The Wonder of Tech is honored to welcome Ryan Biddulph, a professional blogger who travels the world and writes about his experiences at Blogging from Paradise. Today, Ryan shares eight favorite tech tools he uses to enhance his travels.
Tech and traveling; the delicious duo gets a bad rap sometimes.
I have circled the globe since 2011 as a professional blogger. Being a world traveler, I have seen couples glued to small screens during their travels, completely missing the beautiful world around them.
Thank goodness, more travelers have learned how to use technology to enhance their travels.
I know I have.
Eight years ago I used scant technology online – save social media – and purchased the old skool, small, basic Motorola phone in Phuket, Thailand. Today, I have embraced more technological enhancements to add ease to my international trips and blogging business.
Let’s see how, shall we?
I am a stubborn guy and I never wanted to be online any time I left the apartment or house during my globetrotting days. I conservatively estimated I spent 30,000 hours honing my blogging craft over the past decade so I never bought minutes or a smartphone, until 2 years ago. When I left the house I *really* went offline.
But my wife won me over the moment she purchased an Internet-friendly phone with speedy Internet and minutes. Why? Uber. Google Maps. Various translators. The holy trinity of apps for most international travelers made life easier.
Connecting to the Internet While Traveling
If you don’t already have an unlocked phone, ask your carrier to unlock your phone. Make sure it is unlocked because if not, you will need to pay outrageously high roaming fees charged by your service provider anytime you hop online through your phone data, outside of your coverage area. It is not uncommon for unaware travelers to drop $500 to $1000 or more in international roaming fees per month until they smarten up and buy a local SIM card and use it on an unlocked phone.
See, WhistleOut, How do I know if my phone is unlocked?
Most airports boast one or more telecom service desks – usually by the luggage pick up area – where you can purchase a local telephone number and SIM card to access the Internet on your phone via your cellphone connection. Prices vary from country to country of course, but we just paid $30 USD for one month of 15 GBs in Thailand and we spent $40 for 12 GBs in Turkey. Unless you devour data left and right, even 10 GBs will get you through the month, no problems.
OK; Uber does not exist in more than a few nations. But we used it with ease during our month in Doha, Qatar. Plus we use Grab with greater ease in Thailand. Pull out your phone. Book a ride. Pay by card. Get picked up. Go where you need to go, easily.
Uber and Grab cut through language barriers, bartering and all types of headaches travelers care to avoid. Would I rather barter with a tuk-tuk driver in Chiang Mai over an overpriced $10 ride, or hire a Grab driver, pay $2 USD (I am not kidding) and go from Point A to Point B, quickly, safely and easily?
These apps rock.
Google Maps is the most universal map app because Google is everywhere.
Maps is not 100% reliable – what is? – but pretty darn close.
If your taxi driver made a wrong turn or if you get lost on your motorbike, one quick swipe can right your course.
Maps gives you confidence traveling to remote areas or busy, urban centers. You know where to go and how to get there. No need to be at the mercy of less than scrupulous drivers or locals who cannot read maps.
When I lived in Jimbaran, Bali for 6 months we spent time at a massive villa in a remote area of town. I almost saw more pythons than people there.
Our motorbike went caput. Rather than try to drive the thing into town, we contacted a mechanic who rode to the house. Said mechanic spoke no words of English. Google Translate came to the rescue as we communicated through Bahasa Indonesian.
I explained my problem. He found the solution. 30 minutes later we rode off for a Friday night cruise around the village.
Translator apps connect the world. You are not 100% reliant on Caveman-type hand signals to communicate with people outside of tourist spots. I just had an awesome discussion with our taxi driver in Istanbul a few months ago exclusively through our translating apps. How neat!
Tweetdeck makes growing your business overseas easier because you save precious time engaging people and schedule updates through the application.
Twitter can be a bit heavy, especially with less than optimal Internet connections in remote areas. Tweetdeck loads quickly and easily.
Engaging on Tweetdeck is a breeze. I prefer to save as much time and energy as possible online to make more time for travel offline. Plus I schedule Tweetdeck updates around the clock to connect with my readers halfway across the globe.
My Facebook Live Broadcasts build my brand and grow my business because people get to be there with me, in real-time, as I circle the globe.
Some readers love traveling but others live vicariously through me. Imagine if traveling is not an option for you but you see me broadcast live from Mars-like Cappadocia, Turkey? What a thrill. You will never see Cappadocia in person but you experience it live via my Facebook Broadcast.
Needless to say, my international live videos get shared most frequently and drive traffic and profits to and through my blog because prospective travelers and non-travelers both love seeing me chat live from exotic hot spots.
Use technology sparingly during travels to improve a few aspects of circling the globe and growing your business.
Do not be that couple staring glassy-eyed at their phones in Bangkok for 30 minutes while colorful sights, fascinating sounds and an exotic, culture-heavy scene passes them by. You are not traveling during these 30 minutes. You are online, and just happen to be in Bangkok.
Tech should never be a crutch or obsession. See the blessing in using apps to better enjoy your travels and to more easily grow your business as you circle the globe.
Have you used any of Ryan’s favorite tech tools when you travel? Do you have any tech tools that you recommend? Have you ever been too distracted by tech when you traveled?
Share your thoughts in the Comments section below!
*Phuket, Thailand beach photo (edited) courtesy of Maher Najm via Flickr and Creative Commons