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iPhones—Your favourite travelling companion

Travelling with valuables is generally advised against, but who can imagine life without the trusty iPhone these days? Besides, one of the best ways to prevent loss or theft of your smartphone is to clutch it in a tight grasp, like an extension of your hand. Here are some suggestions to optimise your iPhone for travel, soon making it more valuable than opposable thumbs!

Manage your data settings so that your phone uses minimal or no data at all while abroad. For absolutely no data usage (meaning Wi-Fi enabled only), go to Settings > Mobile > Mobile Data Off.

For limited data, go to Settings > Mobile, and then scroll down to manually turn off data for individual apps, allowing only essential apps to use data. Be sure to turn Facebook off, as it is a well-known data guzzler!

Make sure that your phone will not automatically download music, apps, books or updates once it taps into a data network. You can do this by going to Settings > iTunes & App Store > Use Mobile Data Off.

Turn off Background App Refresh by going to Settings > General > Background App Refresh. This will also cut back on data usage.

Note that Google Maps uses significantly more data than Apple Maps because the former downloads image tiles whereas the latter uses vectors.

Also make sure that your iPhone has enough free space! You don’t want to lose a fantastic photo op because your phone doesn’t have enough memory to store the image. Look under the Storage heading to see how much free space is available on your device. Tap Manage Storage to see a breakdown by app, and make adjustments (i.e. deleting old podcasts) as necessary.

Everyone uses Dropbox to store and share files, but it’s really handy for storing digital versions of important travel documents such as passports, credit cards, visas, boarding passes or travel confirmations. Gone are the days when you had to keep hard photocopies of important documents; with Dropbox, you can make anything available offline by starring it, at which point it will appear in your favourites folder. Not only can you streamline your travel experience with this nifty feature, but you can save a few trees while you’re at it too!

Flight tracker (multiple apps)
Look up your flight by flight number or date and airline to see live status updates for possible delays, changes or the dreaded cancellation.

Convert Units
The free version of this app converts everything from temperature and distance to currency and even shoe size; however, the app requires a data connection for accurate up-to-date currency conversions.

Word Lens
This app translates text in real time! Although it’s far from perfect (translations are sometimes unreliable or inaccurate), Word Lens is great for menus or directional signage. Simply hold your phone in front of foreign text and your phone’s screen will display English translations. Be sure to download the applicable language, though only a limited number are available.

This app engineered by Microsoft allows you to take panoramic photos. Unlike the native camera app on the iPhone that allows panoramic shots only in a straight horizontal line, Photosynth enables you to capture the 3D space of a sphere. Featuring a user-friendly interface, it’s great for epic 360-degree views or extreme changes in elevation. Once stitched, the panoramic can be viewed in a 3D environment or exported as a flattened version to your camera roll.

Polarr Photo Editor
This app features advanced photo-editing software for iOS. The app itself is free to download, but a £3.99 in-app purchase unlocks all the pro features. Polarr is meant for those who seek more capabilities than the native Photos app on iPhone and produces Instagram-worthy results!

City Mapper
This is the best app for navigation by far, featuring options for public transport, walking, cycling or driving. It even estimates the cost, time and calories burned for most journeys. You can also save itineraries for offline access. City Mapper is currently limited to a handful of cities, but more are being added.

Galileo Offline Maps
Without a doubt, Galileo is a must-download for travellers without a reliable data connection. The free version allows users to download vector maps of destination countries or regions. A major bonus: the blue dot that indicates your location is enabled through GPS, which requires no data connection at all. Based on OpenStreetMap, an open source mapping platform, Galileo offers more details than Apple or Google Maps, albeit not as streamlined. But it shows pedestrian paths that other map applications don’t, which is a huge help in navigating through national parks, for example. To see the distance between two points, simply tap and hold with two fingers. Galileo is ideal for manoeuvring through narrow, labyrinthine streets (re: Venice)!

The pro version (£2.99) allows you to save bookmarks with notes on your map as well as options for different categories or symbols. The upgrade is well worth it if you like to research places to visit beforehand.

Note that the app is not well suited for searching, therefore, you’d have to use another application in tandem for maximum efficiency.

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By Frances Lai

Frontier runs conservationdevelopmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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