Tips for Using Your Cell Phone While Traveling

Cell phones or smartphones are ubiquitous. Even “third-world” countries take our older cast-offs and rely on them in the most ingenious ways (like money transferring – they were doing that on a daily basis long before Venmo existed!). As a travel tool, it is invaluable and today I am sharing some tips for using your cell phone while traveling, brought to you by a few travel bloggers, so definitely people in the know!

Tips for Using Your Cell Phone While Traveling Blog

Before I launch into their tips, the impetus for this post was 2 tips I picked up along my own journies. A while back Jeremiah of Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang wrote a post called Tips From a Road Warrior.

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As a seasoned traveler, most of the tips were not new to me, but there was one that I thought was absolutely genius. Jeremiah suggested that you note your parking spot in your cell phone – how smart is that??? And on a recent trip, I read a travel magazine on the plane.

In it, a reader suggested doing something similar. He said to note your hotel room number in an entry in your cell phone under “room.” Very smart since most room keys no longer have the room number on them.

While I was waiting for my luggage I thought of another tip. Most cell phones come with great cameras on them. Why not take a picture of your luggage? If your luggage gets lost, you don't have to worry about describing it to the Lost Luggage Department, you have a pic! I used this tip when my luggage was lost in Paris and it was very helpful!

From the Experts: Tips for Using Your Cell Phone While Traveling


One thing I always use my cell phone for when I’m traveling is maps. Map apps are definitely some of the most useful travel apps in my opinion! When I’m in a new place I need to use Google Maps in order to know where I am and how to get around whether that be walking, taking a taxi, or using public transport.

The best thing about the Google Maps app is that you can pre-download maps so you can access them even when you don’t have internet. This has helped me a ton because I don’t always have cellphone data when I travel. In this case, I just pre-download the map of the area I’m traveling to when I am connected to Wi-Fi, and then when I arrive I know exactly where I am and how to get to my hotel even without an internet connection.

The app Google Maps is 100% free and on the app there is an option of downloading offline maps. Another free app that offers the same type of feature is called Maps.Me and I find it equally as useful as Google Maps but it also has extra information specific to travelers such as viewpoints and popular attractions.

This cell phone tip was provided by Bailey Busslinger of Destinationless Travel.


These days, traveling has become less and less stressful thanks to our smartphones and the awesome travel apps available to us. We personally tend to travel with an open schedule, and sometimes don’t even have a plan for where we will stay the next night or even the night of! But thanks to an app called Hotels Tonight, it makes our planning a lot easier.

Hotels Tonight allows you to book hotels for that night at a discounted rate. These hotels would rather rent a room for a cheaper price than let the room sit empty that night, so they send their discounted rooms to Hotels Tonight. This app can help you save both time and money. They also give you a “deal of the day” where you can get a great room for a great price, but you only have a certain amount of time to book it.

For those of you who do not like waiting till the *very last minute, you can use Hotels Tonight for stays in advance as well. It’s a great app to have while traveling in case you run into any bumps on the way as well like your accommodations were not booked properly when you arrived. It’s free to download and available on most smartphones.

This cell phone tip was provided by Sara of Our Kind of Crazy.


If you’re planning on frequent international travel or long-term travel in multiple countries, constantly purchasing a local sim card, switching it out each time you cross borders, and keeping track of various numbers can be confusing. Or, if you’re traveling with your mobile from your home country, international texting and calling charges can add up insanely fast, if you’re not careful.

A great workaround is to communicate through apps like Whatsapp, which allows you to make calls, send photos, or text with your friends and family, at no cost. As long as your phone is connected to wifi, or is linked to a data plan, you can use Whatsapp. It’s also free to download, and is a great alternative to iMessage, if you’re not an Apple user.

Messaging is encrypted, keeping your communications secure, and it has a fantastic group messaging feature, perfect for planning group trips or for easily sharing photos with your travel buddies. Conversations are archived, and files can be shared with the group, another handy feature when traveling with others. Download it before you set off overseas and keep in frequent contact with your loved ones, without having to stress about sky-high international roaming fees.

This cell phone tip was provided by Katie Dundas, The Accidental Australian.

Storing Content – Using a Cloud App

One of the best things about phones nowadays is how incredible the cameras can be. This can save a lot of packing space especially if you're traveling light. However, phones are high up on the list of pickpocketed items and it can be disastrous to lose all the photos and videos you've taken during your trip.

Even more so if you're traveling long-term. Although it's not always free, having a Cloud storage app installed can relieve a lot of the stress should your phone be lost or stolen. There are hundreds of options out there but Google, Apple, and Amazon are some of the most well-known. Prices will vary depending on your needs but if you're not taking thousands of photos, basic or even free packages could be for you.

When looking for the best app to use, always check for any existing perks you may be entitled to. For example, Google Drive gives 15GB of free storage just for having a Google account. Also, in the UK, Amazon Prime members get unlimited cloud photo storage and 5GB of video as standard! It's definitely a must-have app when it comes to storing all your photos and videos if the worst should happen.

This cell phone tip was provided by Oli Diprose of Not Brits Abroad.

Water refill stations

With increasing awareness of the horrendous harm the use of plastics is doing to our planet and particularly our oceans it's important to try and minimize their use of them where possible, even when traveling. The trouble is safe drinking water is often not available in most developing countries and you need to purchase bottled water constantly.

It is possible however to avoid doing by investing in a good long-term water bottle made of glass, metal, bamboo, or similar ( collapsible ones are especially handy for traveling) and refilling them with safe water either supplied by your hotel or other business or at refill stations. There are several apps now available to find refill stations whilst on the move. I regularly use one in Bali called Refill Bali and another in Hong Kong called Hong Kong Water refill.

There is also a new app called Tap which lists over 35,000 stations in 30 countries. Once you start doing this you will wonder why no one thought of this earlier!

This cell phone tip was provided by Sandy of Tray Tables Away.

Learning the Language

If you're headed to a place where you don't speak the native tongue, a translator app can be a literal lifesaver! Hands down, the best translator app is ‘Google Translate' (available for free on ios and Android devices). The best part of this app is the ‘conversation' feature which allows you to talk into the phone and have it immediately translated into over 100 languages.

This app will then detect both languages and translate on the fly, just like a real back-and-forth conversation. Using this feature, I was able to seamlessly have a full conversation with a shop owner in Beijing, a Taxi driver in Vietnam, and a waiter in Italy. Without this app, I would have been completely lost! For a pro tip, you can download the language file for the country you are visiting in advance.

This way you can still use the app even if you aren't connected to wifi. This saved us lots of money in data overages on our last trip to Europe! Google translate is definitely one of the best phone hacks for travel, so don't forget to add it to your app list! You can download the app on the iTunes store here.

This cell phone tip was provided by Kate of Tear Free Travel.

Use It For Emergency Numbers

When traveling, it is always a good idea to have emergency contacts on hand in case of an accident or other unforeseen event. One way to do this is to store all the relevant numbers on your phone. That way, with just a few clicks, you can get the number you need, whether it is for a car accident lawyer or the police.

To start, create a new contact in your phone's address book and label it “Emergency.” Then, add the numbers for all relevant contacts, such as your hotel, the local police station, a car crash lawyer, etc. By taking a few minutes to set this up before you travel, you can rest assured that you will be able to get the help you need in an emergency.

Got any other tips for traveling with your cell phone?

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  1. great ideas. i would have never thought of the luggage pic.

  2. Thanks for this wonderful idea of travelling with taking pictures of your luggage!!

  3. Ava Pierce says:

    Great post, Andi! I so love any travel-related resources. One of the things that I’ve learned to do, especially for business travel, is to keep a backup copy of my important files on a flash key. And I keep it separate from my computer.

    One more…I put an index card in each piece of my luggage with my name, cell#, email address, and general itinerary. It has proven to minimize eternally lost luggage on more than one occasion.

  4. Some great suggestions here. Offline maps have certainly saved my skin a few times!