iPod and Other MP3 Player Tips
MP3 players (like iPods) aren't just for music anymore. These days, you can download podcasts, watch TV shows and movies, and even let Rick Steves guide you though the sights of Paris, London, Rome, and more with our audio tours.
What are your favorite tips for using an MP3 player as you travel?
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
GPS on an iPod Touch
After a lot of trial and error with my iPod Touch over the past 12 months, I think I've finally figured out how to do it. It's an almost unknown feature, Apple doesn't have any documentation on it, and I've been unable to locate any unofficial info about it either.
This will only work when walking around in a city, it won't work as well in a car. I've only tested it with my iPod Touch but it should also work with a WiFi only iPad.
This is what you do:
1. Before you leave for your trip you'll need to install an offline mapping app like "CityMaps2Go". You need offline maps because you will not actually be connecting to the internet while you are doing your sightseeing.
2. When you arrive in a new city you'll have to find a hotpot (hotel, Mcdonalds, Starbucks etc) and connect to the internet. This is the one and only time you need an internet connection.
3. Open either the built-in Apple "Map" app, or the Google Maps app, and open-up the "directions" option. Now enter any two points in the city, like from the train station to your hotel, or between any other two points of interest. After the app gives you directions the device will automatically load a database, from Apple, of all Wifi hotpots in the entire city! That database will now reside in the memory of the iPod Touch even after you exit Google Maps, and until you reboot the device. Any other app that uses the location service can now access that database.
4. At this point you no longer need to be connected to the internet, but the device must still be in Wifi mode. As you are walking around the city the device will be detecting Wifi hotpots (but not connecting to them), the device reads the hotpots MAC serial numbers and in the background looks up the hotspot's coordinates off the database, and is able to determine and show your exact location anywhere you are in the city with an offline map app like CityMaps2Go.
I've now used this feature successfully in Budapest, London, Manhattan, Toronto, and last week in Amsterdam and Hamburg. It's very accurate, determines your location in milliseconds, and I haven't come across in gaps in coverage.
New Paltz, NY USA 09/26/2013
Data and Photography
For data, I sometimes splurge and buy 300MB of data from ATT&T ($60). This let's me use maps and Yelp when wandering. They also have a $30 plan for $120. Just remember to turn of the data when you return home as it's a monthly recurring charge.
I've stopped carrying a dedicated camera and now use my iPhone 5 exclusively and get fantastic results. I attach my iPhone to a Joby tripod using the very cool Glif attachment (from Studio Neat), then print my photos using the FreePrints app.
Los Angeles, CA USA 08/02/2013
iHome compact speakers -GREAT!
Bought some external speakers for my iPad2 at Costco. IHome compact speakers for $40. They are lightweight and come with their own drawstring pouch. We take the ipad to watch movies in our hotel room at night, and these speakers certainly help with the experience. They pack easily in a pair of shoes in my carry on, so they don't take up much space. They weight is basically nothing, but the sound is great. Very useful with my iphone or ipad to play some music as well in the noisy hotel rooms at night.
homesick for anywhere in Italy, USA 03/14/2013
Google Calendar and Spotify
I am going to Ireland in a couple days, and I have an iPhone. Using Google Calendar, I have set input all set times for tours, bus times, etc. and can access it from my phone. It pays off when you want to print something out, because it's all in the interwebs so you can access google calendar from anywhere (so long as you have gmail). You need internet to have an iPhone-created event go to your computer calendar, but wifi is easily accessible.
Also, I use Spotify and they give you a 30-day free trial. I'll be starting that tonight, and take all my playlists offline so I can listen to them in the air, without wifi, etc. Also will have the option to listen to something other than radio.
Northport, NY USA 01/05/2013
Rick Steves' Veloce Bag for iPad plus REI Camera Strap We were pleased with the Steves' bag, and especially the ability to expand the bag, but the strap would not stay on my husband's shoulder. We bought a Camera Strap from REI which has a rubber backing at the shoulder to hold the bag on the shoulder and steel CABLES within the straps. Much better security from a knife-wielding thief.
Weston, MA USA 10/23/2012
iPad - Just Say "Yes"
Last year, I travelled to London and Paris and my iPad was with me every step of the way. At JFK (and again Heathrow), it did not have to be taken out of my carry-on bag as it is not considered a computer so there is no scramble to get it back into the bag. By going on Amazon and purchasing a small adapter, I was able to transfer the day's photos to my iPad at night. With hotel WiFi, I was posting them on Facebook, Twitter and e-mailing them (sure beats postcards!). On a long bus ride (to Oxford, and then to see Stonehenge), I had my iPad charged and past the hours reading (you can download Rick's travel guides if you want to be prepared). Also, with headphones, my iPad did double duty as a iPod (for a little musical interlude). And there was a nifty currency converter I found as well.
This year I am going on RS' Best of Europe tour and from France, through Germany, Switzerland and Italy, my iPad will be with me again.
New York, NY USA 08/09/2012
Multiple listeners to podcasts
Get a splitter so you can have two audio hook-ups on a lone player. The person carrying the player can be hard wired. Buy a Bluetooth device for the second person to roam freely while listening to the same podcast. All parts are available at any consumer electronics store.
Phoenix, AZ USA 07/21/2012
Kindle Fire / Ireland?
Can anyone tell me if they've used a Kindle Fire ind Ireland. I thought it would be a great purchase for our upcoming trip, yet I've read the "Fire" is not a good option.
Denver, Co. USA 04/21/2012