iPhone Traveler Pt. 9 – Navigate with maps

mapsontheroadApple’s iPhone ships with Maps, a home-grown mapping application that you can use to find driving directions, public bus routes and walking directions for when you’re on foot.

A quick note.

The public has not been satisfied with the performance of Apple’s Maps, and in September, 2012, the company issued a public apology for the performance of its app.

Understand that the mapping application that ships with your iPhone, Maps, may not be the best solution for you. Fortunately, there are several fine alternatives in the App Store, many of which can be found by searching for the term “navigation” or “maps.”

Today, I’ll explain how to use Apple’s Maps app as well as an alternative that I trust. Let’s begin with Maps.

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iPhone Traveler Pt. 8 – Tracking a flight

Earlier this month I wrote several posts about preparing to travel with your iPhone. Now, it’s time to hit the road. Now I’m going to look at using your iPhone while you’re en route. It’s a big topic, that this post starts it off with tracking a flight.

The iPhone is your pocket-sized, always-connected, tireless travel agent. With its small size, cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity, Internet access and apps, it’s extremely handy for tracking flights. There are a tremendous number of flight tracking apps available for the iPhone. Be sure to check the App Store and search for “airline” or “flight.”

Flight apps are extremely convenient and useful. On several occasions, I’ve had my iPhone relay information faster than the airport itself. Delays, arrivals, and much else all show up on my iPhone. There’s no need to search out information, strain to hear every announcement, or speak with agent after agent. My absolute favorite flight-tracking app is Flight Update Pro ($9.99, universal), and it has been for years. Here’s how to track a flight with this fantastic little app.

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iPhone Traveler pt. 7: iPhone as clock, camera and navigator

The iPhone makes for a useful and reliable alarm clock, camera and navigation device. And you thought it was just for Twitter! Today I’ll describe apps and accessories to make your iPhone the ultimate travel alarm clock, point-and-shoot camera and in-car navigator. Unless you just enjoy folding those huge maps. Then you’re on your own.

iPhone As Alarm Clock

Your iPhone lets you create multiple repeating alarms, smart alarms that are aware of the day and more. Plus, your iPhone notices when you change time zones and adjusts itself accordingly. It’s super handy. Let’s get started.

Automatic Time Zone Detection

Before we create an alarm, let’s enable automatic time zone detection. Once turned on, your iPhone will “notice” where it is and adjust its clock accordingly. That way, you don’t have to do it manually (though, if you want to, that’s an option, too). Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap General, then Date and Time.
  3. Move the Set Automatically slider to the On position.

That’s it. Now your iPhone will adjust for time zone changes on its own.

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iPhone Traveler Pt. 6 – Apps and tips from an international airline pilot

erinflightdeckI’ll admit, I’m pretty excited about this. My sister Erin is a pilot with United Airlines. She’s been flying internationally for about 10 years, always with an iPod touch or iPad in tow. I asked her to share some apps and tips with you all, and she was happy to oblige. Here’s her post: iPhone travel apps and tips from an international airline pilot. Enjoy.


Don’t the the movie Planes, Trains & Automobiles happen to you.

A bad day of travel cannot be completely avoided, but the misery can be minimized when the traveler is prepared for the worst and has backup plans. A great tool is at our fingertips in the iPhone (or in my case, an iPod touch and an iPad mini). We have come a long way from Del (John Candy) and Neil (Steve Martin) in arguably the best Thanksgiving travel movie.

There are two app lists below. The first is a list of the apps I use while at work.

The second is a collection of apps that passengers should consider. Remember, pilots travel as working crew members and as passengers. The second list includes apps that airline pilots use when traveling as a passenger. Each can provide tips on making things flow better for you and those around you.

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iPhone Traveler: International iPhone use Pt. 1

pdflagsizedTraveling internationally with your iPhone demands careful preparation. When you leave the country, you most likely will not be using the cellular data network that’s owned by your home carrier. Since you’re off your plan, you’ll possibly have to pay for each megabyte of data that your phone sends or receives individually. This can get extremely expensive very quickly. In fact, it’s very easy to generate a bill of hundreds or even thousands of dollars in a surprisingly short period of time. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to avoid an outrageous bill.

I’ve gotten numerous requests for a post on using the iPhone internationally since I started this travel series. It’s a big topic that deserves special attention. So, I’m going to dedicate this entire week to using the iPhone internationally. I’ll share my own research, interviews with others who travel quite a bit and more. After a week, we’ll have a very nice resource on international iPhone use.

To get us started, here are a few paragraphs from my TUAW colleague and newspaper designer for The Patriot-News in near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Megan Lavey-Heaton. Megan shared some of her experiences and practices. Enjoy, and keep watching the site for hands-on information.

“I’ve taken my iPhone out of the country to Canada and the United Kingdom. Traveling to Canada is just like being in the U.S. – so much so that you really have to make sure you turn off your data at the border. There were some places of Ontario very close to the U.S. border that I was able to pick up an AT&T signal, but to make absolutely sure, I didn’t use my phone much until I was back on the U.S. side. If you are driving into Canada, make sure that you’ve downloaded any navigation maps needed before the service switches to international.

The United Kingdom was a different story. With the iPhone 4, it kept bouncing from service to service (usually O2 or Orange) and was spending a lot of time searching for the closest provider when I turned Airplane Mode off. That’s OK, because you want to stay away from using the local networks whenever possible. The moment I leave the country, the phone goes into Airplane Mode and for the most part stays there until I get back to the U.S.

The absolute biggest potential hit to your wallet will come from your data plan. When I was lost in Toronto a few years ago, I turned on data long enough to find where I needed to go from Maps, then turned the data back off. That 30 seconds of search and download added $18 to my bill. Stick to Wi-Fi, but it’s harder to find it for free than in the U.S. if you don’t live there. For free Wi-Fi in the UK, the best places to get it are actually American food chains: Starbucks, McDonald’s and Burger King. In Canada, I found more free Wi-Fi spots. AT&T and Verizon have international data plans that you can add to and then remove from your plan if you want a safety net, but I’ve never used them.

The second biggest financial hit, ironically, comes from text messages. My husband texted me a few times to pin down my location in a Liverpool museum, and that added on several dollars to the following month’s bill. Set up iMessages before you go, and make sure you have it so that does not send via text message if it fails. That way, if you do need to text someone with an iPhone running iOS 5, it’ll default to Wi-Fi and not hit your text or data plans.

Traveling with an iPhone out of the country is great as long as you keep a vigilant eye on the costs. Keep the phone in Airplane Mode whenever possible, make sure everything you need is pre-loaded. Skip the iOS and app updates until you get home, because you don’t want to risk accidentally doing something to your phone that can’t be fixed.”

Comments are open, so feel free to share your international travel experiences.

This article is part of a series on traveling with your iPhone. You’ll find the other articles here.

Gas Cubby from App Cubby

gcHuge thanks to Gas Cubby for being this week’s sponsorDavid Barnard and his crew build iOS apps that I’ve been using for years, including Gas Cubby.

Gas Cubby is a fantastic companion to anyone who often travels by car. It records milage for you, which is fantastic if you’re often taking business trips. I used to use a notebook for this, but I’d either misplace it or forget to transfer a certain trip to my spreadsheet. Not any more, as Gas Cubby lets me export directly to an Excel-friendly format via email.

The app also records your service history and even offers service reminders reminders, which is great. You know those plastic clings that the mechanic puts on your windshield? The ones that always fall off? Forget about them. I won’t forget to get that 7,500 mile checkup done when Gas Cubby reminds me.

The app’s search feature is also well-implemented and there’s ample support for international units, like MPG (Canada), MPG (UK), MPG (Imperial), L/100km, gal/100mi (US), gal/100mi (Imperial), km/L, km/gal (US), km/gal (Imperial), and mi/L, for all of you folks who drive on the wrong side of the road.

Do you like charts and graphs? I know you do. Tilt your iPhone to the landscape orientation and view data on your vehicle’s average MPG, typical gas price you pay, automotive expenses and service expenses. Nice!

Gas Cubby has been in my travel folder for years. It’s fast, good-looking and, most importantly, useful. Go and grab Gas Cubby now.

Weekend Gear: There’s a frood who really knows where his pocket square is

rhettpocketMy grandfather carried a pocket square every day. This wasn’t the handkerchief that many people his age used to have (read: he did not blow his nose into it), but an honest-to-goodness pocket square. I remember watching him use it all the time:

  • Cleaning off wet eye glasses
  • Wiping dirt off of a garden spade
  • Clearing condensation off of a foggy windshield

The great Douglas Adams saw how useful such an item was (in his case, a towel):

“A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V…More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag 1 discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc…What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.”

A pocket square won’t protect you from the harsh elements of Jaglan Beta, but I’d argue that it’s nearly as useful. I have two, one of which is on me almost all of the time.

New York to Nashville


Danielle Romero makes fantastic pocket squares that aren’t the least bit stodgy or old-man-ish, and sells them through her business, New York to Nashville She writes:

“Most of our pieces began as a vintage item or reclaimed fabric that still had a story to tell. We wanted to hear that story, and we know you do too. This means that the pocket squares, cufflinks, and earrings are LIMITED RUN often just enough for 4 sets. I handcraft each one to reflect charm and beauty of all things Americana.”

I’ve got the “Rhett Butler” (pictured above). It’s about 10″x10″ and I love it. Great for cleaning off that iPhone screen. Cotton.



Izola strives to offer “functional everyday staples” with a vintage, nostalgic aesthetic. I bought this “Peace and Prosperity” handkerchief (above) and I love it.  It’s big at 14″x14″ and made of natural cotton. It’s getting softer and better-looking with each wash.

There you have it, traveler! A bit of handy weekend travel gear that’s a bit nostalgic (miss you, granddad), great-looking and supremely useful.

  1. strag: non-hitch hiker

Rego for iPhone, a traveler’s companion

regoforiphoneBig thanks to Rego for iPhone (free for the first 10 places, $2.99 for unlimited use) for sponsoring the site this week. I’ve been using Rego since launch day and it’s earned a spot on my iPhone’s home screen. It lets me create a record of my favorite places, both those I have seen and those I hope to visit someday. With a few taps I can mark it on a map, write some notes, take photos and add useful, searchable categories.

Rego is like a contacts app, but for locations. It has become the place where I store the places I care about. But Rego is more than storage. Before your trip begins, create a new collection and add all the places you want to visit — either by positioning pins on a map, or by searching on names or addresses. Rego searches Apple and Foursquare location databases, and your Contacts. Plan your itinerary by re-centering the map on any pin. For example, set your hotel as the “Active Location” and watch all your places sort by distance to that pin.

While traveling, use Rego to visit the places you planned, and add new places you discover along the way. Rego uses the iPhone’s GPS, so you don’t need Internet coverage to capture new places. Also, in most cases, your maps will have been cached during your planning, so they’ll still be available when you’re in the middle of nowhere.

Rego is private by default, but you can selectively choose to share places. This creates a web page for your place on the Rego server, that you can show the world. Other Rego users can directly add that place to their Rego, by visiting the page. I actually like keeping it private, as I use Rego is my personal travel log and wish list.

Don’t take my word for it, Apple loved Rego so much they featured it in the New & Noteworthy list on the App Store home page in 127 countries, and gave it a big banner in the Travel section. It’s truly one of my favorite travel apps.

By the way, see “Catalano’s” in the screen shot above? That’s one of the greatest places on earth, baby.

Here’s how you can sponsor the site. It’s a great month for those with travel apps.

iPhone Traveler Pt. 5: Choosing the right iPhone case


Many people like to use the iPhone “naked,” and I can see why. It looks and feels great just as Apple designed it. That’s fine for daily out-and-about, but I always keep mine in a case while traveling. There’s a risk of it getting jostled around, handled at airport security, or dropped while you fumble with other things.

The type of case you choose depends on several factors. First, what types of conditions will your iPhone be subject to? Will others handle it? Are you likely to drain the battery?

I’ve listed several types of cases to meet all types of scenarios, from underwater to long hours of use. Some offer protection of the elements, some convenience and others will keep your iPhone’s battery going and going. Read on to find several types of iPhone cases.

Battery backups

juicepackSince I recommend that you use your iPhone extensively while traveling, I’ll start with battery backup cases. These add bulk and weight but also greatly extend your iPhone’s battery life. In my estimation, the trade-off is worth it. The best ones can be turned on and off, so you can control when you’re pulling on their reserve. Here are a few of my favorites.

Mophie Juice Pack
Cost: $99.95 (iPhone 5), $79.95 (iPhone 4, 4S)
Compatibility: iPhone 4/4S/5

I’ve been using the Mophie Juice Pack for years. It consists of two pieces that slide over your iPhone, as well as a USB charging cable. The cable is compatible with most computers’ USB port as well as the USB AC adapter that Apple sells for the iPhone.

The Juice Pack itself charges quickly when connected to a wall socket with the AC adapter. And, if you connect the Juice Pack to a wall outlet with your iPhone inside, both devices will be charged.
Four status lights on the bottom provide an indication of its remaining charge (one to four) and a switch on the lower left lets you turn it on when needed. I use the Juice Pack by turning it on once my iPhone’s battery has drained to 20%. That typically gets it back up to 80%, providing hours of additional use.

Third Rail TRIO
Cost: $89.99
Compatibility: iPhone 4/4S (iPhone 5 model is in development as of this writing)

The Third Rail system is unique in that the battery itself is removable, and snaps onto the back of the Third Rail iPhone case. The case itself is quite slim without the battery attached and less bulky than others with the battery in place. Each snap-on battery can be charged while on the case or on its own with the provided USB charging cable. What’s more, the battery can be used as a hub while it’s being charged itself, so connect one other USB-powered mobile device (like an iPod or another smartphone) and charge it up, too.

Finally, the batteries are swappable between Third Rail cases, so you can share them with a travel partner.

Fastmac iV
Cost: $79.95 − 99.99 (varies by model)
Compatibility: iPhone second generation, 3G, 3GS, 4 and 4S

The iV from Fastmac is a slide-in case with two unique features. First, it’s compatible with Apple’s iPhone dock, meaning you needn’t remove it to dock your iPhone. While docked, both the iV and iPhone are charged. It also features an LED flash which can be used as a flashlight or when taking photos (the original iPhone 3G and 3GS did not have a flash).

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