May 14, 2022

BoomerTECH Adventures: Traveler’s Digital Device Checklist

We are on the move again after months of COVID fears. For some, it’s been more than two years since they’ve flown or booked a hotel room. It’s probably a prudent idea to go over all the things we need to think about before we go.

AARP recently suggested that travelers include the following items in their package: a COVID vaccination card, recent COVID test results, a list of all vaccines, medications, and allergies, and insurance cards.

With COVID still causing issues, it makes sense to check before you go what restrictions might apply at your destination. If you’re heading to the Big Apple and Broadway plays, what are the theaters’ attendance requirements? Amusement parks, stadiums and concert halls may still have restrictions in place, and we know that restrictions can change very quickly if there is an increase in a variant in a venue. It is best to have your documentation with you and not to go home in the desk drawer.

You may be thinking, “I’m not traveling overseas and I won’t have to show proof of yellow fever vaccination.” Why worry about a list of daily vaccinations? But think about it: do you know when your last tetanus shot was? The proverbial rusty nail could be hiding anywhere, and when you’re in the ER to get it off the bottom of your foot, it would be reassuring to know if you need a tetanus booster.

A great tip from AARP and BoomerTECH Adventures is to take photos of all of these documents with your phone, providing a backup copy of these vital documents. While taking these photos, also include photos of your license and passport. As long as you keep your phone handy, you can always prove who you are in case you lose your wallet.

Here are additional suggestions from BoomerTECH Adventures as you prepare for your post-COVID adventures:

Bank cards and credit cards: Keep track on your phone of the numbers you need to call if your bank card or credit cards are lost.

Charge your digital devices while traveling:

1. Check again if you have packed your different charging cords: phone, tablet, watch, etc. They can all be different.

2. Research the power plug adapters you will need (varies by country) if you are traveling overseas. Buy or borrow what you need.

3. Buy or borrow a backup power supply that will charge your devices. Delays at airports and long flights can drain your battery charge, and sometimes there aren’t any outlets nearby. You don’t want your phone to be unusable when traveling because your battery is drained. Solar battery chargers exist and are very practical for campers and backpackers. Here is a video that shows you three different types of backup chargers: https://tinyurl.com/yvw7uaae.

4. You might consider buying a universal power strip device. Many come with USB ports. These handy travel accessories allow you to plug all your devices into one outlet rather than scouring your hotel room for unused electrical outlets. Here is an example: tinyurl.com/26pazbmx. Again, it must be compatible with the electrical outlets of the countries you are traveling to.

Mobile phone tips while traveling:

1. If you are traveling abroad, ask your provider about the use of your data plan in foreign countries. It’s very easy to run up an astronomical bill if you’re not careful. Some savvy travelers buy a SIM card once they arrive at their destination so they don’t rack up extra charges. It is worth researching this option before you go on a trip. Just a note, on a trip to Italy a few years ago we used the Maps app to get around. As a result, we burned through the special travel plan for cellular data and quickly racked up a huge bill – Maps runs on cellular data. Be sure to consider all uses of your phone when deciding how to proceed when traveling abroad.

2. Three things you need to know about your phone before you go: (1) your password, (2) how to connect to a new Wi-Fi network, and (3) how to turn off cellular roaming if you don’t. you don’t need it. If you are unsure of these things, practice before you go. Your password protects access to your private information (e-mails, social networks, etc.) in the event of loss or theft of your phone. Second, when you travel you will no doubt want to connect to Wi-Fi networks for various purposes, and using Wi-Fi can save your battery when looking for a restaurant or checking your emails. Finally, if you don’t make calls on your phone, you don’t need cellular roaming. This feature causes your phone to constantly scan for cell towers using battery power and possibly even costing you money.

3. Some countries have less secure networks than others. Therefore, activities such as banking and using credit cards should be avoided.

4. If possible, download the “Find My” app to another digital device. If you lose your phone, you can locate it with this app. You can also use the web. Google Find My Device will help you locate an Android device, and icloud.com/find will locate your iPhone. You can erase all data remotely if you think the phone is gone forever.

Communication with friends and family: Chances are you want to keep in touch with people back home. They will definitely feel more comfortable knowing where you are. Let’s review some methods that allow us to stay connected.

1. Email is always reliable and you can attach images and documents. Remember to use WiFi connection to save your battery and cellular data.

2. Texting is useful because you can send images and short videos. Again, you want to use the WiFi connection when possible.

3. FaceTime, Zoom, and Google Meet are all accessible via WiFi and are great for face-to-face communication. While on safari a few years ago, my friend was able to talk to her family via FaceTime from the African bush. Outside, elephants sniffed around the local watering hole and inside face to face with Topsham, Maine.

4. WhatsApp is a favorite texting app because it relies on WiFi and works anywhere in the world.

Digital cameras:

1. Bring extra batteries so you can quickly switch to a new one if needed.

2. If you take a lot of photos, bring a few extra memory cards.

3. If you use your phone as a camera, check how much storage space you have before you go. You may need to upload your photos to a cloud site like Dropbox or Google Photos so that when you’re in the middle of an exciting adventure, you don’t get the dreaded message that you’re out of storage. Your camera app will stop working. Plan ahead and take appropriate action before you go.

Consider useful apps to make your journey smoother: There are a variety of apps that display useful information while on the go. Here are three you might like.

1. Around Me: This app helps you locate everything from restaurants to gas stations to ATMs.

2. Rome2Rio: Find out how to get from point A to point B by plane, train, boat, bus, carpool or car.

3. Google Translate: This app will translate the written or spoken word. It will even translate the words your camera app is focused on. You can give a taxi driver or Uber directions in English and have them translated into Latvian so you can get to your destination effortlessly.

4. Don’t forget your Maps or Google Maps app! You will find routes by car, on foot, by bicycle and by public transport.

Have a good trip ! Remember that your mobile phone and other digital devices are indispensable travel aids that will help make your trip more memorable. And, there’s still time to join us in Kennebunkport on our Explorama and Asian fusion photography retreat. Learn more at tinyurl.com/btaexplorama.

BoomerTECH Adventures (boomertechadventures.com) provides expert advice and resources to help baby boomers and seniors build skills and confidence using their Apple devices. Boomers themselves, BoomerTECH Adventures leverages their skills as educators to create experiences that meet individual needs through timely videos, Zoom presentations, tech tips and blog posts.