Using Technology Abroad

So I know some nomads/ travelers believe in old fashion getting to know people, finding their way with a map and compass. However, I’m all about utilizing technology and social media to find my way around the world.

Smartphones

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve started looking up apps for the particular places I go.  I look for offline maps, guidebooks and phrasebooks for my smartphone.  Yes, there are apps that offer guides and phrases for every country in Europe however they cost a subscription and take up far too much space.

Offline maps can still use your GPS location making it much easier than a real map.  My favorite app so far is Ulmon it has a little guidebook and an offline map.  If I don’t have data it can still pinpoint my location so it’s much easier than a normal map.  You have to download each city separately which is perfect to save space.  You could use Google Maps but sometimes Google Maps will freeze if it hasn’t had time to load your surroundings.

Also, I downloaded a compass.  While I did have a physical compass for a while the magnetism eventually faded at the end of my first Eurotrip last year.  So having a digital one has proved to be much more useful.

WhatsApp is also an important tool because most of Europe prefers it over text messaging.  It also allows you to send your location to someone you are trying to meet up with.

City Walks is also a great series of apps.  I used it in Prague and Vienna.  They create itineraries so can create your own tour or choose from a variety of walking tours.  There is a free version with the itineraries available or pay $5.99 for the GPS to track your walk on a map.

Meetup is a great app.  It looks for events in your area.  I use it a lot in Spain to meet new people and get some good deals.

Itranslate is a great app however it has to be online.  I did have an incident though where the translation didn’t work.  I wanted to tell the mother of my private student to have straws for a project. iTranslate said “pajas” was the word but it’s actually “Pajaitas.”  Pajas meants blowjob. That was embarrassing!  So just be careful.

Facebook

I know a lot of people want to stay away from Facebook because it’s a greedy corporate social media hub BUT as a traveler, my phone number changes a lot. Facebook makes it easier to communicate.

Facebook groups are amazing for finding information from real people that have been there and done that.  It’s a great way to meet fellow travelers, ask for tips, and network.  I belong to groups such as Nomad-life of free/ cheap travel, Girls Who Travel, Couchsurfers, Meeple and more.  It’s a great way to find out locals do and learn from other’s travel mistakes. I also joined groups for people teaching/ working abroad like Expats in Spain, Auxiliaries de conversacion en Espana, Auxiliaries de conversacion en Madrid, and Private English Private Class Opportunities in Madrid.

Storing my photos is much easier on facebook.  I know I can use other websites but facebook is what I use for my photo back-ups.  You need to back everything up.  I have a hard drive, my computer and facebook.  Photos are memories that don’t want to lose.

Kindle

Having a book to read while I wait for things or kill time is amazing.  I never feel alone.  I used to love having books with me and doing the hostel book exchanges.  However, books are heavy and I also read a lot.  I’ve gone through four books this month and that’s not including short stories and books I use regularly.  It also saves paper.

I know a lot of people love the way a book feels but if you read a lot, it doesn’t make sense to only have one book for your whole trip.  Also, you can have one physical book and your kindle so you can have the best of both worlds!

I pay $9.99 to have Kindle unlimited which lets me download some books for free.  I can have up to 10 at a time. They have a good selection that is always changing.  I just finished Water for Elephants, Slaughterhouse 5 and I’m starting The Man in High Castle. I know a lot of people use their library card as well.  I’m working on figuring that out.

Also, you can download phrase books and travel guides however they do cost money.  It’s good to at least down load the dictionary of somewhere you will be for a while.  I have a Spanish dictionary.

Good luck

I hope these tips help you utilize the world of technology on your next trip.

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