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Update your phones address book before you travel abroad

Update Your Phone’s Contact List with Places and People you Intend to Visit

Whether you are using your regular phone or a travel phone, make sure to add the phone numbers and address of the places (hotels, restaurants, friends, business associates, airlines) and people you plan on visiting to your contacts or address book. 

This will make calling and using maps easier (no need to look up numbers or google for contact details while you are traveling).

If you are planning on calling outside of the USA, make sure those numbers have the country code as part of their phone number.

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Use an app to create your detailed itinerary

If you on a multi destination journey it can be stressful trying to manage airline tickets, hotel reservation confirmation forms so why not let technology make it easier by using an app?

Free programs and apps like Tripit can make building your itinerary with related details (address, phone number, rate, confirmation number, flight details, dates, etc.) easy.  You can let the app read your email or just forward emails to Tripit (or similar apps) once you have an account.  The app will self-populate your itinerary.  No need to hunt around for the details while you are on the go.

Check it out here https://www.tripit.com

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How to pick a great restaurant while travelling

Choosing a restaurant when travelling can be daunting, you don’t want to be spending your travel time (and money) on poor experiences. There are a variety of apps that provide great reviews on restaurants. Try these when travelling around the USA.

While traveling in the USA, Yelp has a good website and apps are available for iOS and Android. Or you could try OpenTable – it’s a great way to get the opinions of the locals when choosing a restaurant or other venues.  We’ve found them very reliable (look for a high number of reviews and stars). OpenTable also lets you makes reservations online.  TripAdvisor is also an excellent source but Yelp and OpenTable are used by the locals.

The trick when using these type of apps is to try gauge the quality of the reviewers and look for restaurants that respond to reviews, it shows they care.

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How to share your location in realtime

Trying to explain where you are in a foreign city can be very confusing for everyone.  Also great for your family if you are going out for a walk, run, etc. 

Most of us use Whatsapp, and it’s simple enough to share your location via the app – another alternative if you are traveling or meeting others is Glympse, which is also a free app. Just remember sharing locations and using apps consume data so always ensure you have a local data bundle.

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How to download Google Maps for mobile and use offline

When travelling in a new city, it is often difficult to find your way and when you get lost always great to be able to open Google maps and re-orientate yourself and get back on track.

However mobile data roaming is expensive, and taking that path can end up costing you. I was travelling in Thailand in 2012 (before you could download offline maps) and we got lost trying to find a restaurant called Nikki Beach in Koh Samui (we had followed the websites directions but kept going around in circles) and ultimately I opened up Google Maps using roaming data to navigate us the last few miles. Lets just say the data usage cost me more than my lunch.

Google now allows you to download an area offline which will remain cached in your phone for 30 days.  

Most maps are 40-60 MB in size. To download an offline area, simply open Google Maps, type in the city /areas name in the search bar and once the area has loaded, hit the menu key (three horizontal lines on the left of the search bar), select “Offline Area” hit the + key at the bottom of the screen to add.

Offline Area’s will only download on a Wifi Connection.

See the detailed help article on Google Support on how to use Google maps offline

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What you need to know about free WiFi while travelling

While there is free wifi at many hotels, coffee shops, the service can be slow and is not necessarily secure.  Having extra high speed data on your phone can save time and frustration.  In the case of some hotels that charge for wifi, using your phone’s data (if you are using a local sim with a data bundle loaded) will also save you money.  

If you’re at a hotel that charges for wifi don’t forget that you can use your phone as a personal hotspot to support your computer or tablet.

Most restaurants in the USA have free wifi, just ask your waitron for the details.

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Tips about safety and security for travellers to USA

We’ve compiled a checklist and also created some helpful safety and security tips for you while travelling to the USA.

Emergency calls from a mobile

Under the GSM standard for mobile phones the universal emergency number which can be dialed anywhere where you have cell reception is 112. This number can be dialed with or without a sim or airtime.

Alternately for emergencies you can dial:

  • North America:  Dial 911
  • Europe and Africa: Dial 112
  • Australia: Dial 000
  • Calls are free of charge

Another option is save an ICE (in case of emergency) contact in your phone, ideally next of kin or your doctor. From the lock screen of Android and Apple phones a person (paramedic / first responder on the scene) can call this emergency number without having to know your passcode.

Don’t keep all credit cards together

Always leave some of your cards in the hotel safe in case you loose your wallet. Note that you may need to notify your bank in advance you will be traveling abroad.

Keep a copy of your passport

Make a copies of your passport and visa, then keep a paper copy at the hotel and a copy on your phone or stored in the cloud in Dropbox or any alternative. Ideally when out and about it is always good to travel with some alternate form of identification (drivers license) and leave your passport in the hotel safe.

Keeping hotel details handy

Most hotels have business cards which you can take with you so you can find your way back to the hotel or in case of an emergency. And in foreign language cities the address its great to be able to hand the card to your cab driver so they know where to take you.

Luggage Tips

Leave a home address card in you luggage in case the baggage tags are destroyed in transit.

Many bags look identical on the airport carousel.  Make you bag look unique by tying a coloured ribbon or coloured tape to your handle

Prepack you bags and create a checklist for last minute items (medications).  If you pack 48hrs in advance, you give yourself time to remember what you forgot.

Create a separate carry-on checklist… headphones, sweater, eye mask, book, empty water bottle (fill it up once though security), cable ties, safety pins, medicines, pen for immigration forms.

Emergency snack and water (bring empty bottle to the airport that you can  fill later) in case flight delays once you are on the plane.

Before You Travel Phone Checklist

We recommend trying the following apps before you travel:

Travel Apps

  • Whatsapp
  • Uber
  • Glympse
  • OpenTable
  • Yelp
  • Tripit
  • Here
  • Apps for the airlines you will be flying
  • Conversion  apps (currency / measurements)
  • International Clock (time zones)
  • Google Tanslate
  • Skype

Device Checklist

  • Smartphone is unlocked
  • Wall charger (one for each devise you will be charging)
    • US plug adapter (one for each wall charger)
  • Cables for wall chargers
  • Battery pack (for staying charged on the go)
    • Bring a backup battery with output of 1.5mA or better.  Airplane USBs and car USB ports do not output enough power to charge your phone while it is in use (especially true if you are using it as a GPS for driving).  Airplane seat standard outlets (vs the airplane USB) will supply enough power.  
  • Car charger

If you plan to use WhatsApp 

  • Make sure your friends and family are on Whatsapp.  Domestic and International messaging and calling is free and easy if you have a wifi or data connection
  • When you arrive in the USA, change your phone number in WhatsApp on your phone (Settings > Accounts > Change Phone Number)

Change you phone number on Uber before you leave

  • Change your phone number to your travel number (do this online just before you leave).  This way you can easily coordinate with the driver if there is any pickup issue

Download Here Maps

  • Download relevant maps for offline use

And of course, your Limo service

  • Make sure they know your local phone number in case any pickup issues