Last week I wrote about how I use my iPod Touch to stay on top of world news. Which apps I use and why I love them. I think most people have a news app or two on their iPods so this week I’ll try to highlight some of the more unusual ways I use my iPod while traveling.

Learning about a place (or culture, language, attraction) before visiting

Because the iPod Touch fits in your pocket, it’s almost always readily available. So before I head out to a tourist attraction or new country, I check to see if there are any available guides. I’m only downloading them if they’re free, but if I get desperate I wouldn’t count out buying a pocket guide. Here are some examples of how I’ve used my iPod touch and the reasons why I love it so much.

  • Hostelworld (free): Hostelworld is a great site for finding cheap accommodation. And I’ve found their customer reviews honest & reliable. This has been a lifesaver when I’ve showed up in cities without knowing where I’m staying.
  • Wi-Fi Finder (free): Not nearly as useful as you’d think. Though I did use it to figure out that Luxor Train Station had free wifi (even if I didn’t end up using it).
  • Currency (free): Obviously useful for finding current currency rates.
  • City/Country travel guides (usually expensive): Lonely Planet did a nice promotion during the volcanic ash fiasco giving away several European city guides for free. I snagged a few even if I’m not planning on immediately heading there. A quick search will almost always turn up a purchasable city guide for wherever you’re going.

To find more pertinent apps for my iPod Touch, I generally search in the app store for the city/country/tourist attraction I’m planning to visit and see if anything really useful comes up. Usually not. This would work for podcasts as well if you’re looking for an audio guide for some of the major museums and attractions. Some countries tourism departments even sponsor apps for specific tourist sites which offer free maps—perfect ways to use an iPod Touch for budget travel.

All those suggestions above are pretty obvious. But I’ve also tried to be a bit more creative in learning about new sights, cultures, etc. and it’s worked out well by using my iPod touch in creative ways.

Mt Sinai Sunrise
Sunrise from Mt Sinai in Egypt

When I climbed Mt. Sinai last week, I knew I needed to freshen up on my biblical history. So I downloaded a free Bible app with an offline translation. A few searches for “Moses” and “Sinai” within the app turned up the relevant passages. My friends and I were able to study up on our bible history while waiting for the spectacular sunrise. While I’m a big fan of paper books, having a copy of the Bible in my pocket when I was at such a religious site was undoubtedly useful.

There are so many apps available on the iTunes App Store that you’re bound to find something useful for travelling. It’s just a matter of searching it out and asking for recommendations. So many backpackers and travelers are carrying iTouch’s and iPhones. It’s become ubiquitous in hostels and on the travel circuit. I spent a whole evening in Dahab one night comparing apps with a few other travellers.

This post is part of a series. To read some other top reasons why I love my iPod Touch, click here.

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