Things Learned While Traveling Recently

 

First off, I don't fly anywhere all that often, so many of you here will have a LOT more experience than I do in this area. I am going to post a few things that I have learned lately and, hopefully, others will post their experiences that will be helpful to others.

While I don't have one yet, I have vowed to get a Scott-E-Vest, or similar device, in the future. I think it would be pretty helpful to take everything out of my pocket, put it in the Scott-E-Vest, zip through TSA screening and away you go.

My wife and some other family flew from Minneapolis Saint Paul MN recently for the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque. I know from previous experience that a topped of smartphone can be pretty helpful to the traveling experience.

One of the products that I bought recently is a Scosche goBAT 6000
Portable Wall Charger & Back-Up Battery. The reason that I really like this is because it serves dual duty. It is a wall charge with two USB ports AND it is a back up battery away from regular AC power. I used it in the airplane to keep my phone topped off.

I brought along a two USB port car charger. We met my mother-in-law in Albuquerque and she had her car, but being able to plug into a cigarette lighter/power outlet and top off was quite handy. In retrospect, I should have brought along my Anker 4 port USB car charger!

My wife and I are on Total Wireless, which is a Verizon MVNO. It works well, but like any carrier, there are occasionally places/times that the system is overloaded. I have a Netgear AT&T Unite Explore hotspot with the $20 per month unlimited data. I get that in my pocket for the times that I needed it. Occasionally I have been away from home and something I want to download will state, "wifi only". Having wifi with you is very handy.

On the flight itself, downloading content from Netflix prior to the flight can be very handy. Not all of their content can be downloaded this way, but there are quite a few things to choose from.

Last week was the first time I have ever used noise cancelling headphones. While I can't, or won't, make a recommendation yet on which brand(s) or model(s) to use, the $100 Anker worked well for me. I bought them at Wal Mart. They are Bluetooth, but also have a jack to plug in a cord. I think having the ability to use either is great.

For wifi on the place, I read T-Mobile gives their customers an hour of free wifi in-flight. so, I tried my mother-in-law's phone number in-flight. It had slow wifi for exactly one hour. I would definitely use that again.

Having wifi in-flight allowed me to check an app to see for myself where we where and how fast we were flying. I could have seen that from the Delta app, too, but it was nice to see for myself.

I am also going to post a separate thread on the best things you can do without data on your phone.

Chargers and coverage arees

This is a real consideration whether flying or driving cross county. Anker is one of the brands that has a proven track record for reliability for me. I avoid the low cost ones at the checkout aisle. Look for one that will provide several ports and can support high charge rates. These typically are 120v plug in units. Those that plug into the car's power point are limited by the capacity of the lighter port, but even a low charge rate will usually keep up with the demands of the device.

Cellular dead zones are a real possibility and are often encountered while traveling. The major cellular carriers publish maps that show where they have service, but they aren't very accurate. As you may deduce from my handle, I travel a lot by RV and am no stranger to dead zones. While it's no surprise that there are wide swaths like those in Idaho and Nevada where there is no service at all, I was recently surprised when we arrived at a large resort campground only 13 air miles east of San Diego. Because of the terrain, there was no hint of cellular coverage whatsoever, The coverage maps generally don't take into consideration that topography can create absolute dead zones within an area that would otherwise have good coverage.

One observation: Cell phones attempt a handshake with the nearest tower about 5 times a minute whenever the phone or mobile hotspot is powered on. As you travel away from the tower, the phone turns up the transmitter amplifier. When traveling through areas with spotty or no service, the battery will drain quickly as the phone is repeatedly searching for a connection at max power. Being able to keep the phone plugged into a charger will prevent it from discharging. When that's not possible (hiking in the mountains), turn it off or place it in airplane mode to maintain the charge.

--
"There's no substitute for local knowledge" nüvi 750, nüvi 3597

Things Learned While Traveling Recently

TXRVer wrote:

...Cellular dead zones are a real possibility and are often encountered while traveling. The major cellular carriers publish maps that show where they have service, but they aren't very accurate. As you may deduce from my handle, I travel a lot by RV and am no stranger to dead zones. While it's no surprise that there are wide swaths like those in Idaho and Nevada where there is no service at all, I was recently surprised when we arrived at a large resort campground only 13 air miles east of San Diego. Because of the terrain, there was no hint of cellular coverage whatsoever, The coverage maps generally don't take into consideration that topography can create absolute dead zones within an area that would otherwise have good coverage.

One observation: Cell phones attempt a handshake with the nearest tower about 5 times a minute whenever the phone or mobile hotspot is powered on. As you travel away from the tower, the phone turns up the transmitter amplifier. When traveling through areas with spotty or no service, the battery will drain quickly as the phone is repeatedly searching for a connection at max power. Being able to keep the phone plugged into a charger will prevent it from discharging. When that's not possible (hiking in the mountains), turn it off or place it in airplane mode to maintain the charge.

The other time that we get into very rural areas, without cell phone coverage, is when we go ATVing. I sometimes will turn my smartphone off to preserve battery life, but I should get into the habit of switching it to the Airplane Mode. I am assuming it will go from Airplane mode on to Airplane mode off quicker than simply powering the entire phone on, but I guess I could time it to see!

With a Motorola G6, it took about 10 seconds to go from Airplane Mode on to Airplane Mode off and acquire cellular signal. When I went from completely off, it took about a minute before it was powered on and had acquired a signal.

also by GPS

Jim1348 wrote:

Having wifi in-flight allowed me to check an app to see for myself where we where and how fast we were flying.

As this is a GPS site, I'll mention that you could probably have done that with a GPS also, especially if you had access to a window.

I routinely carry my 3597 for car navigation at my destination. I generally get a fix promptly after the 10,000 foot notification after takeoff, and about once every half hour to destination. With the receiver put to the window immediately after power on, most of the time it is not very many seconds to a fix, so I've never depleted the battery enough to be a concern. If I'm curious about location and speed, I just move the unit to a good viewing position after getting the fix in the window. Often it can hang onto enough satellites to continue updating. But the signal strength goes way down.

Doing the updates that frequently usually means the receiver does not have much trouble finding the satellite set--and it definitely lowers acquisition time at the rental car lot on arrival.

Of course, there are airlines which don't permit passenger GPS--I check before travel.

--
personal GPS user since 1992

.

Jim1348 wrote:

Having wifi in-flight allowed me to check an app to see for myself where we where and how fast we were flying. I could have seen that from the Delta app, too, but it was nice to see for myself.

I am also going to post a separate thread on the best things you can do without data on your phone.

You can do this without data/cell service, if your phone has GPS capability, and you download maps in advance.

For example, Google Maps will let you download custom-sized maps on your phone. There are other apps that do the same, such as HereWeGo, which lets you select states to download. The GPS function of the phone will then be able to overlay on the pre-downloaded maps.

A cool app for airborne is FlyOver Country. Free and from the National Science Foundation. Ahead of time, put in your start and end airports, and it saves a map with POIs visible from the plane that you can read without data/cell signal. Also tells you speed, heading and altitude.

Simple

Keep it simple. It's way too easy to go overboard with all the possible options.

I just make sure I have a good car charger with multiple USB outlets and USB cables, and a couple AC/USB chargers. Done.

An app that lets you know where you have a wi-fi hotspot helps.

A good aux battery/charger is a good idea if going to be using the device considerably and no access to power for a long time.

--
GPSMAP64s, iPhone 6 w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

No Need For an App

diesel wrote:

An app that lets you know where you have a wi-fi hotspot helps.

Why would you need an app to tell you there is WIFI available? My iPhone is two clicks. Settings>WIFI. Then peruse the list of secure and unsecured points.

Android is just as simple. Settings>WIFI.

--
Frank Nuvi 3597LMT 37.322760, -79.511267

Things Learned While Traveling Recently

phranc wrote:
diesel wrote:

An app that lets you know where you have a wi-fi hotspot helps.

Why would you need an app to tell you there is WIFI available? My iPhone is two clicks. Settings>WIFI. Then peruse the list of secure and unsecured points.

Android is just as simple. Settings>WIFI.

I could see the value in having a map with the location of wifi hotspots, though. Say you are somewhere with no wifi and a map tells you the nearest one is three blocks north, you know which way to go to get it.

I said we didn't us the GPS on our last trip

I forgot that my husband did use our GPS. He always gets a window seat and likes to watch where we are as we fly. He has always been able to get a signal from the window.

Also, to cut down on all my clutter while traveling internationally, I bought an American Tourister Travel Adapter with 4 USB ports.
It is 100-240V so I could just plug it into any Europe plug (it comes with several different plugs) and charge all my devices from their USB cord. I also took a two plug USB and a Europe plug adapter.
On the three hour plane trip the two plug adapter came in handy as I was able to plug it into the ac port under my seat. On the 10 hour plane trip I was able to just plug the USB cord into a USB port on the arm of my seat.
In years past I took a currant converter and it was loud and bulky and this time things were so much better with just the two little items.

--
Mary, Nuvi 2450, Garmin Viago, Honda Navigation, Nuvi 750 (gave to son)

travel tips

Thank you for your great tips. I like the idea of the Scosche goBAT 6000 Portable Wall Charger & Back-Up Battery that has the dual purpose of wall charger and back up battery.

Security

phranc wrote:
diesel wrote:

An app that lets you know where you have a wi-fi hotspot helps.

Why would you need an app to tell you there is WIFI available? My iPhone is two clicks. Settings>WIFI. Then peruse the list of secure and unsecured points.

Android is just as simple. Settings>WIFI.

Because the hotspots provided by my ISPs are secure. I prefer to use secure hotspots than unsecure public wi-fi.

Besides, looking at a map for hotspots and then going there is more practical and safer than driving around watching what wi-fi shows up on your phone.

--
GPSMAP64s, iPhone 6 w/Garmin North America, Yaesu VX-8R w/GPS.

Boingo App Heads-Up

Jim1348 wrote:
phranc wrote:
diesel wrote:

An app that lets you know where you have a wi-fi hotspot helps.

Why would you need an app to tell you there is WIFI available? My iPhone is two clicks. Settings>WIFI. Then peruse the list of secure and unsecured points.

Android is just as simple. Settings>WIFI.

I could see the value in having a map with the location of wifi hotspots, though. Say you are somewhere with no wifi and a map tells you the nearest one is three blocks north, you know which way to go to get it.

Agree that you can find WiFi where you currently are by looking at WiFi in Settings, and a map is good if you are not in Wifi range. Just a heads up: have read that the Boingo hotspot app (usually the airport paid provider) is very problematic (screws up other WiFi settings on phone and in other apps), and should not be downloaded. Definitely don't need it to connect to Boingo.

Alternate to Scott E Vest

A large or medium zip lock bag can hold most of your e devices. It's clear so the security can see everything.

It's also a few cents instead of $135 for a vest.

--
NUVI2555LMT, NUVI350

Yes!

GPSgeek wrote:

A large or medium zip lock bag can hold most of your e devices. It's clear so the security can see everything.

It's also a few cents instead of $135 for a vest.

When I fly, I use a zip lock bag, put everything from my pockets (phone, wallet, loose change, etc.) into it and drop that in the bin for the x-ray machine. This way, I can keep track of everything and I don't have to deal with digging through my pockets for that missing quarter that keeps setting off the metal detector. I've done the same with a couple of recent events I've attended, holding the bag for security to see while they wand me.

--
The Moose Is Loose! nuvi 760