Backpacking has become a hugely popular holiday choice in the US, with more holiday makers opting for a back to basics experience. The low-cost form of travel is renowned as one of the best ways to get to grips with a country’s culture and society. However, fitting all the items you need in a single backpack can be a struggle. To save you hassle while abroad, the packing process needs to be ruthless anything you can do without should be left at home.
But before you cross your smartphone off of your list consider this: an iPhone offers multiple features and applications which may ultimately save you space and hassle. Instead of trying to cram a map, compass and camera into your bag, your smartphone will offer an all-in-one solution. You will also be able to use your iPhone to find out information on weather reports for your destination (WeatherPro, £2.49), understand currency exchange rates (XE Currency, free) and even set personalised alarms to help you overcome jetlag (JetLag Genie, £1.99).
As well as proving to be a useful gadget when you arrive at your destination, your smartphone will provide you with entertainment on your flight. Many game apps are free to download and will be much appreciated on a long haul flight. A healthy library will also help pass the time whilst in the air.
Another, more obvious, use for your iPhone when on your travels is keeping in touch with your friends and family back home. If you are backpacking abroad for a long period of time you may start missing your loved ones. Facetime, as well as the option to text and call is fantastic for travelers feeling a little homesick.
However, one of the biggest concerns when taking your iPhone with you abroad is the roaming fees that you may incur. Some networks can charge huge fees for texting, calling and using the internet. EU citizens are somewhat protected from this when traveling to countries within the EU. Charges are currently capped at €0.29 (£0.24) per minute for calls and €0.70 (£0.59) per MB. This is set to drop in 2014 to €0.19 (£0.16) per minute and €0.20 (£0.17) per MB. However, if you are travelling to a country outside the EU, or are not an EU citizen, you are subject to whatever charges your network makes.
In order to avoid huge phone bills waiting for you on your return home from Europe and still enjoy the benefits of taking your iPhone on your backpacking travels, it is highly recommended to rent a smartphone. There are several companies such as Cellhire who offer a selection of European phones for rental, with a European SIM fitted for the country you are visiting. This will spare you from huge roaming costs, whilst allowing you to use your pre-existing number.
Enjoy your travels and don’t forget to keep in touch with everyone back home in the US!