Traveling with a smartphone has become an essential part of our getaways, serving as our guide, our maps, our camera, our communication tool, and that’s not even the half of it. However, to make the most of your smartphone while traveling, it’s crucial to prepare it in advance. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to optimize your smartphone for travel. Let’s dive in!
☐ Download Music & Movies for the Flight
The night before every flight, I will go through my Spotify and download my favorite playlists from Spotify and movies from Netflix. That way, they are available on Airplane mode, and available to me throughout my trip.
☐ Make Sure your Phone Has Enough Memory
I was in Positano taking some photos of a lemon tree when all of the sudden those dreaded words popped up on my screen: “CANNOT TAKE PHOTO: There is not enough storage to take a photo. . .” So before any trip, check your phone’s memory to ensure you have enough space to capture all the memories you want. If memory is low, consider deleting unused apps, old photos, or other files.
☐ Customize your Lock Screen
This is a trick I learned at music festivals, but now I am using it on more and more trips. Customize your lock screen with your name, an alternate phone number, and perhaps an email address. This ensures that if your smartphone falls into honest hands, the person who finds it can quickly reach out, facilitating its safe return. Just don’t make the text TOO big so someone looking over your shoulder could read your info, but just big enough that someone can read it when they hold it to their face.
☐ Create a Folder of Important Screenshots
You never know where you will or will not have service, or what apps or websites might be down. So before every trip, take screenshots of important information like tickets, reservations, and booking confirmations. Organize them into a dedicated folder on your phone for easy access, even when internet connectivity is limited.
☐ Organize your Home Screen
Streamline your travel experience by organizing essential travel apps on your smartphone’s home screen. Keep flight and hotel bookings, language translators, and local guides easily accessible. Do this a week before your departure to get familiar with the layout.
☐ Make Sure Apps are Updated
Ensure all your essential apps are updated to their latest versions before you leave. This includes social media, communication tools, maps, and travel-specific apps like translation services or currency converters. Up-to-date apps are more likely to run smoothly and provide the latest features to enhance your travel experience.
☐ Google Maps: Download Offline Maps
As much as I travel, I still forget to download offline maps before trips. And when exploring new destinations, navigation is key. Simply search for your intended destination and download the offline map before your trip. This ensures you’ll have access to maps and directions even without an active internet connection, enabling you to navigate with ease. I also typically have dozens of places I want to visit saved through my Google Maps as well.
☐ FindMyPhone: Make Sure ‘FindMyPhone’ is On
Losing your smartphone while traveling can be a nightmare. Protect your device and personal data by activating the “Find My Phone” feature, available on most smartphones. This feature helps you locate your device remotely, lock it, or erase its data if necessary.
☐ Google Translate: Bridge the Language Barrier
Google Translate is essential if you are visiting a country where you are not fluent in the language. Google Translate not only allows text or speech translation, but also has a photo feature where you can take a picture of something and it will tell you what it says—this is especially useful for things like menus!
☐CityMapper: Tackle Public Transportation
Citymapper is a must-have app for any urban explorer. This navigation tool goes beyond traditional maps and offers real-time information on public transport options, including buses, trains, subways, and rideshares, taking into account current transit schedules and delays. The app is not available for every city, but covers numerous cities worldwide. Navigate cities with ease, and save time and reduce the stress of getting around.
☐ Currency Conversion App
Be sure to download a currency conversion app. There are almost always people who will try to take advantage of your unfamiliarity, and try to rip you off. Understand the currency! Understand how much you will be paying for something! The app I use is called “My Currency Converter & Rates”, which I love because it’s simple, and it works offline. But there are a million options out there!
☐ WhatsApp: Stay in Touch
I love WhatsApp for international travel (or honestly any time), because you to send messages, make calls, and share media files over an internet connection instead of relying on expensive international texting or calls. Ensure you have the app installed on your smartphone and that your contacts also have it. This way, you can stay connected, make plans, and share exciting travel moments without incurring additional charges.
☐ Airalo: Stay Connected with an eSim
Traditional SIM cards are complicated, and you never want to be hit with roaming charges, so consider using eSIMs (embedded SIM cards) for international connectivity. eSIMs allow you to switch between local carriers easily and eliminate the need for physical SIM cards. Before your trip, check if your smartphone supports eSIM functionality and inquire about eSIM services from your mobile provider. With eSIMs, you can enjoy seamless connectivity and access data, calls, and messages without worrying about high roaming charges. We use Airalo on every trip. They have lots of plans, and all of them give you the ability to “top off” your plan when needed.
Having a portable WiFi (or pocket WiFi) device, can be a game-changer, making sure you always have uninterrupted access to your devices, and it can also keep your phone battery life longer. These compact devices create a personal WiFi hotspot that allows you to connect multiple devices simultaneously. These can be rented for around $4-5/day and are available in many airports, or you can buy your own for around $150. Google “Pocket Wifi [DESTINATION]” and research your options.
Phone Case with Wrist Strap
I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard from travelers who have literally had their phone snatched right out of their hands. For this reason (and my genetic clumsiness), I started using a phone case that has an attached wrist strap. These cases not only protect your device from accidental falls and scratches but also provide peace of mind, knowing your phone is securely attached to your wrist.
Protect your smartphone against the elements with a waterproof phone pouch. This handy accessory provides an airtight seal around your device, keeping it safe from splashes, sand, and unexpected rain showers. These waterproof pouches are designed with transparent windows, allowing you to use your phone’s touchscreen and camera underwater, so you can capture the magic of aquatic wonders without risking damage.
If you’re going to be in the water, whether that’s a beach vacation or just kayaking, consider a floating attachment for your smart phone. On our trip to the Grand Caymans, I paired one of these with the waterproof phone pouch mentioned above.
One thing I love bringing with me is my Gorilla Tripod for my smart phone. It’s great for when you’re traveling solo, or when you want a group shot of your entire party.
When you’re traveling, keeping your phone charged is vital. A portable battery bank can be a game-changer, ensuring you never miss capturing those picture-perfect moments or lose connectivity with loved ones back home. Opt for a high-capacity battery bank that can charge your phone multiple times and consider one with fast-charging capabilities for quick power-ups on the go. Compact and lightweight, a battery bank easily fits into your backpack or pocket, making it a must-have accessory for every globetrotter.
Your smartphone is more than just a device. And by following these essential tips, you can unlock its full potential and ensure an unforgettable getaway.