I actually haven’t ranked my travel tips, but I love this one because it’s super simple and saves me from getting lost all around the world.

But it’s not my #1 travel tip, which would probably be “use miles” or “travel more” or “travel solo” or something like that.

It may not even be my #2 travel tip because you can save a lot of money with these two:

Anyway, here’s how I avoid getting lost worldwide when I don’t have cell phone data. I used this trick in Slovenia last month because T-Mobile doesn’t offer free data there, and I’ve used it to navigate the dusty streets and alleys of Kampala, Uganda without issue.

The basic idea is that there are two components to the Maps app on your phone. There’s the blinking blue dot which represents you. The blue dot relies on GPS, not cell phone data.

There are also the maps themselves on which the blue dot moves. Those maps are sent to your phone with cellular data, but they stay in your phone’s memory for some time after they’ve been downloaded. (I might be using some wrong technical terms in this post because I know very little about technology.)

Screenshot_2014-04-10-17-25-46
Blue Dot (GPS) + Map (Data)

So the trick is to download all the maps you’ll need when you’re on wifi and then you’ll have them when you need them and you don’t have a data connection.

What I do is open my Maps app when I’m on my hotel’s wifi. A blue dot pops up on a map. I then move the map around by swiping left and right to increase the area of the map that has been downloaded. Then I might do some zooming in and out because those different zoom levels are also new maps to be downloaded. In just a few seconds I’ve gotten my phone to download maps for my area at several zoom levels.

Then I leave my hotel and wifi. The maps are still on my phone in the Maps app even though my phone no longer has data access. The blue dot still works because it uses GPS not data.

Voila!

I can walk around the city without getting lost because I have all the maps and the blue dot without using any data. I can even zoom in and out if I need to read street names or get more perspective.

Unfortunately you cannot query the phone for directions to a certain place without data because it takes data to formulate the route. But if you can read a map, you can get anywhere you want without getting lost.

Do you know any better tricks to get around without cell phone data? What other tricks do you know to make travel easier?



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