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iPhone, I Travel: Take Your Trip to the Next Level with iPhone

In the last three decades, three tools have changed my life: the Apple Macintosh computer in the late '80s, the Internet in the early '90s, and now the iPhone. Yeah, I know it sounds corny, but it's true. The iPhone is a unique combination of the two tools that empower me -- a personal computer and the Internet -- wrapped up in a small, easy-to-use, intuitive device that I can carry with me practically everywhere I go.

I'm so in love with the way my iPhone empowers me that I want to tell the world about it. Last time I felt this way, I became an author to share my passions (and most of you know where that's lead me). This time I'll be content with a blog. Perhaps the information on this page will make you seriously consider an iPhone. Or maybe you already have one and are looking for help making the most of it on your trip. Then again, maybe you've just seen me carrying my iPhone around everywhere I go and want to know why I'm such a geek. Now you'll know! (And just in case you're worrying about me, I'm not alone in my love for the iPhone -- the iPhone is Time Magazine's "Invention of the Year.")

This blog is the place to get short articles and tips on using the iPhone while travelling. And to demonstrate how amazing the iPhone is, I'll be writing and submitting all of these articles on my iPhone itself, while I'm away from my computer and/or travelling. Please check back for more each day!
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My iPhone, I Travel Feature Article

Posted 12-26-2007 at 01:36 PM by Jennifer Marx
The December 20 issue of PassPorter News carried a feature-length article on how I use my iPhone when I travel. The article generated many wonderful e-mails (thank you)! Here is the article for your reading pleasure:

iPhone, I Travel: Take Your Trip to the Next Level With iPhone
by Jennifer Marx, PassPorter Author

Are you ready to take your travels to the next level? Try an Apple iPhone. An iPhone on a trip is like Internet on a computer. With iPhone along, you're virtually always connected to a myriad of resources that can improve your travel and enrich your experience. I became an iPhone user in early October (a birthday present - thanks, Dave!) and fell in love with it within a week. This was no mere toy or fun gadget. When I took the iPhone on our recent MouseFest trip to Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line, I was amazed at how useful and essential my iPhone quickly became.

You've probably heard of the iPhone already. If not, on the surface the iPhone is a cell phone with a sophisticated touchscreen, built-in iPod, and Internet access via wi-fi as well as the exclusive carrier (AT&T in the U.S.). (Between wi-fi and the AT&T Edge data network, there's almost always a way to connect to the Internet without fuss or added cost.) I think the iPhone name is a bit of a misnomer, because it's the iPhone's non-cellphone features that I use the most. The iPhone is really so much more than a cell phone, and so unlike other cell phones, even those with touchscreens, media players, or web browsing. If you haven't seen the iPhone, you haven't seen anything yet. (More on how to see an iPhone at the end of this article.)

So how does the iPhone improve your travels? Allow me to relate my personal experience on my recent travels:

Checking the Weather FAST: The iPhone has a built-in weather checker (based on [url=http://mobile.yahoo.com/iphone/weatherYahoo.com weather data[/url]) that you can set for a multitude of locations. Before I left, I added Orlando as one of my locations and got the six-day forecast within seconds. While I was there, I checked the weather frequently -- the iPhone was so much faster than waiting for the Weather Channel (on TV) to display the local forecast (which meant more time in the parks!). If you're the type who wants more detailed weather data, you can either search for it via the Safari web browser on the iPhone or just bookmark this nifty Weather for iPhone web app.

Tracking Important Events: The iPhone's Calendar function allowed me to enter the dates and times of important events that I didn't want to forget in the excitement and distraction of MouseFest. I could determine how far in advance I wanted to be reminded of each event. When the event time drew near, the iPhone alerted me by vibrating and chirping.

Watching the Time: Speaking of alerts, the iPhone's Clock feature is really useful when travelling. I used the iPhone's Clock to set wake-up alarms for various days (different times for different days with different alarm sounds). I also used the Clock's Timer function to keep track of when my washer and dryer cycles at the guest laundry would finish and alert me that it was time to change loads. There is also a World Clock, so you can see what time it is around the world, and a Stopwatch, so you can see how it really takes to get through Haunted Mansion.

Finding My Way: The iPhone's Map feature helps you locate addresses, which is convenient when you need to make a last-minute Walgreens run. You can also use it for driving directions and satellite views. I even used it once as a geography cheat when I couldn't remember which state Boston was in (to my own defense, I was very tired at the time). The iPhone would have saved me earlier this year when I got lost driving around Orlando to a Toys 'R Us store!

Checking Park Times and Menus: While most of us pre-plan our trips to the best of our abilities, sometimes unforeseen events require us to make a u-turn... and the iPhone is so helpful in these instances. For example, we changed our plans one evening and scrapped the "adult's night out" to spend more time with Alexander. But we hadn't planned for it and didn't know what parks might be open. I pulled out my trusty iPhone, tapped the Safari icon, tapped my DisneyWorld.com bookmark, and within moments had pulled up the park hours (and happily discovered that there were Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom). I used the iPhone later in the trip to check out the menu (thanks to AllEars.Net) at Yak & Yeti. I did this countless times during the trip, quickly and simply. I'll even admit to a little recreational reading on the web during some downtime.

Sleeping With Ambient Sounds: Despite how often I travel, I sometimes find it hard to sleep in a hotel room. I used to bring along a travel clock with nature sounds to lull me to sleep, but no more thanks to my iPhone! I now use the iPhone's iPod feature to store and play various relaxing music and ambient soundtracks. I just set the iPhone on the nightstand next to me, plug it in to charge it, tap the iPod icon, tap the "Relaxing Ambient" playlist I've created, and tap Shuffle for a random selection. It plays the music through its built-in speaker and turns off when all songs have been played. I've also got some audiobooks in my iPhone for more mental stimulation, as well as some Backyardigans and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse TV show episodes for Alexander (I can't tell you how useful that has been at times!). Those of you who use an iPod more extensively than me would probably get even more use out of this feature.

Taking Pictures With the Camera: The viewscreen on my regular camera broke a few days into the trip, so if I hadn't had the easy-to-use camera on the iPhone, I would have been a very unhappy traveller. The iPhone's 2-megapixel camera is simple -- there's no flash or zoom -- but it's designed quite well regardless. I was amazed at the photos I could take with the iPhone's little camera. While I would never recommend that it replace a regular digital camera, it worked quite well in a pinch. I actually took more than 1500 photos with it while on my trip -- I noticed no slowdown or lag, found the photos really easy to browse through, and there was still plenty of room left on the 8 GB hard drive. Here's one of my favorite photos taken on my iPhone:


Mt. Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Staying in Touch With Folks Back Home: The iPhone's shutterbug aspect leads me into the biggest reason I love my iPhone -- the iPhone puts the Internet in my pocket. While I was on the plane ride down to Orlando, I got the bright idea to share the photos I took on my iPhone camera with the folks who had to stay behind by setting up a real-time photo blog. That evening I set it up (it requires a WordPress.com blog and the iPhoneSlide.com service -- both free) and began using it immediately. Suddenly I was sharing my experiences with thousands of people as they happened (I called it a "Window Seat") and I felt SO connected. My family, friends, and readers back home could see the fun things I saw, all with the touch of a button on my iPhone. I also set up the Mail app on the iPhone to forward important e-mails so I could stay on top of emergencies or important news. The Text Message app let me stay in touch with Ally, who was in school and could not join us on the trip. And the Safari app let me check in on the PassPorter web site and message board community, and respond to important issues even when I wasn't within reach of my laptop.

So what's wrong with an iPhone? Nothing's perfect, though the iPhone's list of shortcomings is short. It's not inexpensive ($399) and you need to sign a two-year contract with their exclusive carrier AT&T (in the U.S.) or other carriers internationally. My monthly bill with fees and taxes (I have the lowest rate plan) is $67.50, but that includes unlimited data service, so I don't have to worry when using Safari, e-mail, Maps, etc. Technically speaking, I wish the Camera app took photos larger than 2 megapixels, though I suspect that will be introduced in a future version. Some folks claim the data speeds on AT&T's data network (EDGE) are too slow, but I'm quite happy with them (and I'm not normally a patient person). The iPhone's design is slick in more ways than one -- that makes it a bit slippery at times and there's a tendency to drop it -- but if you put a protective case on it as I have, it can be dropped ocassionally without breaking it (I dropped it several times on this past trip without any damage).

Should you get an iPhone? I could go on and on about the iPhone's advantages while travelling, but let me sum it up with the expression I keep uttering, "I LOVE MY IPHONE." I urge you to consider getting an iPhone -- if not now, then when your current cell phone contract expires. The iPhone's price is quickly made up for by its conveniences -- I calculate that I've saved more than $1000 so far in gained time thanks to my iPhone. You won't be disappointed.

Want to learn more? I've started a blog -- iPhone, I Travel -- with tips on using the iPhone while travelling. Come check it out before you consider getting an iPhone, then come back when you've got one. If you already have one, come on by and please let me know you have an iPhone already -- I'd love to meet fellow iPhone lovers! If you want to check out an iPhone in person, drop by your local Apple Store (that's how I got hooked) or tag me next time we're at Disney together! You can also get more information and order an iPhone online -- activation is conveniently done at home on your computer!
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  1. Old
    I enjoyed your iPhone article. think you should have a forum devoted to technology and how to use in the World. Discussions would cover cell phones, GPSs, DVD players, mp3 players, laptops, batteries, cameras, etc.

    I'm traveling to the World with an extended family of 17. I have a small luggage bag filled with electronics for the trip. We'll be using all the items mentioned above on our trip. The iPhone will be traveling in my carry on fanny pack. Here's how I plan to use my phone:

    The Calendar: I have our assigned park scheduled for each day, along with the park hours and EMHs.

    The Clock: I can always check to see what time it is in different U.S. time zones. This saves me from having to reset my own watch as I cross time zones when I travel. It also helps me remember what time it is when friends and family live in different zones. The alarm function is, well, an alarm. But I also like the stopwatch and timer. The timer helps the kids see exactly how much time they have left to play video games or watch TV before bedtime. The stopwatch will help me track how long it takes to go from place to place in the park.

    The calculator: I use this to figure out taxes on purchases so I'm not too surprised by the costs of food or soveniors. It's also handy for figuring tips.

    Camera: I usually use my 35 mm digital Cannon. It's a professional camera and adds some bulk to my backpack, but its the best camera around. I would never go on a trip without it. The iPhone camera will work in a pinch., though. One of the things I plan on doing is sending instant pics via iPhone email back to family and friends during the day. That way they won't have to wait for the photopass pictures to upload at night. I also plan to use the camera to take pics of park items so friends back home can pick a souvenir for their own child. I will be taking a photo of my kids in case they are lost in the park. I will also record our car location with a photo on the iPhone. And we're gonna snap pictures thru the day of soveniors so at the end if the day, the kids will have an easier time choosing them.

    Maps: I have mapped out all of the WDW parks and bookmarked them for easy access.

    Weather: I have been watching the weather in Orlando all month. Coming from the Midwest, it'll be a treat to have 70+ degrees during the day at the park in the winter. It also helps me reshuffle plans due to possible rain showers.

    YouTube: I have been watching Disney park video while waiting for our trip. Seeing others' home movies also gives me a real glimpse at the park -- better than a book, a blog or a still photo.

    Internet: I have used this constantly to research and plan our trip. I can check many Disney fan sites in real time ... in the car as a passenger, while on the phone, while watching TV, in line at the checkout, at lunch, etc. I particularly like the Google Earth photos of WDW. It's another medium to familiarize myself with the park layout. I have all my sites sorted in folders and bookmarked for easy access. I can also email webpages to friends and family. I've also been listening to WDW podcasts over the net.

    Email: I get real time messages in my hand. No more waiting at the computer. This will also be handy to send updates to friends and family back home. When we get done with Test Track and want to send our thoughts while standing in line at another ride, we can do it. And since data messages are free with the iPhone, it cheaper than a phone call. I have also emailed essential touring plan info to myself. This way I can quickly reference the info without having to carry my PP book. (Next up in development: a Passporter and other ebooks that can be read on the iPhone. Can't wait to see that happen.)

    Phone: 'Nuff said. My favorite part is the list is contacts. It comes with locations not only for phone numbers, but also websites and street addresses. If I forget how to get there, I touch the address and the Maps application will map it for me.

    iPod: I have movies and music loaded on my iPhone for the trip. If one child wants to watch a different movie than the other one, viola, there's four to choose from. I think this will work well in the car ride or laying around in the hotel relaxing. And while some might frown at this, you can also watch it at the park waiting in line. If you buy the TV adapter, you can hook the iPhone into your TV and watch the movie. You could also review the photos you took with the iPhone on the big screen. (You can also do this on a DVD player or laptop.) Nothing says "cool" to kids more than the latest gaget, and I plan to keep them in good spirits as much as possible.

    Notepad: I write down lists of things I need to do: chores, groceries, pack for trip, etc. It's a good memory jogger for those of us at an age to appreciate the help. I will write a list of must sees and must dos here for each park. I also plan to use the notepad to write down my PhotoPass numbers in case I loose the actual card.

    All of this sounds great, huh? Well, if you think so, you should wait until the next generation of iPhones come out in 2008. They are scheduled to have more memory, faster Internet service, and probably a few more features. I've been using mine since July, and it's a good everday gadget to have. You just have to have a need for it and to know how to use it.

    Sent from my iPhone
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    Posted 12-27-2007 at 03:20 PM by JBFletchersMom JBFletchersMom is offline
  2. Old
    Hi Jennifer!

    Love the iPhone info! I've got one too and am so nuts about it. However, I've had trouble when I try to access Disney.com (or any of it's various pages) with the lack of flash on my iPhone and am not sure how to resolve it. Are you actually viewing the disney site proper? am I missing something or have you found a cool work-around?

    Thanks for any input
    Lori D. aka fantayzya long time reader/lurker
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    Posted 01-21-2008 at 09:41 PM by fantayzya fantayzya is offline
  3. Old

    Other Apps

    I have the park maps of three florida parks and both california parks on my iphone. There are not as complete or detailed as the passporter maps but they do work in a pinch. The phone is always in your pocket so there are always there. Urban spoon also can select resturants in the park while in the california parks. I have not had my iphone in florida yet but I will get to try it in 2 weeks...
    0 Pixie Dust
    Posted 11-22-2008 at 07:03 PM by bdmphs bdmphs is offline
  4. Old
    goofyboysmama's Avatar
    Hi there! Just found this article. Here's how I plan to use my iphone coming up this June, 09:

    - Map apps of WDW! Will come in handy as a supplement or replacement to the passporter maps
    - free app: tip calculator Will use with the DDP, since tips aren't included.
    - Weather: already have Orlando plugged in
    - back up camera
    - distraction for DS4 and DS6 (movies,
    Disney shows - I hope I can get some Phineas and Ferb!)
    - music of course, probably mostly during on the plane
    - Foodle app - this is really a free grocery list application, but I will be using it to check off my souvenier list. The list shows up on the screen, then when you buy/find your item, you just shake the iphone and the next item comes up. Pretty cool...
    I can't wait to use it! I will let you know how it works in my TR
    0 Pixie Dust
    Posted 03-21-2009 at 12:21 PM by goofyboysmama goofyboysmama is offline
  5. Old
    kriston's Avatar
    Love the iPhone info! Funny story... My friends laughed at me (then went out and bought their own iPhone) when I told them if I were stranded on a desert island and I could only take ONE prized possession, it would be my iPhone!
    0 Pixie Dust
    Posted 04-23-2011 at 07:36 PM by kriston kriston is offline
    Updated 04-23-2011 at 07:37 PM by kriston (typo)
 







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