Apps for your vacation: The right ones on your smartphone make traveling safer and more convenient23. April 2019 Published by Raphael Doerr
Whether it’s a short trip, vacation or cruise: the smartphone comes along. It’s the most useful and important device many holidaymakers take with them. Of course, you can make calls and snap photos with it – but the right apps transform it in a jiffy into a mobile travel guide, navigation system, currency converter, translator and restaurant finder and enable it to perform many other tasks. So it’s no surprise that the 60+ generation are leveraging the benefits of these digital aids more and more. Around two-thirds of all vacationers use one or more travel apps on their smartphone.
Do you want to travel with little baggage, yet still have everything with you? Well you can with the right travel apps. But you’re also spoiled for choice: Google Play Store alone offers some 130,000 travel apps for Android smartphones. If you add lifestyle and food & drink apps, useful aids, etc., that figure rises to a hefty 1.5 million.
That’s why we focus here on the most useful ones that have been awarded a positive rating by the relevant specialist media. Our main emphasis is on three areas: safety, convenience and service on trips abroad. No matter what apps you choose or if you prefer to search yourself: Always download them at home and try them out so that you’re familiar with their functions.
The emergency pass
There is an emergency pass on Android, as well as on iOS devices. No PIN is required to access the information. It’s unlikely that medical responders will first look for your smartphone and open the pass in an emergency when every second counts. Yet the data stored in it is helpful. However, the information may well be useful for staff at the hospital itself, for example so that they can contact relatives or find out what diseases, allergies or intolerances you have or what medication you take. That data first has to be entered carefully and then kept up-to-date. Android users can read how to create the emergency pass correctly and what they need to heed here.
All roads lead to Rome, as the saying goes, but there are times when many a tourist would just be grateful to find the quickest way to the nearest toilet. If you’re in a foreign city where you don’t speak the language and urgently need to take a leak, there is an app to help you find a WC.
“Bathroom Scout” knows the location of 2 million restrooms worldwide. It lists public toilets, as well as WCs at restaurants, service stations and other establishments such as department stores. The map shows the nearest toilets to where you are. If you click on it, the app automatically navigates you to one, Bathroom Scout is directly linked with Google Maps. A practical feature is that Google Street View is integrated in the app and so also shows a photo of the building where the toilet is located. The app is free for Android smartphones.
Do you understand me?
A translation app makes the smartphone the most important companion on every vacation. “Google Translate” helps you translate into or from more than 70 languages at any time. No Internet connection is required for that: A practical aspect is that individual language packs can also be downloaded offline. That means you can use the app on trips abroad at any time without incurring roaming charges. The text to be translated can be typed in or spoken; you can also write text by hand and have to translated into the language you want. And if you wish to talk with someone, such as the hotel porter or restaurant waiter, Conversation Mode helps you out. It automatically recognizes which language is being spoken. That means you can talk with people even if you can’t speak their language.
Keeping in touch with the family
“I’ve just landed. The flight was OK, I’ll get in touch later :). Love, Grandma” – that is what many WhatsApp messages look like. WhatsApp is the most frequently used free messenger service in Germany. It’s easy to operate and offers numerous useful features, such as sending photos. 85 percent of smartphone owners above the age of 65 communicate using WhatsApp or other messenger services to keep in contact with family and friends. WhatsApp can also be used to make phone calls from abroad. Free calls with friends and relatives are possible with the app – provided you and the person you’re calling are connected to a WiFi network. That’s best done abroad from hotels or cafés, where you don’t have to pay for using WiFi. Then the call really does not cost a penny and you can also send your holiday snaps. Here, too, the rule of thumb is: practice is more important than theory. So simply ask your kids or grandchildren to install the app for you and explain it. And then off you go!
The exact location: I’m sitting in “bottle.thing.fleas.”
“Mum, granddad is writing on WhatsApp that he’s sitting on a bench at “bottle.thing.fleas” and is about to go to “loyal.dear.organ” to see the Mona Lisa. Is granddad alright?” His grandson’s question for his mother could well be justified. But don’t fear: Granddad’s doing just fine and is simply using his new locator and address system “what3words”. And that works with just three words. What he wants to tell his grandchild in this example translates into plain language as: I’m sitting on a park bench in the Jardin des Tuileries and am going to the Louvre right away. Mother can then show her son the exact position on the map on her smartphone. what3words is a new and truly simply way of finding locations and letting family and friends know precisely where you are. The London-based start-up what3words has divided the world up into 57 trillion 3m x 3m squares and assigned a unique three-word address to each of them. That means anyone can find every place accurately and communicate their location faster, more simply and more precisely than in any other system. The service can be used with the free app for mobile devices and with the online map. Whether you’re sitting on a bench in the park or standing of front of a museum, you can always be pinpointed.
There are also four different map options for locating positions, including Google Maps.
The what3words system is permanent and never changes. That means a current 3 word address will still be valid in 10 years’ time. The app is free for Android and is very simple to understand and use.
Explore a city offline
Google Maps comes preinstalled on most Android smartphones. The app also works abroad – and excellently, too, if you’re online, i.e. have a network connection. Yet there are always situations where reception is very poor or you simply want to cut out expensive roaming charges. Offline maps are especially suitable for that. CityMaps2Go for Android is definitely an interesting complement to Google Maps if you’re visiting a city. “CityMaps2Go” supplies pretty extensive map data to help you find your way around an unfamiliar city. The app presents more than 7,000 countries and cities and shows where sights, hotels or museums are. And it’s easy to use. You first choose the city you wish to visit and download the map material for it. You can then use the search box to select categories such as hotel, food, culture, public transport, sights or shopping, which are then shown on the map. A useful feature is that important data, such as opening hours, contact details and prices, are also displayed.
Tickets and tours can therefore be booked in advance directly with the app – and that in particular saves time. The free basic version allows you to download a single map. The Pro version currently costs about €9 and comes with all 8,000 destinations worldwide and unlimited access to all maps. Moreover, no adverts are displayed in the Pro version.
Moovit – when’s the next train?
“Moovit” helps you get from A to B on public transport anywhere in the world quickly and easily and without having to decipher timetables in a foreign language. Moovit is a mobility app that specializes in local public transport. “The app has been around for a number of years and its operator claims that it has more than 100 million users in over 1,800 cities. Real-time arrival updates for buses mean users know precisely when they have to be at a stop. Bicycle-sharing systems can also be taken into account when planning routes. The clear map function and above all the very clear route planning feature show the individual stops precisely and present them in a very clear way.” The function for downloading route maps for the selected city is also a big advantage. That means the maps are also available offline and stored on your phone.
TripAdvisor – solid homely fare or just tasty (for iOS and Android)
Where to go for a meal? What restaurant is good and offers fair value for money? The right restaurant app provides the answer and so is a must on every smartphone. If you’re on vacation or in a new city and want to find the supposedly “best restaurant” that has already been tested and recommended by other travelers, the “TripAdvisor” app is definitely a good choice. When looking for an establishment type, you can choose between the categories Restaurants, Dessert and Coffee & Tea, for example. You can also filter results by price, type of cuisine and location.
The right smartphone for your vacation
And if you’re looking for the right mobile phone for your vacation, you should make sure it has a long battery life and supports dual SIM cards – like Gigaset’s latest top model, the GS280. Those are the key features of a good phone for your holiday alongside the camera and voice quality. A dual-SIM phone allows you to use two mobile networks simultaneously. That means you no longer need to swap SIM cards or carry two phones with you. Dual SIM is ideal in particular for traveling: The SIM card of your national mobile network operator is inserted in the first slot, for example so that you can be reached by your family in an emergency, and in the second you insert the prepaid SIM card from a local provider. That means you can always make calls at the cheapest rate. Yet there’s a further advantage that should not be underestimated: memory space.
Three good reasons
The smartphone’s internal memory, whether 16 or 32 GB, can be increased to a princely 256 GB with a card at any time. That saves money and is also very practical. A suitable microSD card is simply inserted into the third slot on the Gigaset GS280, allowing you to take thousands of holiday snaps or store the most important offline maps. Its battery life is extremely long: Several weeks in standby mode and, even when used all the time, the smartphone boasts a lot of staying power and only needs to be recharged every few days.
The new Gigaset GS280 has these functions and is also Made in Germany. “We manufacture the GS280 at our plant in Bocholt, Germany, making us the only company to produce smartphones in a European location,” says Andreas Merker, Head of Smartphones at Gigaset.
The smartphone boasts facial recognition and a fingerprint sensor for enhanced security and convenience, making the Gigaset GS280 quick and easy to unlock. It’s operated by fingerprint. Whether taking calls, scrolling through screen pages, opening the camera or taking photos – the functions can be used easily, even if you only have one hand free.
Here is an overview of the features:
Outstanding functionality and quality for price-conscious customers.
• 5.7-inch 18:9 full-HD+ IPS display – so you keep a clear overview of everything
• Triple card slot (dual SIM plus microSD card)
• Powerful battery with a quick-charging function via USB Type-C
• 4G/LTE with VoLTE and VoWiFi – new technology for voice calls
• Face recognition and fingerprint sensor for secure and convenient use
• 16-MP PDAF main camera + 13-MP selfie camera
Whether you’re on vacation or on the road, you naturally want to know if all’s fine at home. In the next blog post, we show you how you can check that everything’s as it should be with the Gigaset elements app and smart home solution – from anywhere, any time.