Make Travel Easy: Use Your BlackBerry Smartphone to Organize Your Trip
We also show you how to use your smartphone when you’re overseas!
Travel—even vacation travel—can be stressful. Long lines at airport security, reduced airline schedules, and ever-increasing traffic on the highway can make you feel like you need a vacation from your vacation, but with the right apps installed on your BlackBerry® smartphone, you can stay on top of changing travel plans. Getting to your destination, though, is just half the battle, so we’ll also show you some apps that will make you feel like a local once you arrive. And if you travel overseas we’ll explain how to use your BlackBerry smartphone on your trip—and save some money in the process.
Planning Your Trip
An itinerary from the airline. Confirmation numbers from the rental car agency and the hotel. A sheaf of maps showing the route from the airport to your hotel and from your hotel to your meeting. Meetings scheduled in your Microsoft® Outlook®, Entourage, or IBM® Lotus® Notes calendar. All this information comes from different sources, and keeping it straight when you’re traveling can be a logistical nightmare. WorldMate Live, though, compiles all this data into one app, reducing the amount of paper you have to carry and the number of apps you need to switch between in order to stay on track.
WorldMate not only organizes your travel data but also notifies you when things change—and gives you information that will help you make alternate plans. For example, if your flight has been cancelled, WorldMate will send this notification to your smartphone and also give you information about alternate flights. Armed with this data, you can suggest options to the customer service rep that other people won’t necessarily have, or that the rep may not initially offer to you.
Additionally, WorldMate offers a variety of services once you’ve reached your destination, including a currency converter and weather information. To read more about WorldMate, or to download the app, go to BlackBerry App World™.
Live Like a Local
We all know that the gas station near the airport is the most expensive one in town—but if you’re not local, you may not know where to get the best deal when you fill up the tank. WHERE™ (available on BlackBerry App World) gives you this knowledge—and much more—right on your BlackBerry smartphone. The WHERE app determines your location via either GPS or cell towers and then provides location-based content. In addition to plotting gas stations on a map (with price information), WHERE can provide dining options (linked to Yelp reviews), and event information, including concerts, festivals, and museum exhibitions.
Poynt (also available on BlackBerry App World) provides similar location-based information, including search using Yellow Pages results. Additional features include click to call and driving directions. With Poynt you can also search for movies in your area and buy tickets via your smartphone.
While both WHERE and Poynt can help you reach your destination, a dedicated GPS app, such as TeleNav or MapQuest, is your best option for mapping routes to your destinations and finding alternate paths based on traffic conditions. These apps can offer turn-by-turn directions as well as dynamic online content, including traffic and weather.
For North American readers, if you want to use your BlackBerry smartphone overseas, you first need to determine what networks your smartphone can operate on. Mobile phones operate on one of two primary networks, GSM or CDMA. However, if you are on a network that uses CDMA, you still have options—a number of BlackBerry smartphones can operate on both the GSM and CDMA networks, allowing you to take advantage of both when you travel. Check your wireless provider’s website to see if your smartphone will work in the countries you are traveling to, and their roaming plans.
In order to take advantage of your BlackBerry smartphone when you are overseas, you have to consider how you will use two different functions: voice and data.
If you are going to use your BlackBerry smartphone exclusively to make calls, you can turn data roaming off. To do this, go to Manage Connections, select Mobile Network Options, and then select Off next to the Data Services field. Doing this will keep your phone from pulling data from your wireless network. However, this is likely to be a less-than-appealing option for many users, as most of us rely on our smartphones for email and web browsing in addition to making calls.
If you stick with your standard calling plan while you are overseas, you’ll encounter roaming fees. To avoid this, contact your carrier about purchasing an international roaming account. Most wireless providers will let you add this functionality for a limited time and can turn on the service almost immediately. Even with the plan, though, calling from certain countries can be expensive, so to avoid a surprise, check rates for the countries you’re traveling to.
Most wireless providers also have optional international data or email plans. Unlike the unlimited data plans most providers offer domestically, these plans offer a set amount of data you can download a month; going over this limit can cause you to quickly rack up a pricey data bill. Some—but not all—companies allow you to track your data usage online. If you’re unable to track your data usage, you should be aware that photos, videos, and some websites can be extremely data heavy and cause you to quickly surpass your limit.Your BlackBerry smartphone is a great tool for keeping in touch with work and family when you travel. While finding the right plan for your particular trip will take some investigation into the various options your wireless provider offers, this time spent can translate into solid savings.