Internet is our magic sauce when we travel, right?
I mean, we use GPS and Google Maps to find our way. We use apps like Yelp and TripAdvisor to check for attractions nearby. We post on Facebook and share images on Instagram. We call our loved ones using Viber or chat using WhatsApp, and we translate the words we do not understand from a foreign language.
To access the internet, I usually use a local SIM card with an internet plan, though sometimes this is not worth it.
For example, I was once on a trip where I was travelling to a different European country every three days. With the average price for a SIM card in Europe being 15-25 Euros, I would have needed to spend 100 Euros for internet access alone!
So I decided to ditch the SIM card this time and find alternative solutions.
Find your way around with offline maps
Maps and GPS are the most important things about having internet access while travelling. However, there are several other ways to get around without having access to these services, as Google Maps now offers offline maps.
When you do have internet access, type the name of the city you are visiting into Google Maps and click “download.”
Other apps that over a similar service include Citymaps2go and maps.me.
Offline city guides come in handy when traveling without internet.
Translate a foreign language
Google Translate is a wonderful tool for translating languages when you travel. It even has a nifty new feature that allows you to take a picture of a sign in a foreign language and have it instantly translated!
Previously you needed to be online to use Google Translate, but not anymore!
Google Translate now lets you download full languages so you can use the service while offline. One more issue resolved!
Facebook and Instagram
Don't tell me you were expecting me to tell of a way to access Facebook and Instagram offline. Unfortunately, there is no way around this one, so my strategy is to utilise any WIFI signal, at a restaurant or a cafe, for example.
You can make use of the 15 or 20 minutes when you are waiting for your food to browse Facebook and upload images.
Believe me, this is much better than wandering around a city and not paying attention to what is happening around you just because you are consumed by social media and sharing selfies.
You can also use something like Jiwire WIFI finderto search for nearby open WIFI spots, which can come in very handy.
Use free WiFi when you stop for lunch or coffee while visiting a new city. (Photo: Nour Eldin Ebrahim)
When in a new city, you will likely want some app to show you the cool places nearby, such as landmarks or a nice place to eat.
For this, you usually turn to TripAdvisor. Well, TripAdvisor now offers a feature where you can download an entire city guide for offline browsing!
Not just that, there is an incredible cool tool called Stay.com. It allows you to create and customise a full city guide based on your preferences, pinning the locations of the places you choose on a map.
Google has also launched a really amazing app called Google Trips, which lets you download entire cities for later browsing. It has very nifty features like complete day plans, places of interest and much more. It will cover you in this department, that's for sure!
No internet, no problem, enjoy your trip without it.
WhatsApp and messaging
I usually utilise my roaming service just to send messages if needed. But there is also that awesome service called ChatSim.
I never tried it personally, but it is reportedly a SIM card that you buy and charge annually for EGP 260, and it enables you to send unlimited SMS and use all messaging apps in more than (150) countries for free. However, it only sends text messages, if you want to send multimedia messages you will have to pay more. Seems to me like a good deal.
Is your life easier now?