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Today’s technology puts a whole new face on traveling. You no longer have to resort to a beat up travel book or unwieldy map to figure out where you are and find the best hot spots. With the right devices and smart travel strategies, you can streamline your vacation and enjoy all the benefits technology has to offer.
#1 – Make Your Phone Calls Over WiFi
With a service like T-Mobile or an app like Whatsapp, you can make your telephone calls via a WiFi connection. The WiFi call uses an unlicensed mobile access (UMA) network to reach the core network. After connecting to this network, the call reaches its destination looking just like a connection from the United States.
Calls made over WiFi in this manner don’t accrue any data or roaming charges, which are what make international calls so expensive. Check out this technology before you leave, and consider changing your phone plan to one that supports WiFi calling or downloading a WiFi calling app if you’ll be making a lot of calls or if you’re planning to spend an extended period of time out of the country.
#2 – Ditch the Converter for an Adaptor Plug
Converters are a thing of the past for many international travelers. As long as you’re using relatively new technology, you’ll find that converters are actually built into your devices. Your smartphone, computer, and camera probably don’t need a converter to charge when you’re in another country. If these are the only items you’re plugging in, you’ll be fine without the converter. You will, however, need a converter if you’re using a hair dryer, iron, or other non-tech item.
When it comes to charging your tech devices, what you really need is an adaptor plug. This will allow you to plug them into the appropriate outlets. You can purchase an adaptor for the specific country you’re visiting, but if you travel often, a universal adaptor is probably a better choice.
#3 – Access Your Favorite Entertainment with a VPN
Traveling abroad can open up a new world of entertainment opportunities, but what happens when you have a yearning for one of your favorite shows from home? These show will likely only be available for viewing from your home country. However, with a few simple steps, you can access Netflix US streaming catalog as though you’re still in the United States. All you need is a virtual private network (VPN) like Hotspot Shield.
Connecting to a streaming service through a VPN allows you to set your location to any of more than a dozen places. You can access your favorite American shows for a welcome sense of familiarity while you’re on the road. This same technique can also give you access to favorites you fell in love with abroad once you’re home. Just reverse the process and use a virtual location in the desired country instead of the United States.
Hotspot Shield Free version comes by default with the US Virtual Location and a limited access to streaming content. When you upgrade to Hotspot Shield Elite (premium version starts at $2.50/month), you get instant access to 20+ virtual locations, faster speed, complete cloud-based malware protection, unlimited bandwidth, and the ability to activate your license on up to 5 devices simultaneously. So all the trip members can stream their favorite TV shows at the same time.
#4 – Prepare Your Apps at Home
There are dozens of great travel apps that will help you streamline your trip, but you don’t want to download them on-the-go. Avoid data charges by downloading all your travel apps at home via your familiar, secure WiFi connection before you leave. Take some time and think about the information and features you’ll need most while you’re gone. Some smart travel options to consider include:
- Currency converter
- Local guide
- Hotel and airline apps
- Free WiFi finder
It’s also helpful to familiarize yourself with your travel apps before you actually hit the road. This way, you won’t have to muddle around with an unfamiliar program when you need to find your way or translate your dinner order in a hurry.
#5 – Take the Right Tech
You’ll probably use your devices very differently when traveling than you would at home. A long day of taking photos and video on your phone may drain your battery much faster than you’re used to. Consider taking along separate devices for certain tasks, such as a camera or portable gaming system. This way you can spread your battery use out over several devices.
A portable charger is another smart inclusion you should have on the road. With a fully juiced charger in your pocket, you can easily extend the life of your phone and other devices so you can go longer between charges.
#6 – Keep Your Devices Safe
Traveling presents a host of unique dangers to your smart tech. You’re often around far more water, sand, and dirt than you are at home. Invest in quality cases before you leave so you can keep your phone, tablet, and other technology clean and dry wherever you go.
Whenever you connect to public WiFi during your travels, make sure you use a VPN for added security. This will help protect your privacy as you browse the Internet everywhere from the flight to your hotel. When you’re making your regular rounds checking email and favorite social sites each night, take a few minutes to back up your photos and videos as well, so you don’t lose your memories if your device does get damaged.
Travel smart with your technology, and you’ll find a seemingly endless array of perks available with these devices. When you’re well-prepared with these techy tips, you can easily use everything from your favorite travel apps to Netflix wherever you go.