Best smartphone hacks for travelers

Learning how your smartphone can make traveling easier

Travel can be complicated. You have to get to the airport on time, keep track of your documents, go through security, chase down your gate, drag your stuff onboard, sit still on your flight, pick up your bags at baggage claim, wave down ground transportation, and find your hotel after a long day of traveling. And that’s only on the first day of your trip! Once you arrive at your destination, you need to hunt down food, figure out activities to do, and navigate through a completely foreign city. Travel involves lots of moving parts and sometimes they can suck the fun out of a vacation.

Luckily, technology has advanced to make travel easier. Smartphones have dramatically improved the travelers experience. My husband and I have been backpacking full-time for six months and we’ve learned a few smartphone tricks that have helped us get through airports and destinations much better and faster. Here they are…

1. Take a screenshot of your boarding pass

After you check-in for your flight online, you receive a digital version of your boarding pass in your inbox. You can use this to get through security and board your flight. But rather than digging through your inbox at the airport to find your boarding pass, take a screenshot of it before you leave. This way you have a copy of it in your photos app, so you can easily pull it up at the airport. Much easier than sifting through than your messy inbox when there are a dozen impatient travelers behind you!

Viewfinder Tip: Unlock your phone from your carrier, so that you can buy and use SIM cards abroad. They are cheap!

2. Use airplane mode to avoid roaming charges

Airplane mode is meant to be used during flights, but you can also use it during your trip. If you are traveling to a new country and you don’t want to rack up international roaming charges, then keep your phone in airplane mode during your entire trip. This will disable your smartphone from using any cell service. But you can still toggle Wi-Fi on and off. This will allow you to access the Internet and connect to your social media apps without the risk of inflating your cell phone bill. My phone has been in airplane mode for the past six months and it still works like a champ!

3. Navigate with Google Maps offline

One of my favorite smartphone apps is Google Maps. It helps your find your destination, map out a route, and look for transportation options. But it may seem like you need cell service or Wi-Fi for the app to work, right? Wrong! If you pre-load your route ahead of time, you can still follow your route offline. The GPS tracker in your smartphone will show your current location without any connection. You can easily pin point your location and follow your pre-loaded route to your destination. Also, you can save a destination when you look it up. The destination will show up as a star on the map and you can navigate to it offline. My husband and I use this to bookmark all of the places we want to go during a trip. That way we never forget a must-visit place!

With these three hacks, you can get through airports and foreign cities in a breeze. These tips have made our trips in Barcelona, London, and Singapore go much more smoothly and we use them all of the time. Thank goodness for technology!

How do you use your smartphone when you travel?

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Lauren LeBrun

Lauren LeBrun is a 20-something world traveler, co-founder of LeBruns On The Run, and formerly a social media geek in the travel industry. She helped build award-winning digital marketing campaigns for Expedia and wore every hat in the industry including: community management, content development, integrated marketing, and direct response advertising. Originally from Seattle, Lauren graduated from Gonzaga University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and a focus on Entrepreneurship. With a hunger for global experiences and international knowledge, she also studied at Gonzaga University in Florence and The School for Field Studies in the Turks & Caicos Islands. She is currently a co-pilot of LeBruns On The Run, which is a travel blog that she founded with her husband to document their 12-month backpacking trip around the globe. Their goal is to explore the world, live life on their own clock and inspire others to do so as well. Follow their adventures on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!
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