Wednesday, April 23, 2014

5 Ways Your Phone Can Keep You Safe While Traveling (Apps, Navigation, Physical Protection and More)

5 Ways Your Phone Can Keep You Safe While Traveling
(Apps, Navigation, Physical Protection and More)

Rightly or wrongly, safety is often one of the biggest concerns we have while traveling. It’s easy to understand why – unfamiliar surroundings, cultures and languages leave us feeling less comfortable than we do at home. While technology is no replacement for awareness and common sense, there are still a few ways that your smartphone can help prevent or get you out of a sticky situation on the road.

Movement Detection
All those fancy motion sensors in your phone are useful for more than just playing games – they can also let you know when someone tries to steal your stuff. Install the free apps Best Phone Security (iOS) or Don’t Touch My Droid (Android) to get a loud alarm whenever your phone starts moving without your permission.

For a more sophisticated solution, attach a Bluetooth-powered nio tag to anything that you don’t want to lose – your bag, laptop, keys or even a child. When your phone and tag get further than a specified distance away from each other, an alarm will sound on both devices.

Review Apps
When you’re in a new city, it’s not always obvious where the dangerous neighborhoods and situations are. Is that low-priced hotel cheap for a reason, or is it just a good deal? Will the walk to a great restaurant take you through the worst part of town? Is it safe to stay with that Airbnb or Couchsurfing host?
Install the mobile apps for popular accommodation, restaurant and activity sites, and use them when planning where you’re going to stay and what you’re going to do. Start with the most popular ones – TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Yelp for instance – and add any others that fit your specific style of travel.

React Mobile
The React Mobile app takes safety tracking to the next level, allowing you to pre-select a group of people to be notified in case of an emergency. That group can track your location in real time, and with the touch of a button, you can alert them all via SMS, email and/or social media that there’s a problem. They’ll receive your current GPS co-ordinates, and you’ll be prompted to call the local emergency number.

Know Where You’re Going, How and When
Just as you would at home, try to make sure you know where you’re going while traveling, and how to get there. If you've got a mobile data connection, you’ll be able to use the same tools that you do usually – Google or Apple Maps, for example, or your favorite GPS navigation app.
Even if you don’t have data, though, you've still got options. There are several offline map and direction-finding apps available, which all let you download city maps in advance that will work even when your Internet connection doesn't.
Two of the more popular are Citymaps2Go and PocketEarth, but try a few to find the one you prefer. Ideally, find one that includes a routing feature – even if it doesn't have true turn-by-turn directions, a line on a map is more useful than just a flashing blue dot.
It’s also worth checking to see if the city you’re in has public transport apps available, to avoid missing the last train or waiting an hour at an unlit bus stop late at night.

Physical Protection With a Case
Finally, if you’re looking for physical protection for both your smartphone and yourself, consider investing in a case with a difference. The Yellowjacket iPhone 5 case, for instance, packs quite a punch – in this case, a 950,000 volt stun gun that doubles as an external battery pack. It’s not as powerful as a police taser, but will still provide quite a shock (pun intended) when deployed.
If you’d prefer a cheaper option, the SmartGuard iPhone 4 case comes bundled with a canister of pepper spray. The canister locks into place on the side of the case to prevent accidental discharge, and is able to deliver up to six half-second bursts of spray to keep an attacker at bay.

The best way to get out of a dangerous situation while traveling is to not find yourself in it in the first place – planning ahead, being aware of your surroundings and making sensible decisions. For those unavoidable situations, however, your smartphone can definitely help a lot more than you might have thought.



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