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One of the greatest 'new' gadgets for the traveller is the smart phone (i-phone, android etc) which gives the modern traveller a large number of extras that can be carried around on a small phone. Of course you could carry a larger ipad or other tablet but that seems quite bulky and unnecessary. Some people may also want to take their laptop computer.
Many travellers are hesitant about taking and using their phone when travelling internationally, scared of the excessive roaming fees that some people get slugged with. If you are smart and download what you need before you go, and only connect to free wireless hot spots, then there is no need to worry.
With the thousands of smart phone Apps available, there are plenty that are useful for the traveller. As new Apps are coming out all the time, I will try not to be too specific about which to chose, just use these examples to find the latest and best that can do that job.
You may already be carrying a good camera on your travels, but the camera on smart phones are pretty good too. There are some phone Apps that improve the usefulness of the built in camera, such as creating panoramic shots, adding creative filters, and directly uploading to social media such as facebook or twitter. You should also think about putting a few photos from home on your phone to remind you of loved ones or to show the people you meet some of your home country.
You can save a bit of weight by taking along with you some e-books. There are thousands of free books or you can buy one you are keen to read.
Maps & Directions
With the built in GPS and Google maps or other mapping Apps, you can avoid getting lost as you travel around. To save on roaming download costs, some Apps allow you to download the maps onto you phone and use them offline. Most smart phones also have directional capabilities, so you are able to use a compass App to point you in the right direction.
Another App to save you lugging around more paper books are travel phrases and translation Apps. There are some that will listen to a phrase spoken and then translate it back. Some will also allow you to take a photo of the sign and it will give you a translation of it. Very useful for restaurant menus and at train stations.
You can download whole Lonely Planet guidebooks, or just the chapters you need, and easily read these on your phone. Other Apps use the information from Wiki-Travel, a user generated travel information website. If you can download this information before you go, it is always on your phone for when you need it.
You don't have to find a computer to update your blog or send emails anymore. Using your phone and a free wireless hotspot, you can send and check your emails, and using one of the many travel blogging Apps out there you can record your trip, add photos, and then upload for all to see.
If you know the exchange rate, you can easily use the calculator function on your phone, otherwise there are a few currency converter Apps to help you get the best and latest rates, and to help you avoid getting ripped off.
Using you phone on a roaming network overseas can possibly lead to excessive phone and data costs. You can minimise this by only using your phone when you have free wireless. There are Apps to help you find these wireless hotspots. While connected to wireless, you can use an App like Skype to make international and local calls. You may need to buy some Skype credit, but this is much cheaper that making a regular phone call.