3 Travel App Hacks

You don’t need a specialized travel app to make great use of your smartphone while travelling. Here are a few tips for taking advantage of that crazy-expensive device that’s always within arm’s reach.

Using Google Maps without Connecting

If you have a newish phone, you may have functioning GPS even without a data connection or WiFi. This GPS capability will work with pre-loaded maps that have locator ability, such as Lonely Planet or Time Out. But, with some preparation, it will also work with Google Maps, which streams maps to your phone.

You must get your destination into your phone while you are connected. Look up the location of, say, the Florence Airport. Then minimize Google Maps and leave it be. Then, when you are completely lost and you find yourself driving around the Florentine suburbs in circles, getting on and off highways randomly, the little blue dot will let you know where you are in relation to the airport—the rest will be up to you. But that blue dot may just save you from driving halfway to Bologna before you realize you’re going the wrong way.

Accessing Your Research from the Cloud

One of the best ways to access documents on your phone is through Dropbox or another cloud service. Putting all your details into an itinerary manager can be a hassle, and then what about your notes, and PDF etickets, and spreadsheets with your budget info?

If you save all your travel research on your computer in Dropbox, you can access it through the Dropbox app on your phone. And if you “favourite” those items you need most (like your upcoming bookings, or a scan of your passport) you’ll be able to call them up on your phone without a data connection or WiFi. Gone are the days of travelling with a file folder of print-outs!

Keeping it Simple: Use Your Camera

When you’re out and about, taking pictures of restaurant signs, hiking trail maps, opening times, entry fees and street signs for later consultation is one of the most useful things you can do with your smartphone.

If you’re exploring a city on foot, take photos of every interesting restaurant you see. Back at your accommodation, connect to WiFi and check each one on TripAdvisor to help you select that night’s winner.

Got a big guidebook you don’t want to lug around all day? Take pictures of the relevant pages. Want to keep Google directions and route maps? Take a screen grab. If you won’t have a connection when you’re touring, take screen grabs of the restos you’ve saved on TripAdvisor. Just remember to delete these snaps when they’ve served their purpose—so they don’t waste time, memory, and data when you download your holiday pics.

The post originally appeared on  Travel + Escape.