The best tech to have when travelling Europe
Years ago, travelling meant leaving space in your backpack for a dog-eared copy of the Lonely Planet, a trusty map, and, if you were really organised, a folder containing all of your flight, accommodation, and transport details.
Nowadays, with the arrival of widely-used technology, most people holding a ticket to Paris, France – or any other of the many beautiful cities on offer across the European continent, such as Madrid, Rome, Dublin, Athens, or Budapest – are likely to also rely on a range of technological gadgets to help their travels run smoothly.
Firstly, any traveller using gadgets – from the smartphone to the laptop – will need to connect to the internet, or select an overseas plan that will let you use 3G or 4G networks abroad. Often, there will be free Wi-Fi, but it may ask for email registration. A good bit of advice is to set up an email address solely for this purpose, so you avoid future spam. Alternatively, use a pre-paid international sim card to escape the huge charges overseas internet can bring.
Once connected, your next problem is likely to be finding your way. Luckily, GPS can fix all that, and using apps such as Google Maps or Apple Maps are standard for travellers in a tricky spot. Google – and other similar apps – can also help you translate foreign languages, a godsend when you have no idea what’s going on.
Similarly, many European cities offer downloads of the local Metro, Underground, Train, or Tram system, so you can understand the system at a glance.
Other great apps for European cities include those that list the best local restaurants, or that can give ratings and tips for nearby attractions and monuments. This means you’re more likely to find great places to go, and enjoy your experiences when you get there. Forget a chunky guidebook for every city – some of the best traveller apps are actually from traditional guidebook publishers, meaning you can carry the same invaluable information, but in far less space.
There are also apps which can help you manage your documents, including those that save your flight information, boarding passes, and train tickets, meaning you don’t have to carry around lots of pieces of paper. Some apps even let you search for travel options – such as cheap flights to Ireland, Croatia or Amsterdam, say – and save your booking details, all in the same program.
Other must-have travel gadgets include battery- or solar-powered phone chargers (brilliant for when you can’t find a plug or an adaptor), or laptop programs that allow you to download shows so you can watch them even if there is no connection available.
And don’t forget the entertainment. Long journeys, possible delays, or hours waiting in transit mean you’re going to want books, magazines, music, and movies. Luckily, packing a laptop or tablet, e-reader, and tiny mp3 player and headphones, will solve your problems instantly. Just remember the chargers!
Overall, travelling has been transformed by tech. With a bit of planning and creativity, you can use apps and other programs to enhance not only the travelling, but also the destination. Bon voyage!