Updated: May 2018 - As a Small Business Owner, I'm always looking for ways to save money when traveling overseas. We're planning a business trip to London England from San Francisco. I'm only traveling with an iPhone, iPad and a Bluetooth keyboard / case for this trip. The laptop stays on my desk in the office.Read More
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You have to be crazy to let your mobile professionals use the Starbucks Free WiFi without using a low-cost VPN App on their Smartphone, Tablet or Laptop. I'm not trying to pick on Starbucks (although it helped get your attention didn't it?). This issue exists with most FREE WiFi services, including Airports, Restaurants, Cafes, McDonald's, Starbucks, Hotels, etc. It's a bigger concern when you travel overseas.
If you are wondering... A virtual private network (VPN) enables a Desktop, Laptop, Smartphone and Tablet to send and receive encrypted data across open public networks like WiFi. In many small businesses, VPN is more secure than their own private company WiFi network. Wikipedia has a more technical description of a VPN Network
Why You Should Care
There's a popular free hacker app called FireSheep that lets anyone sitting near you in a room see (and copy) everything you are browsing, sending and receiving over a Free WiFi connection. All your passwords, emails, browsing, client info, business transactions, reports... you get the idea. If you have any doubts how easy this is to do, just read the FireSheep Test in this article.
The good news is that some of your existing apps already offer secure data protection. Google Apps and most Banking Apps have encryption built into their service to protect your data over the internet. However, you need to check your other apps to confirm if they are secure when using a Free public WiFi connection.
Is it hard to use?
No. The new companies have made this a lot easier. You need to select a vendor, sign up for a service level, download the app and turn it on. That's it.
In the past, VPN services were very expensive and only large companies used them. Now like much of the new technology today there are free and low-cost versions of VPN. Some services are less than $10 per month per user. The cost is low and the protection is very high. The challenge is always finding the best solution for you and your business.
Small Business VPN Vendors
Based on our research to date, we just started testing the following low-cost VPN services. Cloak for the all Apple Users: iPhone, iPad and Mac laptops ProXPN for Windows, Android, Apple Smartphones, Tablets and Laptops.
Does anyone have any other suggestions for Small Businesses on a tight budget?
Photo Credit: adamr with freedigitalphotos.net
If you are one of the 60,000,000+ iPhone (or iPad / iTouch) owners, you can use these 25+ Applications to save money, reduce travel hassles and make you more productive before, during and after your trip. In addition, if you have an iPhone 4, we will describe a few more "extra" applications (or Apps) that you can use during your travels. Some Apps are included standard on the iPhone, others have to be downloaded from the iTunes Store, using the "App Store" App (standard on the iphone). Over 200,000+ iTunes Apps are available for you to download.
This may sound funny... but I have over 100 Apps on my iPhone 4. In this article, I include many of my favorite Apps that you can use to Plan, Research your trip, Check on your Day-to-Day Travel and Post-trip wrap-up activities.
Before You Go - Travel Planning & Research
- Google Maps - Google Maps can help you select your hotel based on how far it is from the beach, ski slopes, a client meeting or a city office. Google Maps comes standard on the iPhone and includes FREE wireless traffic updates, driving directions (on Graph Maps or Turn-by-Turn Direction Lists), Mass Transit pick-up locations (for trains, subways & buses) and walking (biking) directions. You an also download Google Earth for more detailed info on a specific vacation area anywhere in the world)
- Weather Channel - We prefer the Weather Channel App for planning travel to the standard Weather App that comes with the iPhone. Search and Bookmark the City that you are going to visit. Then, check the 10-day Forecast and determine what to pack. The day before your trip, you can track any bad weather coming your way during the trip and plan accordingly.
- TripIt - Everyone seems to like this App. Use it to consolidate all your travel plans into one list and sync them into your iPhone Calendar, Tripit is terrific for providing key information in one place, hotel phone numbers, maps, key contacts etc. You can download the Free or Paid version (more features).
- Kayak - They have a great Search App that looks at all the other online travel services in one place. We use it to find the best prices before we book a vacation, hotel, airline or car rental. They also have a great Free Alert service that emails you a running 12 months of average pricing each month for a trip(s) that you specify.
- Airline Apps - Download your favorite Airline App to check for prices, schedules and check-in services. The Check-in services can really save you time at the airport and reduce the wait time on lines.
- Online Travel Agents - You can download Priceline, Expedia, Kayak and Travelocity from the App Store. They all have Apps that can be very helpful.
- Open Table - Before you travel, sign up for this service. You can use the iPhone App to make reservations in advance or in a taxi on your way to the restaurant.
- Yelp - We often use the Yelp App to check out restaurant feedback before we make reservations.
- Games - There are lots and lots of fun easy-to-learn games available in the iTunes Store. They can make the time fly by if your flights are delayed. Find fun Games on iTunes
- TV Shows - Catch up on your favorite TV Shows or missed episodes by using the iTunes App to download TV shows from iTunes
- Movies - Rent or Watch Movies during your trip using the standard iTunes App. If you own a new iPhone 4, the screen in incredibly sharp to watch High Definition (HD) or Regular movies. New movie releases on iTunes Top movie rentals on iTunes, Special priced movie bundles on iTunes
- iBook or Kindle - Must-haves, if you love to read. Buy eBooks using the standard iTunes App. If you prefer Amazon, download the new Amazon Kindle App (from the iTunes Store) and then buy ebooks directly from Amazon (using the Kindle App). The iPhone is excellent for bringing multiple Books without the extra weight. Note: Some people may prefer buying an Apple iPad or the new Amazon Kindle Reading Device for the larger screen and type.
- Audio Books - You can use the Standard iTunes App to listen to audio books. Buy Audio Books to listen to best sellers or an old favorite book. Audiobooks on iTunes - Main Section or Best selling audiobooks on iTunes
During your Trip - Traveling
- Google Maps - Maps helps you get around a new city or resort. The iPhone has a compass feature to help you find where you are going.
- Weather Channel - Check the hourly weather in the morning before you go out... and plan your day around the weather
- Google Search (with Voice) - Speak to your iPhone and search for anything you need or want. The speech recognition is fantastic for searching. It really works! Just be in a quite area.
- Facetime Video Call - If you and a loved one have an iPhone 4, this one App makes the price of the phone all worth it. You literally push one button and you are talking and seeing the other person. If you have Kids, a Spouse or a Parent at home while you are stuck in a hotel room on the road, you can't put a price on how wonderful it is to see and talk with your loved ones. My wife and I love using Facetime. Note: You both need to be connected to WiFi for Facetime to work at this time. I believe that by next summer Facetime will work anyplace.
- Camera & Video - The standard iPhone Camera App can be used to snap photos and shoot HD video. The camera quality is extremely good and has a fast shutter speed and a digital zoom. It is one of the best camera phones on the market today. The photos can be excellent during the day. However, if photos are important to you, it's handy to carry a point-and-shoot or Digital SLR Camera with you when traveling. Note: We also love the easy-to-use and compact Flip Video Recorder for shooting excellent High-Def (HD) Videos. Buy a Flip Video Camcorder
- White Noise (Sound Machine) - My wife loves... and needs this App wherever we travel. The App has 40 different sounds that block outside noises (and snoring). It helps you get to sleep in a new bed quickly. It also has a Turn-Off Timer and an Alarm to wake you up.
- Alarm - The standard Alarm App can be set to wake you up in the moring. I never fully trust the Hotel Alarm Clock, Clock Radio or "Wake-Up" Calls from the Hotel Operator.
- iBook or Kindle - If you love to read, the iBook and Kindle Apps are excellent. With the strict luggage weight limits these days, you can bringing multiple books without the extra weight. Note: An Apple iPad (or Amazon Kindle) is considered a much better choice for reading.
- iTunes Music, TV, Movies and Videos - Great for the plane trip or on a beach. You may want to buy a small travel speaker to play the music in your hotel room or for a private beach.
- iTunes Podcasts - This is part of the iTunes App. You can get Free audio and video program downloads of many of your favorite news shows and newspapers from around the world to take with you. I use this App every day to watch or listen to my High Tech Updates and the News.
- Audible.com - Listen to those favorite books that you just haven't read yet.
- Calendar - Use the Calendar to keep all your key info during travel. Tip: Print out a copy before you travel for emergencies.
- Skype - New Upgrade keeps Skype running in the background once you sign-in. Now anyone can Skype call your iPhone and it will ring like a regular phone call. Talk or Text with Family, Friends or Business Assoicates with the Skype App for FREE
- AroundMe - This App is very handy in cities when you are looking for a local restaurant, cafe or Bank ATM. They use the GPS in the iPhone to find the closest places to you and how far away they are on a map.
When you Come Home - Post Trip
- iMovie - Very Ease-to-use App to create and improve movies and then load them to Facebook or Flickr Web-Service You can also use iMovie to create slide show movies (with background music) from your photos. (iPhone4 - $5)
- Flickr - Use the Flickr App to load, share and store your travel photos.
- Facebook - Upload any photos that you have not uploaded during the trip to share with family, friends or business associates.
- Print Photos - Costco, Shutterfly, Kodak and Snapfish also have good websites to upload, share and print photos.
Here are links to the iTunes Store to download the Free and Paid Apps that you are interested in using during your trip.
A few more Travel Tips:
1. Very Important: When you are traveling internationally (outside the USA), make sure you turn off your GSM Radio on the iPhone before you land and only use WiFi with your iPhone overseas. WiFi is often FREE and GSM voice and roaming charges are prohibitively expensive to use.
2. If you have any questions or problems before your trip, stop by your Apple or AT&T Store to ask for help downloading or setting up your iPhone/iTouch. You can also call the USA Apple Support phone number at: 800-275-2273.
3. Look up the appropriate Apple Support Phone Number for the country that you are visiting and enter it in your iPhone Phonebook. Apple Support Internationa Country Phone Numbers
4. Try to download the Apps (we discussed in the article) before you travel. Give yourself a little time before your trip to play with all the Apps so you can enjoy your trip.
5. Please share your own favorite Top Apps for Travel by commenting below.
We hope this article has helped you think about how you can use the iPhone to make your travel so much easier.
Have a safe and fun trip!