Tech To Improve your International Travel Experience
Bethany: Good morning to you.
Ryan: Good morning.
Bethany: So, we’re gonna start with something called SeatGuru.
Ryan: Yes. So, if you guys don’t already know this, someone just recently had an anniversary. And let’s say they just happened to take an anniversary trip to Italy.
Bethany: Oh, Italy? All right.
Ryan: So, that’s what we’re gonna work with here, is an international trip to Italy. Now, I’m not saying that your husband told me to do this or no.
Ryan: SeatGuru is pretty great. The cool part about SeatGuru is you put in the flight that you’re gonna take and it tells you, pretty much gives you the layout of the plane, so you can kind of see where you’re going to be seating or if you’re choosing your seat. And the best part is it tells you all the little in-flight amenities, tells you where those AC adapter jacks are and things like that.
Ryan: But my favorite part is this right here. These are people that have flown on the plane and written little reviews about the plane. So you can say, for example, that seat right there, somebody could say, “Well, everybody bumps it every time they walk by me,” or, “This seat right here happens to have poor air conditioning or poor lighting, so don’t sit there.” So, you can kind of choose your seat a little bit better. How cool is that?
Bethany: Oh, very custom. I like that.
Ryan: Yeah. Now, let’s say you’re traveling internationally and you need to get on the internet. Well, it’s kind of a pain, especially if you don’t have an international carrier, right?
Bethany: Oh, they’ll cost you, they’ll cost you.
Ryan: Yeah, cost you a ton of money. So, this is called skyroam.com. For eight bucks a day you can get a little wifi device that you can hook your phone to, your laptop, your iPad, whatever to.
Bethany: Just take it with you.
Ryan: Yeah, and take it with you. And it’s international, so you can use it anywhere you want, and for eight bucks a day. Internet.
Bethany: And you know, some of the hotels charge you upwards of $25 a day. It gets very pricey. So, I like that one a lot.
Ryan: And if you want to text back and forth with your friends, and send them pictures as you’re cruising around, just get WhatsApp, connect that with Skyroam, and boom, you’ll be able to text, no problem. Otherwise, your carrier may charge you all kinds of money for those SMS text messages to go internationally. And it doesn’t really cost more, they just gouge you. So, this is a way to get around that.
Bethany: I love it. Ryan is saving us some money.
Ryan: So, here’s another cool part, is I didn’t know about this, but apparently there are these little lounges in international airports where you can hang out, take a nap, take a shower, They have video games, snacks, all kinds of cool stuff. And they charge you anywhere from about $25 to $48 for you to just hang out there, and how cool is that if you have a huge layover and you’re going from one place to another?
Bethany: This one is $88. I wanna know what you get there.
Ryan: Foot massage! No, I don’t know.
Bethany: I should hope so. You have people do all your laundry and you get a total massage. Perfect.
Ryan: So, this is called Mobile Passport and you said you’ve used this before…
Bethany: Yeah, I love it.
Ryan: …and this is really cool. When you’re coming back to the States, going through customs is kind of a pain in the butt. So, this allows you to kind of fill out your custom forms and everything, so you can just go to a quick little line and kind of be VIP when you’re going through customs.
Bethany: Just downloading that app and filling out our information, it saved my husband and I a lot of trouble coming back from Mexico.
Ryan: Yeah. Just a little pre-prep and you’re ready to go. But let’s say you don’t pre-prep. Let’s say you get stranded somewhere because you got overbooked and they yanked you off the flight in a big huff, so you go to Hotel Tonight. This is great because they have hotel rooms on the cheap. Look at this. Some of these places you can stay for just a few bucks. The thing about hotels is they usually try to sell out as much as they can. They don’t always sell every room every night, and so this is a service that all the hotels kind of dump their stuff on there and sell them for cheap.
Bethany: I love it, Ryan. Great information.
Ryan: You’re welcome.
Bethany: Love it, love it.
Ryan: Good luck in Italy. I hope you have fun.
Bethany: Yeah. See, Ryan’s apparently in the know. I’m going to Italy and I didn’t even know about it.
Ryan: Well, just go home and say, “Yeah, Ryan told me,” and he’ll be like, “Ah.” He’ll have to put it together real quick. It’ll be cool. He’ll call me.
Bethany: He’ll call you, he’ll call you. All right, Marianne, back to you. All right, thanks.
Marianne: All right. Thanks, you guys. Well, two incredible pieces of…
Ready to see the world?
Before you set off on your journey, you should familiarize yourself with some truly great apps that’ll make your international travel experience a breeze.
Pick Your Seats Wisely
Your travel memories start from your flight.
A 10-hour hop across the Atlantic with uncomfortable seats will dampen your mood before you even land in your destination.
To avoid these situations, plug in your potential flight number into SeatGuru.
The results feature a plane-wide seat map.
You can click on each seat to see:
- Availability of onboard amenities such as media screens or Internet at each seat.
- Tips left by previous flyers that identify troublesome seats. For example, you might see reviews such a “flyers tend to bump into this seat” or “close proximity to lavatory may be bothersome.”
Plan Ahead To Stay Connected
Internet has become a necessity rather than luxury.
To stay connected while abroad, follow these steps.
- Rent yourself a global WiFi hotspot from Skyroam. You can enjoy unlimited browsing (no data limits) for just $8/day.
- Use internet-based messaging apps
Use WhatsApp to avoid hefty overseas SMS charges.
Ask your family/friends to install the app and start sharing photos, audio, and even videos in no time at no extra cost.
Get Some R&R on your layover
If you have a considerable layover in between flights, trying to relax on standard airport seats and waiting areas is a nightmare.
Instead, head over to a lounge to relax.
Use the LoungeBuddy (available on Android & iOS) app to find lounges at your airport and their rates.
Feel at home: take a shower or grab some drinks and snacks.
Some lounges even offer rentable private rooms for sleeping for as little as $25-45.
Breeze Through Customs, For Free
After a long flight, sometimes all you want to do is get home to your bed.
Just when you think you’ve cleared the last hurdle, the final turn takes you into customs.
Everyone knows how nerve-wracking and lengthy going through customs is. Well, now you can breeze through this step and dash towards the exit.
Just download the Mobile Passport App.
It works at 24 airports at the moment, including Sacramento (SMF).
Add in all the relevant information on the app and e-submit your declaration using the airport’s WiFi service.
When you get to customs, you’ll be able to skip the line and head straight to the designated Mobile Passport Control line.
The customs officer will scan the QR code and that’s all there is to it.
Miss Your Connection? Find A Last-Minute Hotel Deal
If delays caused you to miss your connecting flight, open up Hotel Tonight to find a great last minute deal for hotel rooms in your area on the spot.
Just make sure you install the app before you start your trip.
This way if you need to use it, you won’t have to stress about downloading and installing it when you’re already frustrated.
Traveling internationally is an enriching experience.
Don’t let a few minor hiccups ruin your travel memories. With the wealth of tech tools available today, traveling is easier (and more comfortable) than ever before.
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About The Author: Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.