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The way we travel and how we prepare ourselves for our adventures can have a huge impact on our experiences in foreign places. Of course every season brings with it a new crop of gadgets and services designed to make travel easier and more fun. Some truly do take the stress out of taking a trip while others well...let's just say they offer only promises. That's why we put this list together- options for hassle-free travel that really work and don't cost a bundle, either. From solving your money issues with a travel money card to ensuring you can use your phone while abroad, this list covers the basics of life while traveling abroad so you have more time to enjoy your time on holiday. Here are the new options for savvy travelers. Some represent the best of travel tech, while others stem from a simpler world of travel gizmos. Check them out...
If something drastic happens while you're abroad (you need an embassy, a doctor, or legal advice, for example), do you know who to call? What if your wallet is stolen- how will you call the police? Luckily, there's an app for all those things and more. It's called TravelSafe Pro and houses important phone numbers on your phone so you're ready for anything. Want to be extra, extra prepared? Get the widget, too. This puts local police and ambulance numbers right there on your home screen for super-quick access.
We're all painfully aware of the various ways to lose track of luggage, especially when flying somewhere. While it's hard to control what the airline does with your checked luggage once it leaves your hands, it's at least nice to know where your luggage is during your journey. There's a product called Trakdot that you slip inside your suitcase and lets you track your luggage from point A to point B. You get specific location info and more importantly: peace of mind. Trust us: it's great to get that text message from your Trakdot when you land, telling you your luggage has landed with you!
Getting cash is no problem while abroad. If, however, you care about avoiding exorbitant ATM fees from both your bank and the foreign bank whose ATM you used, then a little planning will save you a bundle. Pre paid cards take the hassle out of paying for incidentals while vacationing. They come pre-loaded with however much money you want, and can be used anywhere the MasterCard symbol is accepted. But don't get just any travel money card. Take precaution with the various fees, especially ATM fees. That's because sometimes cash all that's accepted, and you'll find yourself needing to use an ATM. Look for cards that charge a low, flat fee rather than a percentage of the cash withdrawal amount. Banks can charge 3% and up, so a flat ATM withdrawal fee of £1.00 or less will save you money as long as you withdraw in chunks of £33 or more. For those times when you need to find an ATM, an ATM finder app will be useful- download it before you travel, of course! Finally, make sure the card you choose is a pre paid card with chip. This ensures safety, security, and protection of your identity.
Finally, travel is worlds simpler when you can use your cell phone abroad. There are several ways to make this happen- and some of them won't break the bank. There are now several progressive cell phone companies offering "wi-fi calling" plans. EE offers such a plan, and offers simple setup on devices which are compatible. Other companies even let you switch from your regular plan to wifi for a short period of time, meaning you can gear down into a cheaper plan while traveling and use your phone only when you're around WiFi. Look for them to start appearing soon in the UK- right now there's Republic Wireless in the US, who offers a $5 per month plan that's wifi only- that's about £3.23! For the rest of you, be sure to switch your phone to "Airplane Mode" when you land or else you could face horrible data charges on your bill once you return home...even if you never make one single phone call while traveling, your phone might be connecting for updates, etc. Just be sure to turn WiFi back on (it gets turned off when you're in Airplane Mode) so you can at least use your apps. If you have an iPhone, you can use Facetime and iMessage to stay in touch with folks back home. So, pick up some pre-paid cards, ready your phone, and even go for the luggage tracker...everything the savvy traveler needs to enjoy a stress-free holiday!