Your iPhone can help avoid tourist scams


Wendy Perrin explains how she fell victim to a group tour scam while visiting Grenada, and offers advice to help others avoid the same. Wendy, her husband and another couple took a taxi-and-tour of Grenada’s beautiful landscape, at the cost of $160. Each couple paid $80 and enjoyed the tour. At the end, when they were being dropped off at their separate departure points, the driver insisted on another $80. After a bit of back-and-forth, Wendy realized she was in an impossible he said/she said scenario, and paid the man his $80.

Wendy offers advice on avoiding this situation yourself, like insisting on a receipt at the moment of payment. If that’s impossible, she says, pull out your iPhone:

“If the driver can’t or won’t provide a receipt, film the transaction with your iPhone or videocamera. Before this incident, I would have considered it rude, but now I wish I had done so.”

Good advice.

Photo Credit: Ruth L via Compfight cc

iPhone app keeps sleepy road trippers awake

A few years ago I spent 12 hours driving from Pennsylvania to Virginia with a few friends. It was a horribly long trip and none of us would have stayed awake on our own. Drowsy driving is dangerous and Café Amazon Drive Awake app (free) is here to help.

This clever little app uses eye detection to monitor your state while driving. To use it, let it find your eyes (creepy), mount it on the windshield of your car (mounting apparatus not included) and begin driving. If the app catches you nodding off (eyes closed for more than a few seconds), it emits a horrific screeching parrot noise that will absolutely wake you up and and maybe cause you to soil yourself.

Drive Awake is a little gimmicky in that, after rousing you, it pops up driving directions to the nearest Café Amazon, a popular coffee shop in Thailand. I don’t know what happens if you’re outside Thailand.

Even without the caffeinated pick-me-up, and despite the nerve-shredding parrot, Drive Awake could save your life. And please, people. I know road trips are fun, but being dead isn’t. Pull over and go to sleep.

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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Taking great travel photos with your iPhone


The iPhone is not a replacement for a DSLR but for most of us, it’s the camera we have almost all the time. It’s light, convenient and capable of taking great travel photos. Travis Marshall at has listed several great tips for getting great travel photos with an iPhone.

He spoke with Kirsten Alana, a professional travel blogger and photographer whose work has appeared on Gadling among other places. Her best advice: look for good light and get close:

“The most obvious differences between iPhone and DSLR cameras are the lack of capability in low light, the lack of actual (not digital) zoom, and the file size difference.”

Alana suggests iPhoneographers look for good lighting and “zoom with their feet” but getting nice and close to their subjects.

Lisa Bettany, pro photographer, author and co-founder of the Camera+ iPhone app, suggests changing your perspective and looking for an interesting composition:

“I also find that getting low to the ground and pointing the camera upward, or taking pictures through fences or leaves helps me get interesting photos.”

If you have one you’d like to share, let me know at [comments at 52tiger dot net]. I’d love to feature it.

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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Thanks to Gas Cubby from App Cubby

gcBig thanks to Gas Cubby for being this week’s sponsor. This handy app 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.

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: International iPhone use Pt. 2

This week I’m looking at international iPhone use. There are several ways to use or avoid your iPhone while traveling outside your home country. Our goal is to have fun, benefit from having a phone but avoid outrages charges.

Today, I’m talking about data roaming. Data roaming refers to using the Internet, email and other similar data connections outside your carrier’s coverage. Essentially, you’re “roaming” outside of your coverage zone.

Roaming costs can be quite very high. Even the simple act of checking email once a day can be costly. It’s a good practice to disable data roaming while traveling internationally. Fortunately, your iPhone has it switched off by default.

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!Emergency! for iPhone: when trouble strikes abroad

Johnny Jet’s travel app of the week is !Emergency! ($0.99). As Johnny notes, not everyone realizes that “911” isn’t the emergency call number in many countries outside of the US. !Emergency! lists them all, and puts them just a tap away. Not only that, it can automatically detect the country you’re in, so you don’t have to spend precious time searching when something is really wrong. That’s a pretty handy app.