HO-Kay! I’m not really a gadget and gizmo guy when I travel. Like what we always say, we travel bringing only necessary things and try to pack as light as we could. We bring light fabric clothes or buy cheap shirts when we get to our destination and leave it behind on our departure. The DSLR is bulky enough so there’s really no room for a laptop or some star trek-ish mobile phone with portable skate board-sort of thing.
For so many years, I have been using a jurassic era phone, no camera, no MMS, no bluetooth and in most cases, no load credits. I was very clumsy, I drop and accidentally smash my phone at 22 hour interval. And monette is currently holding the record, she lost (misplaced, or possibly swallowed) three company-issued Blackberry in a span of 13 days. So getting an inexpensive hand phone is the best option for us.
Recently, since it is free, I got myself an iPhone 4. I know I’m contradicting myself three years ago when iPhone first came out and sworn to Elvis’ grave not to buy this alien sex toy no matter what. I even called it a “Paris Hilton” (Pretty but Dumb).
Rule number ONE in the Book of Geeks: Don’t buy any 1st generation prototype! Wait for the second generation. Remember Apple Pippin, OpenDoc, Mac TV, Mac XL/Lisa, Microsoft Word 6.0, Copland, eWorld, Puck Mouse/Kiddie Keyboard, Flower Power/Blue Dalmatian iMac and Macintosh Portable? … Ring a bell? OPKORS it doesn’t! These are all 1st generation epic failures, where are they now? SWIMMING IN THE MIDDLE OF INEXORABLE OBLIVION!
In response to emails, I am posting my five favorite free travel friendly applications for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users.
AccuWeather – this could be the most accurate weather forecasting system that I have ever encounter. PAGASA will look like a piece of rat crap in terms of the forecasting precision using live radar images from weather satellites. The video is also a cool feature as it links to an online regional weather forecast links. A badge is showing up whenever there are risks, alarms or alerts like typhoon, heavy rain and severe thunderstorms.
Stick It – Monette and I usually forget things when we are out on a trip and buying pasalubong is something that we usually cram about on the last day of our escapade. This application is virtually a post-it board where you can stick-up reminders and lists of things to do and buy.
Free Translator (with Voice) – I tried using this application to some of my patients who do not speak english. It has 53 different languages in it, but the only thing I am not happy about is the Japanese and Chinese translations. Since I don’t know how to read and write Japanese and Chinese characters, I have to play the voice feature and try to imitate the robotically pronounced word translations.
XE.com – Our biggest worry on the road is the money and how much we are spending. Backpacking is trying to spend the least possible amount of money and the usual Filipino Travelers’ mistake is to disproportionate spending because we tend to relate currency with value. Again US$5 is not PhP5. This application gets realtime feed of exchange rate updates and this will spare Monette of math panic and nose bleeding.
Google Map – This GPS feature tracks your current location and show it in the map. You can even type in specific to-and-from locations and the application will drop pins on the screen and give you the step by step no brainer directions.
We are not endorsing iPhone and these applications will make a trip insultingly easy, but to some travelers and newbies this would probably help. We are still advocates of the old school backpacking. Talk to locals, navigate your way around with gut feelings, sense of adventure and let the real-time situation guide your experience of “being” there.
But if this mobile phone is available, without batting an eyelash I would buy and bring it with me on my trips.