dollar. There are several ways to do this:

The digital assistant on your phone

Whether you own an iPhone or an Android device, you always have a personal converter handy. Both Siri and Google Assistant can convert currencies for you in no time at all. Just ask if you need to know. If you use another language assistant for your phone, it is probably also possible to convert the currency. (PS: While Siri is only available on iOS, Google Assistant is available on both operating systems.)

Siri for iOS (left ) vs. Google Assistant for Android (right).

Currency Converter Apps

If you are looking for more features, try a suitable currency converter app. Not only can you convert individual transactions, you can also take a quick look at multiple countries and see how their currencies fit together.

There are many options to choose from on both the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store We have listed three of the top rated options below to help you get started.

XE Currency for iOS (left) Vs. Android (right).

Tip # 3: Enabling Personal Security Features

Traveling can be a lot of fun, but like most things in life, it also carries some risks. Before you start, protect yourself and your phone with the following tips:

1. Disabling biometric login quickly

Our friends at Apple and Google know that the data on your phone is valuable and should not be easily accessible to anyone but you. Therefore, for both iPhone and Android, you can immediately lock your device to prevent others from using you and your biometrics to open your own device.

iPhone (Face ID or Touch ID)

On iOS, Face ID and Touch ID are safe, convenient options for unlocking your iPhone. However, since the code or fingerprint can only crack the code, bad actors can force you to open your device against your will.

Fortunately, Apple makes it very easy to quickly disable both Face ID and Touch ID. If you ever feel threatened or feared that your phone's biometric authentication will be used against you, you should use these tips.

Android (Lock Mode in Android 9.0 Pie & Up)

Lock Mode is a relatively new feature in the Android world. Lockdown mode was introduced last year with the 9.0 Piece update and disables both the fingerprint reader and advanced options in the Power menu. This blocks vulnerable access points for your device, making it harder for intruders to use you or your phone to access your data. As an added bonus, all notifications on the lock screen will also be hidden until they are unlocked.

. 2 Quick Call to Emergency Services and Send Contacts to Your Location

Just as you can quickly enable security settings to protect your phone's data, your phone offers the ability to quickly notify law enforcement when an emergency occurs. If you have an iPhone, this feature is already integrated. To activate, you only need a certain combination of keystrokes. Bonus: If you set up emergency contacts after the emergency call, you will receive an SMS with your location.

Unfortunately, if you have an Android device, your options are pretty low here. While you can search for "Emergency SOS" apps in the Play Store, most options are outdated or poorly rated. Anchors you do not want to see in an Emergency SOS app. The best way to select the emergency service is to use the "Emergency" option on the unlock PIN screen.

However, if you send your location to your emergency contacts, this will not happen automatically as it is possible iOS. Samsung offers an SOS feature for Galaxy phones, where you can click the power button three times to send location information to people you trust with your life. For other Android phones, an app similar to Call For Help works.

. 3 Setting Up a Medical Emergency Card

It's hard to think about it, but it could come at a time when you are unable to speak for yourself. In this case, it may be important for first responders or doctors to know some important personal medical information.

Medical cards come into play here. You can set up these digital maps on your phone, which you can call comfortably from the lock screen. Even if your phone is hopelessly locked, your information is accessible to the people who need it most.

Apple has integrated this feature as well as Android into iOS. In Android, look in the settings for "Emergency," and then tap "Emergency Information." Tap "Add Information" to enter your medical information into the medical ID of your Android device. You can find your medical ID on the lock screen by scrolling up to see the number pad. Then tap Emergency twice and then Emergency Information.

iOS (left) vs. Android (right).

. 4 Setting up an emergency contact call

If you have an Android device, you can call specific contacts faster than you need to in your phone app in an emergency. In stock Android, return to the "Emergency" settings described in the above step. Then select "Emergency Contacts" and then add contacts to Emergency Contacts . Now, on the lock screen, you can swipe up to display the number pad, tap Emergency, tap Emergency Information twice, then Contacts. Touch the contact's name to call him.

On iOS, you can add emergency contacts to your medical ID card in the Health app. These contacts will be used for Emergency SOS if you enable this option. You can also find them on the lock screen. Just tap the name of the contact on the medical ID to make a phone call.

iOS (left) vs. Android (right).

Alternatively, on iOS, you can add a Favorites widget to the Today view. Although this is not a perfect solution, you can map the emergency contacts to your favorites, so you can easily reach those contacts from the home screen.

5. Use Password Manager to protect passwords, notes, and more. If you note your passwords by hand, you do not want to take them with you, because a simple mistake can cause all passwords to be lost forever.

Trust a password manager instead. These services store your many passwords in a high-security, encrypted vault protected by a single password. Once you've added all of your passwords to your vault, all you need to do is remember that one master password, and you'll have it set up no matter where you are.

Our advice? Check out LastPass for iOS and Android. Native AutoFill, competitive pricing and world-class safety are just a few of the reasons why LastPass is the king.

Tip 4: Getting through safety and customs without incident

What's worse than a 14-hour international flight? Go through customs at the end. The country you are traveling in does not know you and does not trust you a bit. Ideally, they want to know everything there is to know about you, more specifically, everything you have about them.

Those who are more interested in you will be at security checkpoints before flying. Both of them may be very interested in your phone, but you can use these tips to protect your information while your device is being used by others.

1. Disable biometrics

Always use a lock code, PIN, or password in addition to biometric authentication. Before going through security or customs clearance, either turn off the device or quickly disable biometrics as described above . In this way, you can not force anyone to use your fingerprint or face to unlock the device.

. 2 Protect Your Data

If you travel internationally, you should leave only the data you need. Do not bring any sensitive materials you do not need on your trip. After all, border and security officers can only take what they have at their disposal.

You also want to use encryption services where possible. These services can protect messages, calls, photos, files, and more behind a math firewall. For example, Signal is a good communication platform that is secure and you can choose to unlock using a password, PIN, password, or biometric authentication.

You can also disable the Lock Preview Notification screen, which is also available across devices for both Android and iOS, not just Signal. If you use the Android Lockdown mode already mentioned, you can quickly hide notifications in seconds.

. 3 Use a Mobile Passport

Do you want to accelerate your customs visit and are you not afraid of government agents trying to access your data? Try Mobile Passport. You'll be surprised to learn that the app is recognized by 26 US airports and cruise ports. That's because the app is officially approved by the US Customs and Border Guard.

It can be used with both American and Canadian passports (B1 or B2 visa). The app will guide you through what exactly you need to do when you arrive in the US, and finally create a digital customs receipt for up to four hours. Let's just hope that customs is nothing more than that.

4. Using MyTSA to burn out security

You may also want to try the myTSA app which allows you to check, among other things, the waiting times for security and the items you bring with you on the plane. This app makes check-in and security a breeze (apart from the wires of course).

. 5 Make sure your device is as secure as possible

At the end of the day, make sure your iPhone or Android device is protected as much as possible. There are dozens of apps and settings that you can explore to keep the information on your device in the right hands. Whether it's customs tracking or online hackers – you can now take steps to make sure your phone is as secure as possible in every situation.

Tip # 5: Making Air Travel Less Stressful [19659016] Flying is perhaps the safest way to travel, but it's by no means relaxing. Even if you are not afraid of flying, everything about this type of transit can be exhausting. Tight seating, lack of storage space and unruly passengers, not to mention everything that has to do with the airport.

Keep your cortisol levels low by preparing in advance with the following tips. Who knows, you might even find a pleasant flight in your future.

1. Use apps to track flight status and long distances.

Your smartphone is an integral part of your itinerary. Do not discredit it as a great flight tool. Your phone can help with the flight experience to make things more streamlined and organized.

First you should download the app of your airline. So you can track your flight, keep track and even download a digital boarding pass for your phone's Wallet app. There are other apps like FlightStats for iOS and Android that let you track your flight, and you can even show your flight number on Google to get the same result.

You also want to use the myTSA app. As mentioned earlier, you can see how long lines are likely based on historical data. Delay information and current weather conditions are also displayed. You can even ask for live support if you need it.

. 2 Plan your airport for a successful layover

Once you've completed the security check, open FLIO, Apple Maps, or Google Maps to see a complete map of your gate. If you want to find the nearest bar to help with some preflight jitters, all three of them can help you on your way. Maybe you would rather buy a little? Whatever you need from your airport experience, a good map can help you find your way.

Apple Maps an iPhone. Pictures about Amboy Manalo / Gadget Hacks, gadgethacks.com

3. Distract Your Fear of Flying

Flying is a scary thing – 35,000 feet in the air is not something you should sneeze at. If you are afraid of flying or feel unwell in the air, you can try a few tricks to make you feel better.


Meditation can help with general anxiety and stress, so it seems to fit perfectly with flying fears. Two of the most popular meditation apps, Headspace and Calm, offer simple guided meditation sessions. Just plug in your headphones, press Play, and focus on your breathing.

Headspace is running on an iPhone.

Other Entertainment

We use the entertainment to escape. So why not fly off the plane to get a good movie, TV show or audiobook? There are so many different types of digital entertainment that you can record with your phone, and with a little planning you can keep up to date throughout the flight.

Most planes do not have Wi-Fi streaming your device at least without paying, so you need to download this content in advance. Skip to Tip 9 to learn all about downloading various media to your phone before you travel.

. 4 Instead opt for a train journey.

If this makes sense, you might want to add a train journey to your itinerary. Train travel is often cheaper and faster than air travel – it only depends on your destination. Even in the States, it's better to take a train between cities that are close enough to each other.

To see if it's worth taking a train, open your navigation app of your choice and see how long a train takes to reach your destination If it competes well with what a flight needs , you should remember the company that runs the train. Download your app and use the app for ticket prices and schedules.

If the combination of time and price works, a train might be the better way. Here are some examples of carriers and their apps. If you're not sure what train operators visit you in the country you visit, Wikipedia provides a good list of all long-haul connections for each country that should help you on the way to the right place app.

  • Install Amtrak (for USA): Android (free) | iOS (free)
  • Install Southern Railway (for the UK): Android (free) | iOS (free)
  • Install Thameslink (for the UK): Android (free) | iOS (free)
  • Install KorailTalk (South Korea): Android (free) | iOS (free)
  • Install V / Line (for Australia): Android (free) | iOS (free)
  • Install Trenes Argentinos (for Argentina): Android (free) | iOS (free)

Tip 6: Getting around in a new place

So you're in a new city. If only you would know! Do not worry – with proper preparation, your phone is the only companion you need to explore.

1. Use ground transportation in the city

At home you have your transport routine. When traveling? Things can fall apart. Sure, if you drive at home, driving in a new city may feel the same. But there is a big difference between driving in Denver and driving in London. If you are not traveling by car, navigating a new public transportation system can be daunting. You can take a taxi, but that too requires foresight. Follow the tips below to make sure you come wherever you need to be on your journey.

Maps Apps

Whether you're at the wheel or on foot, a good navigation app is essential . while traveling. A paper map can not tell you which roads are closed to construction, nor does it tell you which subway car to drive to reach full efficiency. If you want to know which apps are the best to tell you where to go – and why – then you should review our full comparison.

Apple Maps (left), Waze (center) and MapQuest (right)). Bilder von Amboy Manalo / Gadget Hacks


Wenn Sie zufällig autofrei sind und die öffentlichen Verkehrsmittel es nicht für Sie tun, auf die eine oder andere Weise , rufen Sie einfach ein Taxi an. Natürlich funktionieren verschiedene Städte anders – hat die von Ihnen unterstützte Stadt mehr Uber oder Lyft? Welches ist günstiger? Sind beide Optionen? Dies ist die Recherche, die Sie durchführen müssen, bevor Sie Ihr Ziel erreichen. Natürlich ist es auch keine schlechte Idee, beide Apps auf dem Telefon zu behalten.

Uber (links) und Lyft (rechts) unter iOS.

Wenn Sie sich in New York, DC oder Chicago befinden, haben Sie eine noch günstigere Option als Uber oder Lyft. Probieren Sie VIA aus, einen Fahrgemeinschafts-Service, der als Bus fungiert. Jeder freie Platz in einem VIA steht jedem VIA-Fahrer entlang der Route zur Verfügung. Da so viele VIA-Fahrer das gleiche Auto verwenden, sinken die Kosten. Es ist eine großartige Option, um Geld zu sparen, aber wegen der vielen Stopps ist es nicht die beste Zeit.

Alternative Transaktionsmodi

Wenn die Stadt, die Sie besuchen, über einen anständigen Publikationstransport verfügt, könnte dies eine der Möglichkeiten sein 39 unterstützt von CityMappper. CityMapper ist wie Google Maps, aber speziell für den öffentlichen Verkehr, und wir meinen . CityMapper sagt Ihnen, auf welcher Straßenseite sich Ihre U-Bahn-Einfahrt befindet, in welches U-Bahn-Auto Sie einsteigen sollten, wo Sie abfahren sollten usw. Es möchte, dass Sie wissen, wie wichtig es ist, dass Sie so schnell wie menschlich dorthin gelangen möglich.

CityMapper wird auf einem iPhone verwendet.

Vergessen Sie nicht, die Apps zu überprüfen, die von den Transportdiensten des Landes und / oder der Stadt, die Sie besuchen, erstellt wurden. Städte wie Paris und London verfügen über hervorragende offizielle Apps, um Ihren Zug zu finden und effizient unterwegs zu sein. Stellen Sie einfach Ihr Ziel auf Google und prüfen Sie, ob eine offizielle App für Sie verfügbar ist.

  • Installieren Sie Visit London: Android (kostenlos) | iOS (kostenlos)
  • Installieren Sie RAPT – Subway Paris: Android (kostenlos) | iOS (kostenlos)
Besuchen Sie London (links) und RAPT (rechts) unter iOS.

If Die Stadt unterstützt Bird oder Lime. Vielleicht möchten Sie sie ausprobieren. Beide Dienste bieten Scooter-Sharing an – Sie suchen einen Roller, fahren ihn ans Ziel und überlassen ihn dem nächsten Fahrer.

Offline-Straßen- und U-Bahn-Karten

Wir werden in einem anderen Abschnitt über das Speichern von Daten sprechen. Wenn Sie jedoch wissen, dass Sie in ein Gebiet reisen möchten, in dem ein Mobilfunknetz nur sehr wenig vorhanden ist oder Sie Ihre Daten aufgrund der hohen internationalen Gebühren aufbewahren müssen, sollten Sie den Offline-Modus in Ihrer Navigations-App verwenden.

Apple Maps und Google Maps können auf einfache Weise den Offline-Modus aktivieren, um eine sichere Navigation unabhängig von Ihrer aktuellen Mobilfunkverbindung zu gewährleisten. Waze bot früher den Offline-Modus an, verwarf jedoch die Funktion. Es ist bis zu einem gewissen Grad sinnvoll, da es sich bei der App um Echtzeit-Verkehrsinformationen handelt.

Die bereits erwähnten Apps wie CityMapper und Visit London bieten auch Offline-Karten an. Überprüfen Sie die Metro-App der Stadt, um zu sehen, ob sie auch Offline-Karten und Navigation unterstützt. Noch besser ist es, die Ulmon's CityMaps2Go-App auszuprobieren. Sie können interaktive Karten für die Offline-Verwendung von überall auf der Welt herunterladen. Sie erhalten jedoch nur einen kostenlosen Karten-Download. Wenn Sie also Ihre Änderung nicht ausgeben möchten, sollten Sie dies zählen (wir empfehlen, eine Karte für Ihr gesamtes Land und nicht nur für die Stadt herunterzuladen, um den kostenlosen Download zu maximieren.)

CityMapps2Go wird auf einem iPhone verwendet.

2. Wenn Sie sich hinter dem Lenkrad befinden, günstiges Gas finden

Wenn Sie ein Auto auf Ihrer Reise haben, ist eine der Hauptkosten – sofern Ihr Unternehmen nicht dafür zahlt – Benzin. Während die Gaspreise sicherlich höher waren, waren sie auch billiger. Anstatt ziellos auf der Suche nach dem besten Gas-Deal herumzufahren, lassen Sie Ihr Telefon die Arbeit für Sie erledigen?

GasBuddy ist eine großartige Lösung, um das billigste Gas in den USA oder Kanada zu finden. Es ist nicht nur sehr einfach, lokale Tankstellen von den günstigsten bis zu den teuersten zu sortieren. Die App bietet außerdem unterhaltsame Funktionen, wie "GasBack" -Prämien und Herausforderungen, die Gewinnern kostenloses Gas bieten. For other countries, you may have to just trust your gut, and Apple Maps, Google Maps, and the like can help you find the stations (Google Maps sometimes displays gas prices too, but not everywhere).

GasBuddy in use on an iPhone.

3. Use Language Translation Services

Easy — download Google Translate. There's nothing better for real-time communication. Using Google Translate's audio input, you can speak in English, and your friend can read your words in their native language. Then, they can speak in their language, and you can read what they're saying in English. This can all happen in a real-time conversation, no need to switch back-and-forth in the app.

Google Translate works great on Android, but also on iOS.

If you aren't in need of full conversations, your phone's digital assistant should do just fine. In fact, Google Assistant has Google Translate built right in, so you'll have access to Google's large library of languages. Siri, on the other hand, can now translate English into nine languages, and eight foreign languages into English — it's not nearly as useful as Google, but if you're on iOS, it's certainly better than nothing.

Learn Other Languages

If you have the time to dedicate to learning your temporary country's language, try downloading DuoLingo to pick up some vocab. DuoLingo offers you a fun and interactive way to learn languages, using bright illustration, smart lessons, and an overall engaging experience to do so. The app features 68 courses over 28 different languages, so there's a high chance the language you need is covered here.

DuoLingo being used on an iPhone.

4. Find Cheap, Last-Minute Accommodations

Hotel plans fall through? Forget to book a room? Look, anything can happen when traveling abroad. Luckily, there's Hostelworld, an app that offers an easy way to book cheap hostels in your area. You book in-app, using your current location to find the cheapest yet highest-rated bookings around.

Even better, Hostelworld includes a feature called "Speak the World," translating up to 37 languages without needing to leave the app. If you forgot to download Google Translate, this option will certainly come in handy.

If you're looking for something a bit less bohemian, Airbnb can be a good option. Just make sure to double-check the reviews for each accommodation, and make sure you know what you're getting yourself into. Some units are private houses or apartments, but many times, you're simply renting a room in an occupied home.

5. Convert Measurement Units Abroad

Yes, America insists on using the imperial system while nearly the entire world relies on metric units. We're special, right? Unfortunately, that specialness doesn't make converting units easy. Who has time to change miles to kilometers in their head? Do you know how much 550 mL of beer is? No, of course not.

Enter: your phone. For quick conversions, just ask Siri or Google Assistant. For most conversions, you should have an answer as soon as you ask. Of course, sometimes you need something with more control. If you're looking to make some serious calculations, go with a true conversion app.

While the marketplace is rife with cheap apps for conversion, we've found one on each platform that's highly trusted amongst users. You should feel secure using whichever app applies to your phone.

Tip 7: Finding Cool Things to Do in a New Country

Getting to your destination is just half the battle. What you're going to do when you get there is the other half. New countries are daunting, and it can be difficult to know what the best things to do are just by winging it. Use the following apps, however, and you won't have to.

1. Let Review Apps Plan Your Entire Stay

Food, museums, tours, bars, hotspots, and more. Every country has its own, but it takes a local to know the best from the lame. Luckily, you don't need to actually know a local to find these places — just download a crowdsourced review app. Let people who have experienced your current country let you know what's what. If that bar sucks, they'll let you know. If that gelato stand rocks, you'll see that right away.

Undoubtedly, the international kings of digital tour guides are TripAdvisor and Yelp. In many, many countries, these two apps can be the difference between an incredible vacation and one where you get food poisoning.

Yelp on iOS (left) vs. TripAdvisor on Android (right).

Of course, there are other options than these apps for help getting around. Navigation apps do more than GPS — Apple Maps shows reviews from popular local apps such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, Foursquare, and Pages Jaunes, and lets you book tables directly in-app. Google Maps shows Google Reviews, a highly popular platform which can be extremely helpful when trying to book dinner or an event. You can even buy tickets like you can with TripAdvisor.

2. Try More Local-Specific Review Apps

So, your temporary country doesn't support Yelp and Apple Maps isn't much help. Bummer. Before you wander into restaurants willy-nilly, think — what would the locals use? For example, OpenRice is the Yelp of Asia, Zomato has the market concerned in Australia and New Zealand, and FoodPanda covers a wide variety of countries like Austria, Canada, Finland, France, India, Bulgaria, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Pakistan.

When it comes down to it, you need to do a little research into the country you're heading to. What food apps does it support? Download whichever ones it does, and you'll be eating like a king.

OpenRice (left), Zomato (middle), FoodPanda (right).

3. Be Led by a Pro with Travel Guides

While the above apps are all great in their own right, sometimes it's best to ask a professional. True travel guide apps are fantastic ways of hearing from experts in the city you're visiting. These apps use true-and-tested testimonials from people who know the cities inside and out. You know you're in good hands when you use one of these apps.

Ulmon, created of CityMaps2Go, has a travel app named Ulmon Guides. In it, you can download offline travel guides to the cities of your choice, so no matter your data situation, you can follow the advice of someone who knows what they're talking about. Funny enough, it appears Ulmon makes on iOS app for all guides but makes individual apps for each city for Android. If you use Android, you'll just have to search the Play Store for your city.

Lonely Planet has a similar app, featuring guides to over 200 cities, all in one app on either platform. Michelin also has a Michelin Travel app that has 30,000 points of interest covered in about 80 countries, with reviews from professional Michelin writers and its trademark ratings for restaurants, tours, and other destinations.

If you're in the mood for an audio tour, you can give Rick Steve's Audio Europe a spin, featuring over a hundred tours in 17 regions and countries of Europe. While the app hasn't been optimized for newer iPhones in quite some time, the audio is still as relevant as always, and they make a great companion to Rick's famous guidebooks.

  • Install Ulmon Guides: Android (free) | iOS (free)
  • Install Guides by Lonely Planet: Android (free) | iOS (free)
  • Install Michelin Travel: Android (free) | iOS (free)
  • Install Rick Steves Audio Europe: Android (free) | iOS (free)
Ulmon Guides (left), Guides by Lonely Planet (middle), Rick Steves (right).

On Amazon: Available Travel Guidebooks by Rick Steves for Italy, Paris, Ireland, Portugal, Germany, Ireland & More

Tip 8: Staying Connected in a Foreign Country

If you're traveling out of the country you'll have to decide on how you'll stay connected. There are three main ways: 1. Stick with your local data provider and check out their international plan; 2. Get a local SIM card; or 3. Stick with Wi-Fi only.

1. Use International Data Plans

If you think carrier plans in the US are expensive and confusing, just wait until you try working with them abroad. It can be truly difficult to pick the right data plans for your travel needs. Carriers make things perplexing seemingly on purpose, don't give the full story, overcharge while abroad, etc. To pick the plan that's right for you, you'll need a little guidance, and we can help you out with that.

2. Use Your SIM Card/s Wisely

Do you think much about your SIM card? Perhaps not — most of us know it's tucked away in our phones, but never really think about it until we need to switch devices. When traveling internationally, however, SIMs are a major consideration. Your phone is your lifeline, but your SIM is what keeps it useful.

Image by Silvie Lindemann/Pexels

You have plenty of options when it comes to the types of SIM cards you go with for your trip. Firstly, you'll want to look into unlocking your iPhone or Android device to untie it from your carrier. Why trap yourself with AT&T when there's a whole world of SIM possibilities out there?

Now, let's talk SIMs. You can always wait until you get to your destination and buy a local SIM card if your phone is unlocked. Airports, subways, and other tourist areas have SIMs readily available to buy, so you shouldn't have trouble finding one. That isn't the only option, however. Consider Flexiroam — the SIM designed for phones without dual SIM capabilities. Flexiroam adds a microSIM to the SIM already in your phone and allows you to purchase international data plans at your leisure. Pretty convenient.

If you have a dual SIM device — such as the iPhone XSXS Max, or XR — you could also go for an eSIM. Well, that language is a bit misleading. These phones already have an eSIM embedded into the device itself. What you need is a service, like GigSky or Truphone that can activate that eSIM and give you access to international carriers while abroad. See this list from Apple for eSIM supporters.

Don't have an iPhone? Well, while not the most popular feature in the US, there are plenty of Android devices that have dual-SIM capabilities. The only problem is, they need to be the unlocked or international versions, usually GSM-only (not good if your US carrier uses CDMA), as most US-based models omit dual-SIM functionality. Unlocked models of the OnePlus 5, 5T, 6, and 6T have dual SIMs, and the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL, as long as it's running Android 10.0 or higher, is similar to iPhone with a physical SIM and eSIM. You can do a search on Amazon easily for "dual-SIM" Android phones.

3. Connect via Wi-Fi Only

Look, data plans are expensive, even when going through alternative sources. Unlimited data is a luxury, but one that you might not really need. If you want to save some money and choose a plan that gives you a small amount of essential data, you'll want to spend most of your trip connected to Wi-Fi only.

Staying connected to Wi-Fi can be tricky when in a new place, but it isn't impossible. Consider services like WiFi Finder or even Facebook — both offer users ways to locate the nearest public Wi-Fi hotspots, including the name of the actual network you'll connect to.

WiFi Finder (left) and Facebook (right).

"Why don't I just use the hotel's Wi-Fi?" you ask, justifiably. Of course, you can connect to your own hotel's network, but you might not want to. While free hotel Wi-Fi is the norm in the States, traveling abroad is another story. Depending on the country and the hotel selection, Wi-Fi might be charged by the hour or day. Why not take a page from many hotels in the US, where the free Wi-Fi is awful, but with better speeds locked behind a paywall?

4. Save on Your Limited Data Plan

You can try your best to stick just to Wi-Fi use but, just like at home, Wi-Fi isn't everywhere. Eventually, you're going to need to use your purchased data plan. That doesn't mean you need to waste it.

Background App Refresh

Ah, background data refresh. As a retail tech employee, one of my most-asked questions was about this confusing setting. "Do I need this enabled?" "Will I lose functionality if I disable it?"

Here's a brief refresher: The setting allows your apps to act as if they're open, even when you're doing something else on your phone. Twitter will be able to check for new tweets, so when you return to the app, you'll see them right away instead of needing to wait or reload. It's a handy feature for efficiency, but not one for conservative data use.

Disabling this background feature is a bit of a reverse devil's bargain. Yes, you might need to refresh your apps by hand, but you'll save both data and battery life (all those apps pinging their servers takes its toll on your phone's energy).

On iOS, you'll find "Background App Refresh" in Settings –> General –> Background App Refresh. While you can pick and choose the apps to disable Background App Refresh for, we recommend tapping "Background App Refresh" up top and setting it to "Wi-Fi" or "Off," especially when traveling.

Background App Refresh on iOS.

You'll find similar options on Android by heading to Settings –> Network & internet –> Data usage –> Mobile data usage. On some devices, it may be in Settings –> Connections –> Data usage –> Mobile data usage. Other Android phones may be slightly different. Tap on an app's name from this list, then disable something like "Background data" or "Allow background data usage." If your phone has a "Data saver" setting, you can toggle that on to limit data in the background overall.

Data usage settings on Android.

Fetch Data

Like the above settings, Fetch attempts to pull data for certain apps in the background. Fetch differs slightly, however, as it involves apps that pull data from a server at regular intervals, like email or calendar apps.

Make sure these apps don't drain your data while traveling. On iOS, you'll find Fetch in Settings –> Passwords & Accounts –> Fetch New Data. Here, you'll see all accounts and apps on your iPhone that use Fetch. First of all, ensure "Push" is disabled. That will block these services from getting new data as soon as it becomes available. Once you do, move down to "Fetch." You'll need to select "Manually" here, as this option will ensure data is only pulled when you request it.

Fetch on iOS.

On Android, head to Settings –> Accounts, or it could be in Settings –> Cloud and accounts –> Accounts. Here, you'll see all accounts on your device that sync data in the background. There could also be an "Auto sync data" or "Automatically sync data" toggle. If you turn that off, fetch will no longer be an issue. If you only want to do individual items, tap each account, then tap each connected service. Ensure the slider in each service is disabled. If no slider appears, your job is done for you.

Fetch on Android.

Podcast Downloads

Listen to podcasts? That's great. What's not great is how huge podcast files are. These things are massive, and, unfortunately, podcast apps love to automatically download new episodes for "your convenience." Over Wi-Fi, this isn't usually an issue, unless your phone's internal storage is tiny (looking at you, 16 GB iPhone models). But if the app happens to be set to download over cellular, that's when you run into trouble.

Don't let your podcast app of choice drain your valuable international data. Dive into its settings, and make sure automatic downloads are either set to off or, at the very least, set to "Wi-Fi Only." Each app will have a different way to access the settings, so we can't show them all.

Apple Podcasts (left) and Overcast settings (right) on iOS.

5. Use a VPN to Stay Incognito Online

Do you use a VPN? Do you like being spied on? We know you don't, but if aren't using a VPN, you're just opening your internet traffic for anyone with a cause to see.

The problem is, VPNs, in general, are pretty confusing. There's a lot of misinformation out there, obfuscating what VPNs are really all about. That's why we spent a long time working on our VPN guide, to ensure you get the most accurate picture of how VPNs work and how they can help you stay private online.

Protect your browsing abroad — download a VPN before your trip.

6. Message Freely, No Matter Where You Are

Apple's iMessage is equal parts awesome and a pain. The actual service itself is excellent, chock-full of features to make communicating across your Apple devices fun and engaging. However, it's easily the reason it's so difficult to switch between iPhone and Android. Not only that, iPhone and Android friends have a difficult time communicating on the same platform unless you want to stick with — shudders — SMS.

That's why going with a popular third-party messaging app is good for so many people. Whether you're on Android or iOS, communicating with the same app is ubiquitous. You just need to be on the same app. Easier said than done.

Before heading out for your trip, check in with the friends and family you'd like to stay in touch with. See what platform everyone uses, and go with the one that's most popular. Or, start a campaign to get everyone on the same page.

Undoubtedly, the most popular messaging apps when traveling abroad are WhatsApp, Viber, and Facebook Messenger. If you're not short on space, we'd recommend you download all three. That way, you'll have more options for messaging, in case you make friends who use one app over another.

Tip 9: Keeping Yourself Entertained During Downtime

Long flight? Have some time to kill in the hotel? Gone are the days of being restricted to airport books, magazines, and local TV. Your phone is a personal curator of your favorite media. Make sure to set yourself up for entertainment success before hitting the road.

1. Download Movies & TV for Offline Viewing

Thanks to the ease of streaming movies and TV have never been better or more accessible. Of course, it's not just streaming. You can download these titles to take on the go as well, saving mightily on your data plan and keeping entertainment in reach when service is nonexistent.

2. Try Some Offline Games

An annoying trend in mobile games is the need for your phone to be connected to cellular data in order to play the game. Game Boys never gave us this much trouble. Luckily, there are still developers out there who aren't so greedy that their games need to send ads to your device to work. Go ahead and give their games a try on your next trip. Just remember to play with the internet when possible to give them some ad revenue.

3. Download Books for Quiet Relaxation

Contrary to popular sentiment, millennials aren't killing books. In fact, both digital and print books are alive and well. If you'd prefer to keep the reading materials to your mobile device, you have plenty of options to do so on both Android and iOS.

If you want to stick to native apps, both devices have their own digital bookstores — Apple Books and Google Play Books — to download titles from. If you want to try one of their competitors, however, Kindle is always an option on either platform. Amazon's option is often cheaper than Apple or Google's, so it's good to check prices across platforms.

Apple Books on iOS (left) and Google Play Books on Android (right).

4. Have Someone Else Read to You

Don't feel like reading yourself? Hire someone else to do it. More specifically, download an audiobook. Apple and Google both sell audiobooks on their platforms, but you can find more options on Audible as well (like Kindle, owned by Amazon).

Audible is free to download, but does require a monthly subscription starting at $14.95/month, which gives you a credit (or credits) for audiobooks, in addition to discounts on additional audiobooks. If you listen to enough podcasts, however, you're bound to run into a free trial for the service.

Try Audible Out for 30 Days Free for 2 Audiobooks & 2 Audible Originals at No Cost

Audible being used on an iPhone.

5. Download Podcasts Beforehand

Speaking of podcasts, download some before your trip! If you aren't into podcasts, don't worry — there is literally something for everyone. What are you into? History? True crime? Politics? Talk shows? There's a podcast — scratch that, tons of podcasts — for any interest you could possibly have.

Just as there's a never-ending supply of podcasts to explore, there's a never-ending supply of podcast apps as well. Of course, Google and Apple both have stock podcast apps, but each platform has plenty of third-party alternatives. Here's just a taste of some of the best you can download:

Overcast on iOS (left) and Google Podcasts on Android (right).

6. Download Music You Know You'll Want to Listen To

Portable music was really the first step into these digital media machines we carry around in our pockets. Napster and MP3 players, iTunes and the iPod. Today, we have iPhone and Android, but they still have the same basic principles when it comes to downloading music — plug in some headphones, sit back, and let the tunes wash over you.


Nowadays, the trend is less about buying music and more about subscribing to services that let us listen to virtually anything we want whenever we want. And the majority of streaming services allow for downloads to listen to music offline, so you can download all your favorite music — or music you want to try out — before you head on your trip.

No doubt, Apple Music and Spotify are the kings in this field, directly competing for users as the two grow bigger and bigger. Still, Google puts up a good fight with YouTube Music, as the service includes YouTube Premium as well. It's not quite as good as the former, but it's tough to argue with offline and background playback for both YouTube Music and videos.

Spotify on Android (left) and Apple Music on iOS (right). Image by Nelson Aguilar/Gadget Hacks

Another service you gain access to with YouTube Music is Google Play Music. You might not want to use it, though. Google Play Music is essentially the same as YouTube Music, but a bit of a relic, as Google has unabashedly put all their development into YouTube Music. The former is much more up-to-date aesthetically. Still, Google Play Music works, so feel free to use it instead if you want a little nostalgia kick.

Tidal is another good service that allows offline playback, even for its high-fidelity tracks. But for those lossless hi-fi tracks, you'll be paying double ($19.99/month) than for the service without it ($9.99/month). Either way, both versions have over 75,000 music videos and a song database of more than 60 million.

Possibly the black sheep of the group is Amazon's service, but if you subscribe to Prime, you get Prime Music for free. It's limited to about two million songs but might offer a nice way to save some money by cutting out one of the other services here. However, Amazon also has Amazon Music Unlimited with over 50 million songs, which is available without a Prime account, and Prime users can get a discount on its $9.99/month price tag.

  • Install Apple Music: Android (free) | iOS (free)
  • Install Spotify Music: Android (free) | iOS (free)
  • Install YouTube Music: Android (free) | iOS (free)
  • Install Tidal Music: Android (free) | iOS (free)
  • Install Google Play Music: Android (free) | iOS (free)
  • Install Amazon Music: Android (free) | iOS (free)

Try Out Amazon Music Unlimited for 30 Days Free (New Subscribers Only)

Purchased Music

If you have music on your iTunes library on your computer, you can sync that content with your phone as you always have. However, if you use iTunes Match or simply buy music from iTunes, you may have all of your music in iCloud, and in either scenario, you can download those tracks onto your phone for offline use.

The same is true if you buy from and store music on Amazon or Google's cloud music services. And while you can purchase music on Tidal, you cannot download those files on your phone via its app. Downloading your tracks on supported services works similarly to downloading subscription tracks.

Tip 10: Logging Everything You Do

What's the point of going on vacation if you can't brag about it to your friends back home? We're just kidding, but logging your trip can be a fun way to both relive the memories when you're back at the office or to share with your followers on social media. There are plenty of ways to make sure your trip is properly cataloged:

1. Use Camera & Editing Apps to Make Your Shots Look Great

Need a short list of apps and services that can transform your vacation pics? We have plenty of guides on the subject, from apps you can download to the apps already on your device. You don't need to go far to totally transform your phone's pictures:

2. Use These Apps to Make a Great Story

The apps above will help you take and make some great shots. But what if you want to take those shots to social media? We know all the apps you need to download to make a perfect story, from extra photo apps, to collage and template apps, to video croppers and editors. We know where the best stickers can be found and, overall, how to make your stories look professional.

3. Document Your Trip with a Journaling App

You don't just need to use your phone's stock notes app to record your journeys. Journaling apps can provide plenty of features to ensure each moment you want to document is properly conveyed. Rich text formatting, images, colors, organization, and more can help take your trip from your experience to the digital page.

Day One Journal is what you'd expect from a good journaling app — plenty of options, easy to navigate, an overall joy to document with. Reflectly is the same way, but adds another element with fun, automated journaling features. The app basically interviews you to streamline the journaling process — it asks how certain parts of your day made you feel, what you did, etc. It's a lot of fun, but does include a $29.99 yearly fee after the seven-day free trial.

If you'd rather not pay, Day One Journal might be more up your alley.

Day One Journal on iOS (left) and Reflectly on Android (right).

4. Prepare to Take Lots of Video

If you checked out our story apps roundup, you'll see there are apps to help you take and edit amazing video on your trip. However, none of that will be useful if you don't take the time to prep your phone first.

Here's the thing — video files are big today, where 4K videos on iPhone take up as much as 400 MB a minute, meaning a base model 64 GB iPhone can store roughly 2.6 hours of video (and that's ignoring system resources, so the number will really be a lot smaller). Android devices will take up similar amounts of space. We know you're going to keep apps and other media on your phone, so if you want to take a lot of video on your trip, make sure to leave room to do so.

Another tip? Lower the resolution of your video. Shoting 4K video at 60 fps will take up 400 MB per minute on iPhone, but 1080p 60 fps will only take up 90 MB. Again, Android phones will be similar. Still, this is your vacation we're talking about here. You want your video as high quality as possible. In that case, we recommend lowering your frame rate only if possible. Shoot at 4K/30 or 4K/24. The video files will still be large, but much smaller than 4K/60.

If you don't want to lose any quality and still have little built-in storage, if you have an Android device that supports microSD cards, make sure to buy one of those and use that to store all your video files on. If you don't have an option for internal expandable storage, you're next best option is USB flash drives. Depending on the port on your phone, that could be Lightning (iPhone), Micro-USB (Android), or USB Type-C (Android).

On Amazon: microSD Cards | Lightning USB Flash Drives for iPhone | Micro-USB Flash Drives for Android | USB-C Flash Drives for Android

Conclusion — Traveling Requires a Lot of Phone Care

You can't leave for a trip and expect everything to be the same as it as home. You need to make sure you have the tools necessary to keep yourself on task, entertained, and secure.

Apps like TripAdvisor can ensure you hit up the restaurants and hotspots the locals do. Uber can get you home safe when you don't know where you are. And navigation apps like Apple Maps, Google Maps, and Waze can do the same when you're the one behind the wheel.

Making sure you download the right entertainment ahead of time isn't just good for keeping yourself busy during long flights or restless nights in the hotel room — you'll make sure you avoid crazy data charges from your network as well.

Your phone can also keep you secure — digital wallets can encrypt your payments, Emergency SOS can attract law enforcement in times of need, and there's plenty you can do to make sure your data is safe whether in a thief's hand or in security's.

Traveling can be tough, but with the right prep, your phone can keep you grounded. Just make sure to keep it charged.

Cover image and screenshots by Jake Peterson/Gadget Hacks, unless otherwise noted

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