Summer time is travel time for a lot of folks here in the US and abroad. In the US, at least, it’s a time for families with kids home from school to head out into the great wide world and see places, people, and resorts across the country.
Traveling with an iPhone is inevitable. If you’re heading abroad or staying in your own country, there are tips, tricks, and potential pitfalls when using your calling and data plans. There are lots of apps, cases, and extra power solutions out there, as well. We’ve spent a little time figuring some of this out so you don’t have to. Keep reading for some great tips on using your iPhone when you’re traveling. As always, let us know what you think in the comments, as well – we love a good conversation.
Avoid A Huge International Data Bill When Traveling
So, you may be thinking of traveling to far off places this summer, blithely jetting off to other countries, bringing your iPhone hither and yon to take pictures, check email, call your friends to brag about the nice weather, and play some Angry Birds while on the long plane rides. Unfortunately, using that beautiful iPhone in other countries could see you coming home with more that just a sunburn and jet lag.
If you use your iPhone and access its network capabilities, you could be seeing a bill of hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. Here’s how to avoid having to take out a second mortgage to pay your bill.
Apparently it’s the data roaming that adds the most extra dollars to your bottom line. First up, head into the Settings app. Tap on General, and then Network. Make sure Data Roaming is set to OFF. This will still let you make phone calls (more on that in a minute), but won’t allow you to accidentally run up a huge bill while surfing the web.
If you need data while traveling, be sure to turn off push email. Hop into Settings, then tap on Mail, Contacts and Calendars. Tap on Fetch New Data, and set Push to OFF. Now your iPHone won’t constantly access the network to pull down all those spam emails you get. You will still be able to check your accounts manually, of course. While you’re on that screen, you should also check off the Manually setting below that to be sure that any other rogue apps won’t try and access your data.
If you’re going to need a lot of data while travelling internationally, you might want to check out your carrier’s international data plans. AT&T has a variety of Global add on data plans, starting at $25 for 50 MB of roaming Data. They also have Global messaging plans as well. Be sure to call your carrier to check the specific features you can use and any restrictions on them before you travel.
While actual voice calls are the least expensive roaming charge, they can still add up. Be sure to add an international roaming calling plan, so that calls can cost less per minute while traveling. AT&T has a World Traveler add-on, starting at $6 per month, that allows you to make and receive calls in over 225 countries. Again, your mileage may vary, so be sure to call your carrier. We may be able to tip you off to the potential pitfalls of international iPhone use, but we can’t pay your phone bill.
Don’t Forget A Thing For Your Vacation With Packing Pro
Packing for an upcoming vacation can be a last-minute affair in which all the important items are left behind at home. With our busy schedules and long to-do lists, it’s rare that we get time to think about all the things we’ll need while traveling to that exotic location, or even just heading home to see the folks. Either way, using a list to be sure we remember all that we need is a smart idea, but I’m guessing that many folks don’t get that far, or, like me, have a congenital aversion to tiny slips of paper.
However, using an iPhone app is ever so much cooler, and it actually helps us stay organized. With an app like Packing Pro – or it’s little brother, Packing – you’ll be able to save time AND stay organized. What a concept, right?
First of all, Packing and Packing Pro are essentially the same app. Both allow you to create lists of all the things you need to pack, sample lists to help jog your memory for things you may have forgotten to include in your list, template support, and a big catalog of types of items. You don’t need to create anything from scratch, which helps the process along.
To create a packing list, first download Packing from the App Store (it’s currently $0.99). Launch the app and tap on the green plus button in the upper right ot create a new list. You’ll be given a list of options, allowing you to create that new list from one of your previous lists, from a sample list provided by the developer, or from scratch. Pro options here include restoring a deleted list and importing a list from Contacts or iTunes.
There’s even an Expert option, which acts a little like a Genius playlist in iTunes. Simple enter the number and gender of the adults and children you’re planning to pack for, the length of the trip, the climate and destination type, and options for food and clothes washing. Packing will create a list for you based on your choices. Seems like a pretty sweet way to start packing if you’re at a loss for what to bring.
If you want better syncing & sharing options, iCloud support, display customization, a super-sized catalog, twice as many sample lists, & additional, built-in Expert assistance, then Packing Pro may be your bag. It also allows you to share packing lists via File Sharing. You can download it separately, or as an in-app purchase from Packing.
Get Ready For Summer Vacation With TripIt
The hardest part of vacationing, for me, isn’t the crowds or the time in airports, or long lines at travel destinations. That’s what I have an iPhone for, anyway, right? Killing time? What’s most difficult in my world is the deal searching. Getting the best hotel, car, airfare deals is tricky and time consuming, and I just wish I could hand it all off to an assistant and be done with it.
Fortunately, there is an app to help with this sort of thing.
TripIt says it will recognize reservations from over 3,000 different sites, including cruises and restaurants. That’s pretty sweet. In addition, you can share your trip plans with other folks you know, or send to Facebook or Linked in.
For $3.99 and an additional annual fee of $49, TripIt Pro is available, which will do all of the above, but also monitor your flights for airfare savings and will send you flight status alerts, all from the same app you track your details from.
Keep Your iPhone Charged And Safe On Vacation
When traveling, keeping your iPhone safe, charged, and accessible is pretty much a constant battle. What kinds of accessories you need to do so will depend on your destination, your transportation, and (obviously) your budget. Here are a few suggestions for stuff that you might find helpful when travelling with an iPhone.
The iPhone has pretty decent battery life, all things considered. It is a smartphone, however, and all smartphones use a lot more battery than the old feature phones used to. To keep it charged and at the ready for longer than a day, or under heavy usage, you might want to consider an external charger, or a case with an extra battery in it. Two that I use are the Mophie Juice Pack and the Scoche goBAT II.
The Mophie Juice Pack Plus is a solid protective case that allows an iPhone 4 or 4S to slide into it, connecting to a 30 pin slot at the bottom. While connected and on, the Juice Pack will provide a constant stream of power to your iPhone, keeping it charged far longer than the standard iPhone battery does. When I use it, it generally provides a good double the battery life. There’s a similar model, the Juice Pack Air, that costs $20 less, but provides a little less power on the go.
The Scoche goBAT II is an external hard drive-sized little gadget that provides two or three charges for my iPhone 4, or about a charge or two for my iPad. It has two USB ports on it, one at the higher 2.1 ampere level to allow for that iPad charge. You can connect up to two devices to the goBAT II, and it’s not limited to iOS devices; this baby will charge anything that uses a USB charging cable. To charge the goBAT II itself, simply connect a micro USB cable to the provided port, and then plug that USB cable into a wall charger or computer.
Whether you’re going on a trip far away or just a day jaunt to a museum, having something that allows you to use your iPhone and doesn’t require you to plug your phone into a computer or wall plug is pretty darn sweet, right?