Here are some tech tools to manage your trip itinerary, use your smartphone abroad, find flights and hotels, and track your luggage.
The relaxation you crave from summer vacation can quickly deteriorate into anxiety when things go awry, especially when traveling to an unfamiliar place.
Fret not, summer traveler. Here are some tech tools to help simplify your trip, based on my tests and some picks from The Wirecutter, the product-recommendations site owned by The New York Times.
When you’re rushing to catch a flight, digging around for your itinerary or boarding pass is a major time waster.
Paper printouts are easy to lose, and emailed itineraries can easily be swallowed by your inbox.
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What’s the best solution? In my tests, the free mobile apps TripIt and Google Trips were both great trip organizers. They scan your inbox for itineraries, hotel bookings and car-rental reservations, then stitch all that information into a neat itinerary.
Between the two apps, I preferred TripIt because it was less cluttered and showed my trip information in a timeline that is easy to read; Google’s app is crammed with extra features like coupons and recommendations for things to do.
A major caveat for both apps: They regularly scan your inbox to find travel-related emails. So if you are paranoid about privacy, create a separate email account just for travel documents and forward all your itineraries and booking confirmations to that address.
When traveling overseas, the idea of a digital detox sounds romantic, but a smartphone is handy for retrieving maps or finding places to eat nearby. There are several options for taking your mobile phone abroad.
The cheapest way is to unlock the phone and use a foreign SIM card. The downside is that this can require more research because rates for international carriers vary widely, and if you travel to multiple countries, you may have to juggle several SIM cards.
Less confusing options include T-Mobile’s free international roaming, included with that carrier’s cellular plans, or signing up for Project Fi, Google’s wireless plan that costs at least $30 a month to use in more than 135 countries. The caveat for T-Mobile is that the free international data service may be slow, and the downside of Project Fi is that it works only with a small set of Android phones like the Google Pixel.
For Verizon and AT&T users, a simple but…