Amy Bertrand, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 21, 2012
As you and your loved ones head out for spring break, there is a safety gadget you are probably holding, even as you get on the plane or drive in your car: your smart phone.
Here are some tips from U.S. Cellular on how to use your smart phone for a safe spring break.
Save your itinerary on your phone. Regardless of whether your printed itinerary is stowed in your luggage on the plane, left in the hotel room or forgotten on the kitchen table at home, by saving it on your phone, it will also be available in the palm of your hand. Access confirmation numbers, reservation times and more to avoid problems at check-in and so you're never slowed down.
Utilize your phone's camera. You can snap photos of restaurants, shops and landmarks that interest you and show the photos to your hotel concierge or a local resident so you can go back and check them out. You can also take photos of your hotel room number, rental car license plate and other travel information you need to have on hand. Use the camera to capture a virtual scrapbook of your vacation as well by taking photos and videos of new friends and new experiences.
And here's a tip from me: Use your phone to take a photo of your children (or even your friends) every morning. That way if your child is lost, you have a record of exactly what they were wearing and how they looked that day.
Balance your vacation budget. Vacations are meant to be stress-free, so the last thing you want is to worry about busting your trip budget when you find a one-of-a-kind souvenir or want to give in to a spontaneous splurge like dinner at a nice restaurant in town. By using a smartphone application like Mint or EasyMoney, both of which are free on the Android Market, you can track your available funds and spending while on vacation. By keeping an eye on your cash flow, you can enjoy your Spring Break without paying for it when you get back.
Let your phone be your guide. Your smartphone provides access to travel apps that can make vacationing the fun, worry-free time it's meant to be. Read restaurant reviews and make reservations; access maps, directions and navigation tools; check weather updates; and learn about the best activities and attractions in town.
Enjoy the security blanket. If you're traveling as a family with teenage or college-age students, they may ask for some freedom and time to themselves. Enjoy your family time together, but if you decide to let the kids go out on their own, you'll have peace of mind that you can check in via calls or texts at anytime. And, while the kids are out, parents can enjoy some alone time as well. Whether you split up for shopping, resting or golfing, everyone is just a phone call away.
Stay connected and charged up. Sync your smartphone to your email or sign up for text message alerts so you don't miss travel itinerary updates or urgent messages. Don't forget to bring phone chargers and car chargers so you don't lose battery power while in route or sightseeing.