Tech Tips – Travelling with your iPhone or iPad

Travelling with your iPhone/iPad

Simply Computing Travel blog

The Dilemma

Many of us consider our iPad and/or iPhone an indispensable tool in our everyday lives, but should you take it with you when you go on holiday?

Some people travel specifically to “unplug”. There are also lots of things you definitely shouldn’t do if your device accompanies you on vacation. These include checking your work email, making expensive long-distance calls and running up huge data charges by forgetting to switch off your apps’ automatic updates. Personally, we think you should absolutely bring your iPhone/iPad on your next vacation.

Here’s 10 reasons why:

  1. Travel Alerts

    The world isn’t always as predictable as we might like. Why not let your iPhone/iPad warn you about potential problems? Transit delays, labour strikes, inclement weather and, God forbid, terrorist attacks can all ruin a perfectly planned holiday. Knowing about such problems as soon as the occur can be essential in mitigating their impact. Several free apps can help with this, including Waze, Accuweather and App in the Air. Setting up a Google alert for local news can help keep you abreast of emergencies. Many airlines offer SMS texting if your flight is delayed.
  2. Mobile Check-In and Ticket Purchases

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    Waiting in line or searching for a printer are a waste of your previous vacation time. Why not use your iPad/iPhone to skip the cue and go paperless? Some airlines, including Air Canada, now have apps that allow you to check in and get a digital boarding pass, eliminating the need to stand in line to see a ticketing agent. Delta Air Lines has even gone a step further, automatically checking in passengers who download the most recent version of their app.

    Many tourist attractions, including museums and theatres, allow you to pre-book or pre-purchase tickets via iPhone- and iPad-friendly websites. Such e-purchases often involve a small fee, but can be well worth the extra cost at popular destinations such as the Vatican Museums and Colosseum where 2 to 3 hour ticket cues are not uncommon during the summer.

  3. In-Transit Entertainment

    Unless you have a private jet and limo, travelling to and from your destination can be long and uncomfortable. Why not let your iPhone/iPad entertain you along the way? With the storage capacity available on today’s devices, you should have no problem pre-loading your iPhone/iPad with tons of music, videos, games, e-books and audiobooks. Furthermore, e-books and audiobooks not only entertain, but also save space and weight in your luggage. Overdrive, Kindle and Kobo are all great free apps for this. Overdrive accesses items from your public library, while both Kindle and Kobo offer a limited selection of free novels.

  4. Planning as You Go

    Some people meticulously plan and book their vacation months in advance. Others prefer the freedom of winging it. If you fall in the latter category, why not use your iPhone/iPad to choose your activities and lodging as you go? Spur-of-the-moment vacationing can be exciting, but it can also leave you vulnerable to local price-gouging and wasted time.

    Although most people use sites like Expedia and before leaving home, these travel comparison sites are also available in app form for same-day bookings on the go. The Viator app can help you find last-minute guided tours with spots still available, while Time Out can help you purchase tickets to local concerts and events.

  5. Navigating a Strange City

    Simply Computing Travel Blog ipad

    Getting around in a strange city can be daunting. Why not employ your iPhone/iPad to keep from getting lost? By turning on your device’s GPS, you’ll always know where you are. This function can also be used within tourist-focussed navigation apps, such as Ulmon. The free version of Ulmon even includes one free CityMap2Go, which you can then personalize and use offline.

    If you’re going to hop aboard the local transit system, cities with extensive metro and bus routes like New York and Tokyo offer their own apps. Using a third-party app, however, can help you compare all your transit options. Citymapper, for example, is available for 30 cities and even includes Uber integration.

  6. Communicating with the Locals

    Not everyone speaks English and charade-like gestures can only get you so far. Why not let your iPhone/iPad be your translator? Even if you memorize some common tourist phrases in the local tongue before leaving home, you’re probably not going to be prepared for something like “our faucet is leaking” or “I lost my ticket.” Luckily there are free apps that can translate just about anything you might type in. Google Translate will even save you that step, translating text viewed through your camera, whether it be a street sign, brochure or menu.

  7. Touring

    Guided tours can be expensive, difficult to schedule and limiting in how much you see. Why not let your iPhone/iPad guide you instead? Every day more apps are being developed to tour visitors through popular destination. These often include detailed information on important sites, as well as instructions or audio-guides for walking and driving tours. Most of these apps require outright or in-app purchases, but some free options do exist.

    Rick Stevens’ Audio Europe, for example, is both free and an excellent resource for dozens of European locales. In addition to third-party apps, some museums, such as the USS Iowa in Palm Beach and Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome, have developed their own extensive audio-guides.

  8. Photos and Videos

    Simply Computing iPad travel blog

    The photo and video quality of iPads and iPhones has improved with each successive model. Why not ditch toting a separate camera and just use the iPhone/iPad you’re already carrying? By using your device as your camera, you can email or post photos immediately instead of waiting to get back to the hotel to download your camera’s SD card.

    With a portable and light-weight selfie stick, you can also avoid handing your device over to strangers. But be warned, more and more places, including Disney theme parks and the Palace of Versailles, are banning the use of these helpful aids.

  9. Money Matters

    Between currency exchange math and jetlag, keeping track of your finances on vacation can be a larger headache than at home. Why not let your iPhone/iPad to help with the math and expense tracking? Everyone wants to splurge a little on vacation, but most of us have to maintain some sort of budget. In a travel budget app, such as Trail Wallet or Trabee Pocket, you can set a daily budget, input receipts as you go and generate a report when you get home.

    You can also quickly calculate currency conversions to decide if something is worth purchasing. If you’re travelling with friends and need to split the bill, Splitwise or CostSplit will do all the math for you. In Splitwise you can even attach Paypal accounts to settle-up automatically and in CostSplit you can split expenses unevenly.

  10. Emergencies

    Sometimes bad things happen to good people on holiday. Why not carry your iPhone/iPad with you in case for extra security? With payphones gone the way of the dinosaur, it’s prudent carry a phone with which you can call emergency services, a cab or your embassy. It’s also the fastest way for your loved ones back home to get in touch if your house gets broken into or parent falls ill, for example. You can also store digital copies of your travel documents, including passport and travel/medical insurance policy, on your devices.


There you have it – 10 great reasons you should not only pack your iPhone/iPad on your next vacation, but also use it throughout for a better holiday experience! Just remember a few more things.

  • If you’re going overseas, you’ll probably need to purchase a travel adapter to recharge your device.
  • If you plan to make calls or use data, you should ask your provider about travel add-on packages instead of paying as you go.
  • In case of loss or theft, you should password protect all your important information and use iTunes to digitally back-up your device before leaving home.
  • It’s prudent to set up a Cloud account or pack a file storage device so you don’t run out of memory for all your amazing photos.

That’s it from this weeks Tech Tips blog, remember above all to stay safe while travelling and enjoy using your Apple devices to get the mostout of your vacations! Bon Voyage!

By Dan Daly