Smartphones, tablets and laptops can make traveling productive and more fun. Our team of IT consultants travel throughout the year to conferences and between our New York and Denver offices, so we wanted to share some different ways you can use technology to make your next trip easier.
Use your airline’s app. Download the app for your carrier so you have your boarding pass, check-in information and gate change notices right in your pocket.
Pack a backup battery (and an extra charging cable). Outlets can still be few and far between in a number of airports. Expect to spend between $25 to $60 on a good backup battery, but you’ll never have to worry about running out of power for your phone or tablet. The larger models are still relatively lightweight and can power a number of devices from a single battery charge. But you can’t charge without a power cord, so toss an extra into your bag to be safe.
Download content for Wi-Fi free zones. While backup batteries can fix a dwindling charge during a remote car trip, opening your Netflix app will destroy your monthly data plan. Invest in some of your favorite movies or TV shows and download them to your device so you’re covered when you find yourself without a signal.
Skip the hotel’s movies. Bring your Apple TV/Amazon Fire TV/Google Chromecast to plug into the TV in your room and turn your device into your personal movie channel.
Consider using TripIt. The TripIt website and app allow you to forward confirmations for flights, rental cars and hotels to your TripIt account and the app assembles a custom master itinerary for your trip. While TripIt isn’t for everyone, it’s worth checking out.
Hotel Wi-Fi is normally safe. Ask a staff member for the correct Wi-Fi name and password to make sure you join the official network. Hackers often create an open Wi-Fi network near a hotel and name the network “Marriott/Hyatt/Hilton Wifi” to trick unsuspecting users into using their fake network.
Use your smartphone camera. Unless photography is one of your hobbies, you can rely on your smartphone for photos and video to save space in your bag. Most current smartphones rival casual point and shoot cameras for quality, and you can share the good stuff on social media without having to spend time downloading things.
Master Google Maps. Two features of Google Maps can make it a key part of your travel adventures: saved places and offline maps. Both of these features are available when you log into the app with your Google account.
Saved location: Use the star icon to save different locations you’d like to remember. The star appears when you click to get location details. Logging into your Google account also allows saved places to be synced between your desktop and mobile device. To access saved places in the app, click on the three stacked lines on the left side of the search bar.
Offline maps: Offline maps allow you to save a map directly to your phone or tablet for 30 days, so it’s available when you don’t have reception. To save a map, zoom in or out to the size you need, tap the search bar, scroll down to the bottom of the menu that opens and choose “save a new offline map.” You’ll get a notification when the map is set to expire and you can update it for another 30 days or delete it. Search and directions are not currently available in offline maps but are coming later in 2015.