4 Ways the iPhone Makes Travel Easier

I went on a business trip recently, and before I left I packed up my usual stuff in my carry-on bag: iPad, MacBook Pro, chargers, a few magazines and of course, my iPhone. I had seven hours on a plane one way and nine the other, so I figured that between all three Apple devices I could be entertained and get some work done.

As it turns out though, I could’ve saved myself a ton of room if I had just packed my iPhone by itself. That’s right, all the work and everything I needed to do to get things done was all in my pocket the entire time, I just didn’t realize it until I was on my way home. It came down to four simple things that made life easier, which I’ll explain after the jump.

Getting There and Back

I started my journey by preloading my info into two apps on my iPhone, one that I had reviewed before, and one that I was considering reviewing. First was USA Today Autopilot, which ended up being the clear winner over my other option, TripIt. Although I liked some of the unique features in TripIt such as the seating chart and all that, it was tied to a website and was just a pain to use. Autopilot, however, quickly gained a temporary home screen location so I could reference it frequently.

I had to use my passport anyway, but carrying around paper tickets sucked. On the way back, I found out about Fly Delta, which was pretty convenient for me because that was my carrier for the trip. I didn’t get to test it out as thoroughly as I would have liked (or to do a proper review), but the mobile boarding pass feature sure is cool and saved me from losing my paper tickets.

Getting Stuff Done

As an OmniFocus junkie, I had everything I needed in my pocket to keep up with my seemingly never ending to-do list. But because I was on and off during the day, I needed a way to get things accomplished while moving about town, sometimes scheduling things in advance.

For that, I started with Hootsuite for Twitter and Facebook updates as the day progressed. Then I used Google’s native iOS apps — Google Calendar and Google Docs — to coordinate my schedules and spreadsheets as I was on the move. Between using those apps and the built-in Calendar app working in harmony with my MobileMe account, I was able to get my life in order while working in chaos.

I had some writing to do, and admittedly, this would be a toughie to do on the iPhone by itself. But had I paired it up with a wireless keyboard (which I considered) I could have used Pages to hammer out those first drafts. This is obviously not an ideal situation for writing a long document, but when I had edits to do, it would be quick and easy to use.

Entertainment

This is the obvious one in the bunch, but it bears repeating. I had lots of flying time to log, and although I always think I’m going to be able to work on the plane, it’s never quite that easy what with tray tables being so short and my laptop always in risk of getting crushed by the guy in front of me who decides to recline. Instead, I plugged in my headphones to my iPhone and drifted away to sleep listening to a new album I bought before I left.

On the way back, I had even less room to spare, and holding my iPad for a long period of time would’ve been tiring — propping it up on a tray table just wasn’t an option on this bumpy flight. Instead, I popped out the iPhone and watched a movie or two. It killed a few hours easy, and since it took up so little space I wasn’t rubbing elbows with the guy with the terrible B.O. sitting next to me.

The Other Stuff

What else did it help with? I was in a city where I had to walk a lot, but of course, I had no idea where I was going. For that, I used a combination of the built-in Google Maps app, and TomTom U.S. & Canada. For communication, I used FaceTime, but you probably already knew that. As some people kindly pointed out, I could’ve used Google Voice or Skype to talk across borders as well, something I didn’t consider until I came home.

Since I was in an area that spoke French, Google Translate and Word Lens both came in super handy, particularly when I couldn’t find a sign in English. Finally, there are a myriad of apps specific to certain cities that include travel guides, metro rail maps and everything in between. My trip took me to Montreal, and there are too many options to list for that town.

Summation

Yes, life is made easier when you have everything from home with you on the road, but sometimes that just isn’t possible. This trip though, I could’ve packed lighter for sure if I had just thought about it before I hit the door to leave. Next time I go out on a plane, I think I’ll pack light and just bring my iPhone and a pair of headphones. Well, maybe a keyboard too — if I’ve got room.