11 Phone Hacks Everybody Needs to Know When Travelling

Make the most out of your smart phone when you’re travelling.

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Your phone is your trusted travel buddy. It takes pictures, makes calls, sends text and entertains you when you’re bored. Your smart phone is multilingual and resourceful, with a fantastic sense of direction. Here are some ways to make the most out of your smartphone and avoid insane data and roaming fees when travelling:

Keep your phone out of plain view — and be extra aware in large crowds.

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This may be a no-brainer but we’ll include it anyway because we have all been guilty of forgetting this in the midst of all that travel excitement! When we’re in a country where everything looks new, the first thing we’ll do is whip out our trusty smart phone. Our smart phones are usually either in our hands or carelessly thrown on top of our bags, so it’s easy for a thief to steal it. In order to keep your phone safe, always remember to store it in a specific place so you’ll know where to get it when you need it. Doing this may be tougher than you think when you’re grappling with baggage and gawking at the most amazing view, ever!

Turn Off Your Roaming
If you wish for your phone bill to hit the thousands, then roaming with your phone is ideal, but the rest of us would  prefer not to (rack up the bill).

Before you leave the airport, turn off Data Roaming. On iOS, just go to Settings > Cellular > Cellular Data Options and slide Data Roaming to OFF meanwhile on Samsung, go to Settings > Connections > Data Usage > International Data Roaming and uncheck International Data.

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Photo: Data roaming setting on iPhone

Turning off your data will ensure that apps don’t eat up all your data or make you exceed your data limit. Telco companies even charge you roaming fees if someone calls you and you don’t pick up! Always depend on wi-fi or…

Get a local SIM card
Local SIM cards are cheap and easy to buy! Most telco companies sell pre-paid SIM cards without a contract and you can reload it with data, calls, or texts any time.

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Getting a local SIM card is totally optional because, let’s face it, wi-fi is pretty much everywhere now and putting your phone on Airplane Mode saves tons of battery life. However, if you’re in need of cell service, getting a local SIM card is the cheapest and easiest alternative.

Stay Away From Public, Non-Password Protected Wi-Fi Networks
While we’re on the topic of wi-fi, you need to be cautious of every free public wi-fi network you see. There are many hidden dangers lurking behind those unsecured networks because hackers are known to create networks with the names of hotels or stores to trick guests into logging in.

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Always connect your phone with  wi-fi that has a protected password. While free airport wi-fi is generally okay, don’t do any online banking or divulge any passwords online while you’re logged on to a free public wi-fi.

What you can do is try using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to keep your data safe. One of the best recommended VPN right now is NordVPN, where you can purchase it for $8 a month or $69 a year. Here’s how to connect VPN on Android and here’s how to connect VPN on iOS.

Use Apps That Can Send Messages and Make Calls over Wi-Fi
Keep in touch with your travel buds or your loved ones back home with apps that offer free texting and audio calls over the internet. iOS has iMessage and Facetime video and audio for free texts and calls meanwhile other devices can use other free apps such as Google Voice, WhatsApp, Skype, and Facebook Messenger.

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Skype is a reliable app to make free international calls. Simply sign up for a free month of unlimited international calls to landlines in 63 countries and mobiles in eight.

Store All Your Important Information on Your Phone or Take Screenshots
You can’t really rely on the internet when we need fast information, especially if you rely solely on wi-fi. Save all your important information like your flight details, hotel address, bank account, and insurance numbers in your note or storage apps like TripIt, Google Drive or Dropbox or take screenshots of it.

This means you won’t need to log in the internet or e-mail for information. This totally saves up your data. If you want to be extra cautious, always have your scanned documents available on your phone in case of emergencies.

Save the Areas You Want to Visit Offline via Google Maps
Since data connection will be limited, downloading Google Maps is crucial for every traveller. It can be used to show your cab driver where your hotel is or where to go, and you can also orient yourself around the city via GPS even without data.

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When you’re connected to the Internet, open Google Maps and search for the area you want to visit. Press and hold the area on the map to drop a pin. Tap the options menu (top right), then select Download Offline Area. Finally, select ‘Download’ to make it accessible offline.

To see the downloaded map, all you have to do is pan around the main map and pinch to zoom in. You can view a list of your offline maps by tapping Menu (top left) > Offline areas.

Sync the Country’s Language for Offline Usage with Google Translate
Who are we kidding? Not everyone in the world speaks and understands English, so having a digital translation dictionary is a lifesaver and totally useful especially if you have food allergy.

First, download Google Translate, which is available for free on iOS and Android. Open the app and tap one of the languages (in blue text) at the top.

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Scroll or search for your desired language. If there’s an arrow next to it, it can be downloaded. Tap the arrow and once it’s successfully downloaded, you’ll see a check mark.

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And voila! You’re ready to speak the local language even though you may sound funny doing it.

Get the eBook Version of Your Guidebook.
Having a physical copy of a travel guidebook around can look cool and all, but it’s a hassle to carry and it’s usually more expensive than a digital copy. You can find electronic versions of pretty much all major travel guides like Lonely Planet.

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Lonely Planet is particularly easy to use as you can download them in any format you desire (epub, mobi, and PDF) up to five times. You can also view them like eBooks when using iBooks and Google Play Books. You can also buy individual chapters at a much cheaper price.

Download All the Apps You Need Before You Get On the Airplane
When travelling, don’t procrastinate, especially when you rely on limited data. Downloading apps when you’re travelling can be a hassle when you don’t have easy access to wi-fi.  Instead, download the apps you require at home a few days before your flight and keep it neatly in a folder on your phone. Our favourite must-have apps are Google Translate, Skype, any free chat messaging app, Google Maps, TripIt, and also a digital version of your travel guidebook.

Invest in a Good Phone Case
Your phone will probably be your best friend and will go through a lot of abuse on the trip, so it’s your call to protect it! Get something rubbery that covers all the edges of your phone. Rubber isn’t heavy compared to other types of cases. It’s easier to clean too.

If your destination is a beach or anywhere near water, getting a waterproof case may save your phone! If you have money to fork out, Morphie’s Juice Pack H2PRO phone case is waterproof, sturdy and has extra battery!

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If that’s out of your budget, Lazada offers a good range of affordable phone cases for all types of phones.

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