Vacations: Don't leave your phone behind

(NC) -- While many travellers like to disconnect while on vacation, smartphones have become an essential tool for travelling. In fact, many features and apps offered by smartphones can be indispensable when you're on the road.

Maps: Tourists sometimes find foreign maps to be confusing, especially when the labels are written in another language. Mobile apps with mapping capabilities are excellent for locating your current position, routing your course and even charting the amount of time it will take to get to your desired destination by car or by foot.

Camera: Nowadays, smartphone cameras produce excellent image quality, and the small size and weight of your phone make it the perfect choice for travelling light. Some mobile cameras, like the new BlackBerry 10 smartphones, are built with special features like Time Shift to help you capture the perfect shot. This handy tool allows you to move parts of the picture backwards or forwards in time to open your subject's eyes or capture a missed smile. BlackBerry 10 devices also offer Story Maker, a feature that lets you create your own movies in a matter of seconds.

Mobile apps: Useful travel apps that you can download beforehand can replace your physical travel book. These include weather apps to ensure you dress appropriately for the day's activities, dictionaries to help with translations, apps for museums and sites to guide you through attractions, and local guides that can provide subway maps, assist in renting cars and suggest restaurants nearby.

Staying in touch: Travelling with your smartphone also allows you to stay in contact with friends and family at home home without running up your bill. Use an application like BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) to send instant messages, videos and photos of your whereabouts, even if the recipients use other mobile platforms. You can even use BBM to make video calls over Wi-Fi, which will save you a bundle.

Data roaming: Be sure to ask about the data roaming rates for your travel destination so you can monitor your usage and avoid surprises when you receive your bill. If you prefer to not use data, remember to disable the mobile network and data services on your phone.

A smartphone now functions like a mini portable computer and it can do virtually anything you need it to do. Bringing it along on your vacation can help ensure a smoother and safer experience, and should you want to unplug and relax, simply switch it off!


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