The Travellers Device
When previously I have travelled it was the guide book, the phrase book, the fantastic Lonely Planet tomb and maybe a travel journal that weighed down my bags, but now the game has changed, as the smart phone now rolls all of these into one and adds features that previously were unfathomable.
Google Translate is your own C3P0
Ok, you need Wifi or cellular, but you can pre set a whole lot of useful phrases and they will be available off line. Type your sentence, choose your to and from language and bada-bing you have the translation.
Additionally click one button and you have an audio file that bypasses tricky pronunciations and click another button and the translation goes full screen and is an easily read flash card.
Airline Apps – Mine is AirNZ mPass
It gives me up to date access to all my details, air-points, flight schedules, seating plan and even gives me a screen sized QR Code for quick check ins. Too Easy, cloud based and sign in protected.
Contact with the rest of the world
It was the postcard, then the collect call, next came the smoke filled cyber cafe and in my last experience it was the laptop at Starbucks. Now the options for connectivity make conversing globally only limited by time zone and Wifi; Skype, FaceTime, Snap Chat, Viber, WhatsApp and more. Then there is the travel blog that replaces the journal and is shareable with all you choose. If you don’t want to blog in words, just share the experience in a tweet, Facebook post or flick the image out to friends and family with Instagram.
Where to go and what to see
I got off the plane in Wellington this past summer, downloaded the bus timetable app using the airport’s wifi and then using my phones GPS and map app I was able to make it to my hotel without the need to ask for directions at a fraction of the price of the Airport Bus.
Ok, this was my home country, but it is the same in all cities in the world and might just take a bit more planning and patience in a place where English is not the mother tongue.
The where to go is so simple with your phones map and if you start walking the wrong way you will see it quickly on the map due to the GPS and when you want to get somewhere it will give you several options as well as time estimates.
Lonely Planet… Maybe not.
My Lonely Planet China is the most read and annotated book that I own, but although I will pack it when we move to China again it will be used as a trip planner, not as the travel bible that is was always at the top of my bag. Through reading travel blogs and using Apps like TripAdvisor I am able to find the travel tips and best places to visit at the click of a button. Additionally, they are updated daily, so recommendations tend to be more up to date than a 12 year old guide book – that restaurant it recommends could have changed hands 20 times since publication.
Keeping up with the news.
My last stint overseas was in a place where English was not spoken and there was not an English Newspaper to be found. Now I can keep up with the news at the click of an app.
Need a book to read?
I prefer the feel of an actual book in my hands, love the tatty travel paperback and there are expat book exchanges that spring up around the world. But it is handy that I have a score of books stored on my phone, many more in the cloud and I can buy and download any book I desire with a quick contact to amazon or the iBook store.
I could go on with more examples of how a well planned device pre trip will benefit you and my opinion after a good pair of shoes and a sturdy bag the smart phone is now the travellers most important item. I guess the only two things to remember is to pack your charger and turn of data roaming unless you want a surprise when you return home.