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Articles: Explore the Old World with New Technology

England Countryside in Sussex

It wasn’t until I was walking along the streets of Lewes last weekend that I realized not everyone who has an iPhone knows the really cool ways you can use it when traveling. This revelation came to me when my tech-savvy friend was looking down at her GPS, as we had already taken a wrong turn out of the train station, and exclaimed, “Look! This shows us how to get there in real time!”

I was truly surprised. I asked her if she hadn't used the GPS before. She said she had used it to find out where she was and to see the surrounding map, but she didn’t know one could get real-time directions as one walked. The iPhone GPS tracks your every step as you’re walking, and it can also give instructions for driving and sometimes public transport as well. Siri will even tell you the directions turn by turn, if you’d like.

Thanks to her iPhone GPS, we found Lewes Castle, and it was beautiful.

I’ve often used my iPhone for this very purpose. The streets of London and Paris aren’t arranged in a grid like streets in the USA. They’re wiggly and windy, twisting in and out of fabulous architecture and narrow, cobblestone alleyways. It’s easy to get lost because when you think you’re walking parallel with the adjacent street, you’re really being led in a totally different direction without even realizing. This has happened to me more than once during my explorations of London. Now with the iPhone GPS and local network access (more below), I can find where I am in an instant.

Lewes Castle Gardens


We stood inside the wonder of the 11th century Lewes Castle and captured photos of it on our iPhones. Our technology was quite a drastic contrast to our surroundings. We found the castle by using our iPhone’s GPS. We consulted Google and Wikipedia to answer our questions and delve deeper into history. Inspired, we took notes on Notepad for future projects and places to visit. We tweeted, texted, and “checked in” social networks, and we did it all from a motte inside the bailey of this ancient fortress.

When we looked down in our hands, we saw a remarkable device that connects us to the world. When we turned our eyes outward from the keep, we saw the glorious English countryside that connects us to beauty, history, life. The device in our grasps makes life easier and more complicated all at once, while the breathtaking surroundings revealed the reason we live along with the inspiration to share our moments of joy.

I sent a picture of the Brighton Pier to Facebook. I checked in at Boho Gelato, where they have delicious flavors (at least six vegan ones each day). I shared just how very revolting Dutch Salt Liquorice truly is (seriously. don’t ever try it. ever. ever. ever.). Although Caramella's, the sweet shop in Brighton’s Laines that carries 30 varieties of it, was marvelous overall.

Using your iPhone Overseas

If you’re planning an international trip, don’t pay those crazy international fees slapped on by your provider. Get an unlocked, used iPhone from PowerMax and get your very own local number. I'm even able to still use an iPhone 3GS when overseas. You can get them for under $35 at PowerMax, so they’re perfect for travel. If you can swing a little more, go with the iPhone 4 or 4s, as you will have a better, faster experience overall.

Once in your destination country, visit a local phone provider (I use O2 when in England), and buy a pay-as-you-go SIM card for the iPhone. If your main iPhone is unlocked, you can pop your regular SIM out and pop this one right in; however, if you’re like me, you buy that discounted upgrade every two years to stay current with technology. That, of course, means another two-year contract with your provider (mine is AT&T), and they lock your phone to that provider. This means you cannot use a service other than theirs for the length of that contract. You can “jailbreak” it, but I don’t recommend that at all, as it voids the warranty among many other risks.

It’s much easier and safer (and ultimately less expensive) to get a used, unlocked iPhone for this purpose. Pop the foreign pay-as-you-go SIM card in, and voilà! You have a local phone with a local number.

Tariffs and Bolt Ons*

Pay-and-go “tariffs” usually include a generous amount of minutes, texts, and data. With this data, you can use your GPS to find where you are and where you’re going. You can connect to social networks. You can send and receive emails. You can Google historical information. You can find out what's playing at The Globe Theatre or where to buy tickets for Cumberbatch in Hamlet.

There are also special “bolt ons,” which are additions you can add to your “tariff.” For example, you can get a "bolt on" that offers three (3) international favorites. This "bolt on" gives you a hefty number of minutes to three (3) international phone numbers without further charge. For example, you can choose your mom's number, your best friend's number, and your partner's number, then you can call those three numbers without further charge. The "bolt on" also gives you a US number that friends and family in the US can call your foreign phone without international fees.

Brighton Pier

iLove iMessage

iMessage delivers more than just pretty blue texts messages. With iMessage, you’re not eating up the number of text messages you send... because they aren’t text messages. They’re iMessages. iMessages are more or less free texting! You can send and receive messages, just like a text, from any iDevice to any iDevice, like iPhone, iPod, or iPad. So even if you’re on the other side of the world, if the text field on your iDevice says iMessage (and not “Text Message”), you can send it for free either over the network or via WiFi. No international charges at all! Nada! Aucun! Nessuno! Keine!

Learn more about the difference between text messages and iMessages in this Apple Support article.

You Have the Power!

Don’t forget to get your World Traveler Adapter Kit before you leave. This is essential to both power and protect your iDevices. Since different countries have different voltage, Apple made these adapters to work in sync with each of those differences. This means your expensive iDevice won’t get fried by a foreign electricity through a cheap adapter. It is a wise investment.

I adore England, and thanks to Apple and their iPhone, I can explore without fear of getting lost. I can share England’s history and beauty with friends all over the world, and I can do it in real time. I can stay in touch with friends and family in the States without paying exorbitant international fees thanks to iMessage. And, when in the States, I can communicate with my English friends here in London the same way.

Thank you Apple.


* Tariffs and Bolt Ons are the terms used in the UK, but there are similar plans in other countries as well.



ChristineChristine is a Technical Support Specialist and Content Writer for PowerMax. Follow her articles as she takes you “Behind the Sasquatch: A Look Inside PowerMax,” an inside look at the day-to-day operations from the perspective of a Woman in Tech. She’ll also post great Tech Tips, helping you get the most of your Mac apps as well as write about some common technical issues and how to fix them. Finally, Christine will periodically post some Tutorials that teach readers how to do things like make podcasts and iPhone apps. Find what you’re looking for in the categories on the right. 

If you have a tech question or issue, please don’t hesitate to contact Christine for help.

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