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Get connected while on holiday

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These days, a mobile phone is far more than just a communication device – it’s a portable computer, an interactive map and a whole library’s worth of information, all at your fingertips.

If you are planning a holiday your phone can become an essential tool in both the planning phase and while you are enjoying your time away.

Whether it’s booking flights and checking departure times, finding your way around the airport, connecting with services during travel or downloading travel guides on arrival, your smartphone can play a role in virtually every aspect of the holiday experience.

Your phone can also access apps that can help you do almost anything. For the uninitiated, an ‘app’ or application, is a software program that you download and access directly on your smartphone. For example, apps can offer guides for nearby attractions, suggest the best driving routes, help you speak the language, or tell you where the next petrol station is. They can also help you build shopping lists and track travelling expenses.

There are apps for reading books on your phone; for helping you when you’re out bird watching, fishing, hiking or visiting national parks; for finding camping spots, for playing games; and even ones that allow you to monitor your medical indicators.

Here are some more tips for how mobile phones can help take the stress out of a holiday:

1. GPS is essential

All smartphones have it and it has become an indispensable tool to use while away on holiday. A GPS can help you on a simple road trip across your own country or it can even make a foreign city come alive, not only allowing you to negotiate it easily enough but also pointing out places of interest. Some GPS apps even allow you to download city maps and use them offline.

2. Trip planning

A poorly planned holiday can end up being far more stressful than if you had just stayed at home! Planning your holiday itinerary thoroughly and scheduling daily activities in each of the holiday places you visit, means you can spend less time on ‘admin’ while you are there and more time making the most of your time away.

There are many apps, or features within your smartphone itself, that allow you to do this on your mobile phone. After you have setup your itinerary, you can mail it to yourself and even print multiple copies for your family or companions travelling with you while keeping a copy on your smartphone as well.

Important things to include are flight numbers and times, hotel names and contact numbers as well as phone numbers for taxi services in each and every location you visit.

3. Airport apps

Did you know that you can actually store your boarding pass on your smartphone? If you are flying with one of the world’s major airlines, you can now use your smartphone to board a plane. This means you can use a self-service check-in without the need to stand in long queues to get a printed ticket.

In most cases, you will need to download a QR code onto your phone from the airline’s website. This is then scanned at the terminal allowing you to board the plane quickly and efficiently.

4. Use your smartphone as a key

Latest technology has allowed many hotels to introduce a system where your smartphone, through a specialised app for each individual hotel, acts as a door key. The great thing about these apps also means that you can arrange everything before you reach the hotel, allowing you to skip the concierge desk completely and go directly to your room.

5. Getting around

When travelling, your safety is paramount. Public transport is not always accessible in all places, especially if you are out late at night. There are many apps available for taxi services, normally for each specific transport company. If you want something universal, consider using Uber, fast becoming the transport option of choice for tourists around the world.

Then there is also:

  • Google translate to help with foreign languages
  • Weather apps to ensure you don’t get caught out with the wrong clothes as you explore the city.
  • Consider a currency conversion app to make converting to local currency far easier.

BUT BEWARE:

The convenience of using your mobile phone while on holiday, particularly when travelling overseas, can sometimes be outweighed by the cost. We’ve all heard stories about people returning from their trip abroad to find they have unknowingly run up thousands of dollars in bills on their mobile.

To help you get the most cost-effective use of your mobile device, we’ve compiled a few tips:

1. Turn off data roaming to avoid costly downloads.

2. If you feel you must maintain your global roaming, then purchase pre-paid roaming. Most major service providers offer packages.

3. Most hotels and cafes now have acceptable wi-fi, so ask for that all important wi-fi password at reception or search your smartphone for wi-fi networks. You can then also communicate with family and friends via Facebook, or use apps such as Skype, iMessage or WhatsApp.

4. Restrict background apps running.

5. Plan ahead and download your music, films, apps, games and books over wi-fi before you travel.

6. Buy a local in-country sim card, yes it’s a change of number but it will be a lot cheaper than using roaming.

7. Do you really need to talk to friends and family whilst you are on holiday? Text messaging is much cheaper and using messaging apps over wi-fi is free.

So enjoy all that mobile technology has to offer, but be savvy and make sure your mobile phone makes your holiday a memorable one for the right (not the wrong and expensive) reasons!