8 Tips for Being a Tech-Savvy Traveler in South America

While many travellers feel burdened by the influence of technology during their travels, I do not. Although the skill of maneuvering through a city with no help from technology nor any knowledge of the local language is pretty thrilling, we are actually being quite inefficient with our use of time. I have listed some apps and technologies that will help you get the most out of your travels through South America without sacrificing the joys of adventure. Since you will not likely be paying international data charges during your travels, these tips utilize offline and Wi-Fi capabilities. These technologies should actually help you find more adventure!

1. Never get lost! Download Google Maps for Offline Viewing.

I know that most of you have Google Maps pre-added to your phones but what you may not know is that you can save maps for offline viewing. This saves an incredible amount of headaches and eliminates the clutter of paper maps. This becomes incredibly handy when you are out in the city looking for that next museum or bar. If your GPS is on, this app can pinpoint exactly where you are on the map in any given city.

When you are taking that long over-night bus ride from Nazca to Arequipa, for example, you can just click that small blue pin-point button and you will know about how close you are to the city. This helps prevent you from being worried about whether the coming stop is yours or not.

map
Plan your journey offline!

2. Did you know? You can get the internet offline!

Download the Wikipedia offline packet. This gives you a pseudo-internet sensation. When you are looking at a menu and want to know what a “llapingacho” is or if you would like to know more about the “Plaza Mayor” in Lima, just look it up! This can help provide you with more knowledge about the places you are visiting. We do not always need a guide; sometimes a simple Wikipedia article is sufficient.

Koh Phangan laptop
Browse the internet from anywhere!

3. Have your journal connected to the cloud

There will be many long bus rides during your trip through South America and Evernote app allows you to write freely during these long trips (as I am now). This incredibly easy-to-use app is a perfect option for your travel journal or writing your blog. This app allows you to easily add photos within your text which helps make your journal livelier. Your documents are all saved into the cloud so your documents are safe even if you loose your device.

Journal
Gone are the old fashioned days of writing with paper and pen!

4. Use Google Translate offline

Download the offline language pack! This app is perfect if you are trying to learn the local language or if you want to use it to get around learning the language! I am learning Spanish at the moment and each time I see a new word in the street, I type it in and learn it. This is much better than other offline language dictionaries because it can translate phrases and not just words.

5. Never lose your photos

It is crucial to have an easy way to upload your photos. Dropbox will automatically upload all of your photos to the cloud when you are connected to the internet. There is nothing worse than loosing months of photos because you left your phone in a taxi in Quito, Ecuador (this happened to me)! An upgraded Dropbox account is not very cheap so you may also want to look into options such as Google Drive or Photobucket.

You just don't want to lose those photo memories!
You just don’t want to lose those photo memories!

6. Have a physical storage device

Download movies, audio books, books, language learning devices and more onto your physical storage device. Long bus rides can be very wasteful if you have nothing to entertain yourself with. Since I am traveling for nine months, I have added a weightless 64 GB microSD card to my phone. You can also use flash drives, external hard drives, or SD cards. Use what works for you.

7. Have a free texting app

WhatsApp gives you the ability to text while traveling without having a phone plan. It is great for continuing that conversation with that cute local girl or boy that you met last night, or for keeping up with friends from back home. Viber and KakaoTalk are also popular free texting apps.

Technology phone
Don’t forget to text your Mum!

Photo: Dave Dean of technology travel tips website – Too Many Adapters.

8. Make cheap phone calls

Of course you can use Skype to video chat with anyone in the world for free, however there is another feature that I value more. The international phone service allows you to call anywhere in the world very cheaply (between .9 and 1.7 cents/min). When you need to call your airline to confirm your flight, or if you need to call your hostel for directions, this is ideal. You can call home and easily talk to your friends and family as well. This is a more practical option than paying for different phone cards in each country you visit. The downside is that you do have to be online to use the service.

This article was written by Kevin James.

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