iPhone, a Traveler’s Best Friend? 5 Best Travel Uses

by Audrey Scott

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When we set off to travel around the world in December 2006, we traveled with a Palm Trio mobile phone (yes, you might have to look that up). At the time we felt that what we had was pretty snazzy – you could take notes on it, add contacts, even take a photo (kind of). A few years later, we began traveling with an iPhone and it was like the clouds cleared. It quickly became an essential part of our travels.

Here are five ways we use our iPhone on the road.

1) Maps:

As much as I love the feel of paper maps, it’s hard to beat Google Maps to figure out where you are, where you want to go and how long it will take you to get there. Google Maps can also help you figure out where you are in the journey so that you know whether your bus stop is coming up or if a taxi is ripping you off by taking you on an extended trip. Each time I arrive in a big city I also download a map or app of the local transport system to help me navigate the route I need when I’m on the metro.

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2) Money conversion:

Have you ever arrived in a new country and have either taken out way too much (or too little) local currency or overpaid someone tremendously because you didn’t do the math right in your head? Perhaps you’re tired, perhaps you’re jetlagged or perhaps you didn’t do your homework. With iPhone currency conversion apps it’s easy to know exactly what everything costs and whether you’re being ripped off. Our currency conversion app of choice is Oanda.

3) Language translation and dictionary:

Being able to speak a few words of the local language is best, but sometimes that’s just not possible. And sometimes charades just doesn’t cut it. Using a language translation app not only helps you communicate with and ask questions of local people (we find that showing the translation to the person is more effective than trying to read it out with a horrible accent), but it allows the local person to respond efficiently by typing in the response. Translation tools and dictionaries can also very useful in restaurants, especially if you have allergies or food specific requests. We use the iTranslate app.

4) Photography:

Over the years we find ourselves using our iPhone more and more for photography when on the road. The iPhone is smaller and more discreet, so it’s sometimes easier to take photos in crowded markets with it than with the big DSLR. Not only is the image quality getting better and better with each iPhone release, but apps like Instagram have filters and tools that make good photos look great. You can upload your photos as you go and make your family and friends insanely jealous of your travels. Always fun to do.

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5) Guidebooks and Recommendations:

It’s no longer necessary to look like the typical tourist, pulling out the big guide book on the street corner looking up recommendations for a place to eat nearby. Now all of that is on your phone, either by downloading your favorite Lonely Planet (or other) guide as pdf or find an interactive guide app for the place you’re visiting. If you have a distrust of guidebooks, then open up Yelp, Foodspotting or another restaurant app that will tell you what is close to you with user reviews so you can decide if it’s your type of place.

If you travel with your iPhone, what are the favorite ways that you use it?


About the author: Audrey Scott has been traveling around the world for seven years with her husband and fellow storyteller, Daniel Noll. You can follow along in her adventures, from Antarctica to Uzbekistan, on her travel blog, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.