Technology Tips: 2010
European tourism now comes with a digital divide: those with high tech gadgets and those without. Which fancy new tools are worth the trouble and actually enhance your travels?
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Ultralingua German-English Dictionary on iPhone
This software might be useful for anyone looking for a dictionary to carry on an iPhone or iTouch.
There is a learning curve, poor directions and little help. Still, I was using it after 30 minutes of trial and error.
It was quicker to look-up words on Ultralingua than my Langenscheidt Compact Dictionary.
Words not found in the Ultralingua data-base were likewise not in the dictionary.
All conjugated forms of German verbs not in either. ("Ihr wiest" - You have to guess that this may be a form of weisen.)
The cell phone weighs only 40% as much as the dictionary and I carry it anyway.
The downside of using iPhone is that it stresses my eyes more than print.
The Ultralingua Dictionary on the iPhone would be a handy tool on a trip to Germany.
Salt Lake City, UT USA Thu 12/30/2010
Skype for phone calls
Skype works great, and is very cheap. I bought $10 of Skype credit so I could call any landline and over 3 weeks using it for B&B, info, reservations, didn't use it up.
Seattle, WA USA Sat 10/23/2010
Tripit.com is a great way to store all your travel info and itineraries, and make them available to yourself and any family/frineds you want. Email confirmations from most vendors can be loaded automatically, no need to manually enter the info.
Seattle, WA USA Sat 10/23/2010
You can also make PDFs of your docs and send them to Google Docs - it's really simple and you can retrieve them anywhere.
Naperville, IL USA Mon 10/11/2010
Phone use, + and -
Thanks to this website/page we arranged for a Verizon wireless phone for European travel. (See elsewhere in this tab.) Great: my cell number continued unchanged, and calls & texts from the US were cost-free (on the US end). And the basic cost, which was about $11 for the 22 days. Not great: I have been billed $66+ for "roaming" Phone on my end (sending/receiving) cost $1.25+ When stuck on Hold at my bank for 10 minutes (not Verizon's fault, I'll agree), it adds up.
Chanhassen, MN USA Tue 09/21/2010
Use of credit/debit cards sometimes iffy
Not all credit or debit cards work in all point-of-sale machines in Europe. I believe they're ahead of us with a chip (or SIM card) for their electronic transactions. I had to use cash at a couple of campgrounds and also at gas stations when neither our bank's debit/Visa card worked nor did my Bank of America/AAA credit card. The gizmo could not read the magnetic strip. ALSO, notify your bank and your credit card company that you will be using your cards out of country. AND VERIFY that they have logged this information into their system. I got a nasty surprise when I was notified that the debit/Visa card account had been locked. This required several phone calls to my banks' service center, which wasn't easy with a seven-hour time difference! They admitted that my "personal banker" had failed to pass along my pre-trip notification. Some personal service, eh?!?
Chanhassen, MN USA Tue 09/21/2010
We bought a Garmin and downloaded the UK/European maps onto a microchip to be inserted. Caution: Do this days ahead of your departure. Procedure requires savvy and time: at least on our wireless DSL, the download required 2+ hours. GPS use was 80-90% positive. I recommend a navigator following along with a hardcopy map at hand (including, if possible, city maps) because (a) GPS was sometimes wrong: left, not right; occasionally missed identifying the correct road number on major routes (e.g. it was not A23, it was A25); usually but not always correct in IDing which round-about exit to take and (b) Garmin, at least, identifies turns by (sometimes audibly unintelligible and visually unposted) street names, not by route number or points of the compass (and neither do many road signs mention N, S, E, W [INVALID] but they do list cities/towns and your navigator possibly could verify your direction). Overall, I agree with others: Boy, a GPS is sure a useful and cost-worthy gadget!
Chanhassen, MN USA Tue 09/21/2010
V-Tuner Internet Radio
I enjoy listening to Internet Radio on my laptop and at home. I use VTuner which has internet radio from around the world. I like NRJ,Cherie FM from Paris to my favorite local radio stations from home. If your teens or you are homesick they can listen to their favorite radio stations and share them with their new European Friends. Before you go to a country you can listen to their music and enjoy the culture before you take off. Its worth paying the cost to use WIFI on the plane because I can hookup some headphones and listen for hours to my favorite radio stations online. Best of all VTuner is free and there is no software other than having Windows Media Player,Itunes or WinAmp that can play the files. The sound quality is better than your plain old radio tuner.
Bay Area, CA USA Fri 09/17/2010
Inexpensive Navi for W. Europe
I bought a refurbished TomTom navigation on eBay for $59 plus shipping with US and W. Europe maps. It was wonderful for a 2 week driving tour of Great Britain. We never got lost and we saved lots of time by taking the best routes. It even chimed when you went 10% over the speed limit (often not posted) and warned to stay to the left. Better yet, we can use it in the car now that we are back home.
Austin, TX USA Thu 09/16/2010
H2O / Big lots
We returned from Europe and I wanted to [INVALID] my post. The H2O phone from Big Lots worked. As for the Sim card from National Geographic / Cellular Abroad it worked, but with some difficulties. We traveled across 9 countries. Sometime the network the phone found would not allow an outward call. But If I would search for a new network from the set up menu, preferably T-mobile, then I could make calls.
Munster, IN USA Mon 08/23/2010
H2O / Big lots
I bought the H2O Motorola Razr at Big Lots on sale for $20.00 Then I ordered the Cellular Abroad / National Geographic sim card on Ebay. Saves you $20 over their website. They shipped it Fedex. After installing the sim card, I successfully made a test call to the Razr phone from my home land line. We leave Friday, so I will update when we return. The main reason I went with Cellular Abroad over a cheaper European sim card is that I wanted a US phone number my employees and parents could call without extra expense to them; while we will use the UK phone number while visiting several different countries.
Munster, IN USA Sun 08/01/2010
Cell Phone Purchase in Europe
When in Italy this summer I paid less for a new Vodafone cell phone than I would have paid for a new SIM card for my Virgin phone.
Louisville, KY USA Sat 07/31/2010
Big Lots Phone
Most phones sold in the US are locked, unlocked phones usually come with a price much higher than you'll see in any retail outlet. Make sure that it is a quad-band phone as he US and European frequency(s) are different. If going to Spain, don't bother with a sim, the security is a hassle.
Lewisville, TX USA Mon 07/26/2010
H2O cell phones at BigLots
Has anyone actually used this phone with a 3rd party sim? The packaging at my local Big lot states that the cashier must activate the phone. H2)'s website implies it is a locked pay as you go phone.
Before I buy one for France, I'd like to know that it actually wis unlocked!
Placerville, USA Wed 07/21/2010
Backing up Documents
If you have a cell phone with a decent camera you can take a picture of important documents and just keep them in the phones memory for emergencies.
Ottawa, ON Canada Sun 07/18/2010
Charging Your Gizmos and Gadgets
I always bring a power strip on group trips. This way I can charge my cell, cameras and iPod with one outlet while everyone else fights over the few remaining outlets!
East Meadow, NY USA Mon 07/12/2010
I had seen the phones at Big Lots but was afraid they would only work on the prepaid network. Thank you for posting the information.
Shelby, Ala USA Sun 07/11/2010
Cheap quad-band phone
For those looking for a good-quality basic phone with quad-band capability, the discount chain Big Lots is selling Motorola Razr V3 GSM phones for $25. Just picked one up for our trip next year. These are UNLOCKED phones, ready for the sim chip of your choice. They're packaged as refurbished, (but mine looks brand new) and are sold by a prepaid company called H2O Wireless.
Arvada, CO USA Tue 07/06/2010
My friend and I downloaded the Deutsche Bahn Railnavigator for our Blackberries. Kept us up to the minute on each train for every city. The hardest thing about it was figuring out how to get it from German to English. Highly Recommended.
Mooresville, IN USA Fri 07/02/2010
USB chargers instead of wall-socket
For any rechargeable electronics, dump the normal wall-socket charger and use the USB cables along with one of the travel-converters that has two USB ports. Lets you use one outlet to charge two devices, and saves some space in your bag. This worked well for me in India & China since I had to take three cell phones (work, personal for wifi tethering, and local SIM-card phone). Works great on planes with sockets under the seats too.
Phoenix, AZ USA Sun 06/20/2010
Connecting to WiFi
I downloaded WeFi www,wefi.com which helps you to search for and connect to free open WiFi Hotspots around the world. If the Hotspot is password protected it will let you know and help you to enter the correct password. This software is good for those with laptops and mobile phones with WiFi.
CA USA Fri 06/18/2010
Best way to carry copies of documents
learned this trick from a friend.
Scan your passport, credit cards and ANY OTHER document or list that you would be lost without or may need to replace while traveling.
Attach it to an email and email it to yourself and leave it in the inbox. Web based mail is best.
That way if all goes to pieces and you lose one or more documents or important info you can always get on the internet somewhere and print out the info etc.
Store the scans on your PHONE or on a camera flash SD disk and tuck it away inside your shoes etc.
San Francisco, CA USA Fri 06/18/2010
Telestial SIM card
I bought the Telestial V520 international cell phone for Europe and their Passport SIM card. It works ok but with a big problem: the phone does not always hang up when you press the red hang-up key; you have to press an additional "end" key. I was charged an extra $20 for call time until I discovered the problem. A co-traveller with the same phone had the same problem. Telestial denies the problem.
Palo Alto, CA USA Wed 06/02/2010
travel program for BlackBerry
I have been using WorldMateLive.com on my Blackberry for two years now. It is a great program. I am sure there are others out there, but this one works well for me. Keeps you informed of plane delays, and keeps all hotels, cars etc in one place.
Calgary, AB Canada Mon 05/10/2010
Wifi with T-Mobile
I used my Blackberry Curve 8900 and 9700 with T-Mobile overseas since they have UMA access. This means you can use your phone over wi-fi and your normal plan minutes get deducted. It's just like using your phone in the USA and you don't get charged roaming fees.
Just make sure your Mobile network is turned off and just wi-fi is enabled in case you accidentally start roaming.
I used it extensively in India wherever I could find wi-fi and the call quality is great. I found this to be better than skype since I can use my cell phone number.
Sacramento, CA USA Wed 05/05/2010
pocket computer/skype to-go
A local CEO was one of those stranded in Ireland about a week longer from the volcano ash; his computer [with skype] was also on the fritz. This is how he could have gone computerless.
Gain access to a computer on the internet. Take  a thumbdrive with the suite from portableapps.com installed on it; also add the program 'portable skype' from the same place. Then port all your documents onto the thumbdrive. And also take  a GE voice over internet In-ear Stereo Earset [available at Staples, $19.99]. This earset also works flawlessly with the iphone, other cell phones, and portable audio players and will also work with the audio system on planes! Using these two 'accessories' makes it now possible to take 'your computer needs' in a pocket.
Cincinnati, OH USA Fri 04/30/2010
Key travel info on Kindle
I use my Amazon Kindle e-reader a lot, at home and away. Shortly before leaving on a trip, I prepare a Word document with my travel information, including airline e-ticket itineraries, hotel reservation information, and any other transportation, sightseeing or other information I want to have handy. Then I email that Word file to my Kindle account, and for a minimal charge, it's automatically formatted for my Kindle and delivered wirelessly to the device. It's a snap to open the document on the Kindle for reference while moving around, instead of rummaging for pieces of paper in my bag.
Denver, CO USA Sun 03/28/2010
Scan all your important documents and attach them to an email - send the email to yourself. Your important stuff will always be available from any computer.
Point Richmond, CA USA Fri 03/19/2010