The iPhone Traveler Pt. 1 – Pre-vacation planning

iphonepasspordApple’s iPhone is the best computer I’ve ever owned. It’s powerful yet fits in my pocket. It gets fantastic battery life and, with the proper protection, can withstand the bumps and bruises of daily use. It’s always connected to the Internet and can be almost whatever you want it to be, from an email client to a GPS receiver. It’s a camera and a weather station; a jukebox and a concierge. In other words, your iPhone is the perfect travel companion.

In this series of posts, I’ll describe how I use my iPhone to manage every aspect of a vacation. It’ll break down like this:

  • Pre-vacation planning
  • Making the journey
  • Getting the most of your destination
  • Returning home
  • Preserving and sharing the memories

I’ll share the apps that I use, review related products and have a few surprises along the way. I mean the good kind of surprise, not the “your water heater has been quietly leaking into the basement since 2 AM” kind. I’ll also making a few assumptions.

First, I assume you own an iPhone and that it’s up and running to your satisfaction. [1. I’ve got a post on setting up an iPhone from scratch that I can save for the end of the month if people request it.]

[pullquote]As of this writing, there are over 500,000 apps available in Apple’s App Store. I encourage you to consider the apps I’ll describe this month (after all, I’ve listed them because I enjoy them so much), but I also suggest you conduct a search of your own. It’s possible that the “mother of all travel apps” has been released since this article was published. If you find it, install it and love it, and please let me know.[/pullquote]

There are a few other things to keep in mind as you read these articles, other than how handsome and talented I am. First, all prices are US dollars unless otherwise specified. Also, app prices, functioning and availability may have changed since the time of publication. See each app’s online description for up-to-date details. Also, the apps I suggest this month are starting points. I do not believe that any one app is the definitive solution to a given need, even those I personally swear by, because everyone’s preferences and needs are different. Also, the sheer number of iPhone apps available make it impossible to identify any one as a definitive solution.

Finally, this series will focus on traveling within the continental United States of America. Later this month, I’ll share my detailed suggestions for international travel, including dealing with overseas charges. Also, while all of the apps I describe may be purchased through the US App Store, they may not necessarily be available in versions of the store outside the US. With the large number of available apps, you are likely to find a different one that will work well for you.

Now, let’s get started.

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iPhones around the world


Here’s a great gallery of the iPhone with some of the world’s great landmarks, as well as out-of-the-way corners, cafes and beaches across the globe. In the photo above, an iPhone visits Candi Prambanan, a 9th-century Hindu temple compound in Central Java, Indonesia. You’ll find plenty more great photos like this one at iLounge.

Where have you been with your iPhone? Comments are open. I’d love to see your photos and hear your tales.

iPhone travel series starts tomorrow

And yes, I took this photo with my iPhone

When I was young, my sisters and I would climb into the back of my parents’ station wagon and leave our Pennsylvania home with a Triptik from AAA and a cooler full of soda. With Dad behind the wheel, we’d travel to rural New York, Philadelphia or Maryland. Long hours were made tolerable with games of License Plates, I Spy or — much to my parents’ chagrin — Annoy Your Siblings. Those were happy times, but most of all, I remember the thrill of discovery.

[pullquote]I can plan, execute and recall a family vacation, a weekend getaway, a business trip or a once-in-a-lifetime excursion with Apple’s pocket-sized computer. It’s replaced all of that paper and helps ensure that nothing gets lost — including the vacationers.[/pullquote]

It was exciting to see a new city with unfamiliar buildings and people, novel restaurants, and scenery. Those experiences fostered a powerful wanderlust in me that’s as active today as it’s ever been. When people ask me what I remember most clearly from my childhood vacations, my answer is always the same: the joy of finding something new.

Today, some things have changed, and for the better. The most pronounced difference is the hardware I use to get to my destination  There are no more Triptiks, hand written notes, paper tickets, huge maps or boarding passes. Now, they’ve all been replaced by my iPhone.

Tomorrow I’ll begin my new series on traveling with your iPhone with a post on getting ready. Basic iPhone prep for the travel. I’ll see you then!

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

Traveling with your iPhone


It’s a rainy Tuesday evening in Paris. My sister and I are exploring the neighborhood around our hotel. It’s our first time in France and we want an authentic Parisian dinner. We don’t have a guidebook, a map or a smartphone. We’re just walking, enjoying the twists and turns and hoping that a restaurant will present itself.

At last we find La Varanque, known colloquly known as “Philippe’s.” It looks dark inside. so I raise my hand to my forehead and press it against the window. Inside I see a bald man in his late 40’s wearing a white T-shirt and a stained apron. He notices me, points to the clock on the wall and then spreads his fingers wide. Five minutes. My sister and I wait outside.

At last, Philippe opens the door and welcomes us in broken English. We sit and he brings us a carafe of red wine. Later he returns with menus and we ask him to bring whatever is good. Soon enough we’re dining on escargot and beef bourguignon. There’s more wine.


A woman enters, dripping from the rain, carrying a large glass bowl that she bought from a flea market near the restaurant (my sister and I had walked past it during our restaurant hunt). We excahnge a quick “Bonjour!” with her and she begins talking to Philippe. As she does, the bowl slips from her hands and smashes on the floor. I help her pick up the pieces until Philippe returns with a broom and a dustpan. The grateful woman thanks us, pulls up a chair and spends the next fifteen minutes or so discussing her life in Paris and our lives in America. She struggles with English and we struggle with French, but that didn’t matter. We were all laughing together, smiling, eating, connecting. Four human beings who had never met before and, likely, will never see each other again. Enjoying each other’s company. Enjoying being human, alive in the same, temporary moment. It was one of the greatest nights of my life.


That’s why we travel.

There is nothing like experiencing a culture that’s completley foreign. Like connecting with people who do not live as you do, through their music, their food, their clothing, songs, holidays and flea market purchases, both broken and intact. I love travel, because it’s the most life-affirming thing I know how to do.


Starting this Wednesday, 52 Tiger will be doing a month-long series on traveling with your iPhone. I cover everything, including:

  1. Pre-trip planning
  2. Traveling to your destination
  3. Enjoying your visit
  4. Managing the return trip
  5. Preserving your memories

It’s going to be great  and I’m excited about it. I’ve managed everything from a week in Paris to a Sunday drive with my iPhone. You can, too.

So pack your bag, grab your iPhone and get out there. The world is waiting.

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