When I travel, I make good use of technology to make things easier for myself. I tend to spend less money, find places more easily, eat better food, and have an overall good travel experience.
Here are the top five things I do that will hopefully make your next vacation as awesome as mine have been.
1. Enjoy Internet wherever you go
One of the first things I do when I get to my destination is get a local sim card for my unlocked phone. This is so that I can get Internet without having to rely on finding Wi-Fi areas which can be time consuming, require a purchase, or difficult to connect to. Prepaid sim cards are usually inexpensive and often sold right at the airport.
Not only is having Internet access wherever you go extremely handy, but having a local phone number is great for making those last minute dinner reservations. Don’t forget to check out our other article on “top tips when using your mobile phone overseas”.
2. Navigate the city like the locals (well, almost…)
You know the directories you see in shopping centres that have that “you are here” pin? Well, Ulmon is pretty much like having one of those in your pocket for an entire city. It’s a map app for your Apple or Android smartphone that does not require an Internet connection, and responds extremely fast. It’s filled with points of interest and user reviews as well, so you can easily find cool places around you.
3. Avoid dining at the tourist traps
Whether I’m home or on vacation, I will not eat out without consulting UrbanSpoon for restaurant ratings first. It’s available as an app or a website, and has ratings, contact details, menus, photos, and user reviews for local bars and restaurants.
I created an account so that I can save all the restaurants I want to try on a wish list and also keep track of all the places I’ve tried along with my dining experience. Its searching capabilities allow you to filter by proximity, rating, price, neighbourhood and cuisine; so unless UrbanSpoon isn’t available in your area, you shouldn’t have any major disappointments. (Urbanspoon has a complete list of areas that are covered.)
4. Keep your tour guide in your pocket
All around the globe, people are checking in places with Foursquare. These people form a community of 50 million people leaving feedback, tips, and taking photos.
A couple of weeks ago, I travelled alone to Bangkok. When checking in to my hotel, people had left so many useful tips about the hotel and nearby places. For example, there was a nearby ATM that didn’t charge you any withdrawal fees, a Thai massage parlour that gave better rates for hotel guests, and a shopping centre that had a weekly Muay Thai fight night that I would have otherwise missed. People’s photos also make it easier to find places because sometimes addresses aren’t enough to find a place.
One of my favourite things about Foursquare is the history of all the places I’ve checked in because I often forget or confuse the places I’ve visited.
5. Remember where you see things
Prior to smartphones, I used to take hundreds of photos using my camera. Unfortunately, I have forgotten where most of those photos were taken.
My ultimate solution to this problem is Instagram; an app primarily used to share your photos with the option of applying a nice filter to unleash your creativity. For me, its beauty lies in the location information automatically captured in your photos so that later on you can look at all the photos you’ve taken on a map. So the next time you forget which city your gorgeous skyline shot belongs to, you can always find out thanks to Instagram.