iPad travel: guide to taking your tablet abroad

iPad navigation and maps

The perfect app for hikers and drivers, ForeverMap (£1.19) uses OpenStreetMap to help you find your way around most of Europe by car or on foot. Download the relevant maps before leaving home and you can use your device's Location Services to plot your position anywhere in the continent without 3G or Wi-Fi access.


USEFUL: ForeverMap offers free maps that include Wikipedia links

The maps are free and include a gazetteer and Wikipedia links. If you'd rather let the train take the strain, you'll want DB Navigator in your pocket (free, iPhone and iPad).

With timetables for 200,000 stations around Europe, it can identify your closest station and which trains you need to take from there to get to your chosen destination. Its itineraries are truly impressive, taking into account changes, borders and timezones, walks between stations, and the platforms you'll need to find at larger stations. If you're travelling further afield, Kayak (free, iPhone and iPod touch) will help you book hotels, flights and cars.

Find a flight that meets your requirements and it'll use the destination as a start point for hotel bookings. Each hotel has ratings, reviews and photos, so you can check them out before you check in. When it's time to come home, you can use its integrated flight tracker to see if your flight's on time. You'll need to keep your device fully charged, so check out Apple's World Travel Adapter Kit.

This £31 plug set will power and charge every iPhone, iPad and iPod touch in the US, Japan, China, Europe, Korea, Australia, Hong Kong and the UK. You can pick and mix the various parts, so needn't carry the whole kit on every trip. All you need now are some games for the kids – the most effective weapons against the cries of 'are we there yet?'

Getting your iPad on Wi-Fi abroad

Roaming can be expensive, but a few simple measures will help you manage your costs. Turn off Push services and Notifications through Settings, so that your device isn't constantly polling the server, and switch off cellular data when you don't need it, turning it on through Settings when you want to go online. If you're travelling with both an iPhone 4 and an iPad, consider enabling data on just the iPhone and using this as a wireless access point for the iPad.

This will work out cheaper than accessing data services on both, and will also get non-3G iPads online; our guide to setting up Personal Hotspot on p86 explains how to get started-. Up to three devices can connect over Wi-Fi, so friends could share a single connection.

If your hotel doesn't offer Wi-Fi, there are probably plenty of other places that do, and Wi-Fi Finder (free, universal) will help you locate nearby hotspots. It also gives you details about each, including the price. Save on costly hotel phone bills by using Skype (free, iPhone and iPod touch) to call home over Wi-Fi. Call rates start at 0.8p a minute to UK, US and European landlines if you take out a 400-minute monthly subscription at £2.99.

Wi-Fi finder

FIND WI-FI: Various apps enable you to locate Wi-Fi networks

Cheaper options start at 79p a month for 60 minutes, and you can pay as you go at 1.4p per minute. Use the same app to book hotels and restaurants in your host country at local rates, but avoid using it over a 3G connection or you'll incur roaming fees. If you're driving in an unfamiliar place, a turn-by-turn navigation app will help prevent you from getting lost as you explore.

TomTom Europe (£69.99, iPhone) isn't cheap but stores all the maps on your phone, so there's no need to have a data connection to use it. As well as turn-byturn directions, you can pay to get live traffic information in some countries (this service does require a data connection). An alternative is Navfree GPS UK & ROI (free, iPhone and iPad), which uses the user-generated OpenStreetMap database to guide you. Again, the maps are stored on your phone, so you won't need a data connection for turn-by-turn instructions.

iPad travel guides

Once you've reached your destination, it's time to see the sights, and many of the excellent city guides from Lonely Planet (£3.49, iPhone and iPod touch) have been ported to the iPhone.

With 132 titles to choose from, they encompass regular guides to Valencia and London, a student guide to Birmingham and phrasebooks for a bewildering choice of languages. They're all exhaustive, with advanced planning tips and advice on budgeting, and there's also background and historical information on every destination.

Regular guides and phrase books cost £3.49, audio guides cost £1.79, and sponsored guides are free. Whichever one you choose, supplement it with an augmented reality app such as Wikitude (free, universal). Hold up your iPhone and the landmarks you can see in the view from the rear camera will be overlaid by relevant links to Wikipedia, YouTube, Booking.com and more. Tapping each one brings up a summary and a link to a more comprehensive entry.

Google Earth (free, universal) doesn't boast augmented reality, but it does help you to put everything in context. Zero in on your location and you can see the lay of the land by tilting your device so that you're no longer looking down, but across the landscape.

Google maps

SAT VIEW: Find your bearings with Google Earth and tilt your device to see a side-on view of the map

This is particularly effective if you enable the terrain layer. WeatherPro (£2.39 for iPhone and iPod touch, or £2.99 for WeatherPro for iPad) is more comprehensive than the default iOS weather app, presenting the next seven days' weather as a series of graphs plotting temperatures, wind speed, precipitation, and even the hours of sunlight and when they're expected to fall. All of this helps you to plan not only which day you should head to the beach, but whether you should go in the morning or afternoon.

Weather permitting, you'll no doubt want to boast to those left at home in the rain. Postman (£1.79, iPhone and iPod touch) lets you use your own photos or a grab from Google Maps as the picture on a digital postcard. With your greeting on the front and a message on the back, you can post the results to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or the web, and email them to friends. If you can't get online to send your postcard right away, save it back to your library and send it later on.

Finally, SitOrSquat: Bathroom Finder (free, iPhone and iPod touch) points you to the closest public toilet to your location from its database of 95,000 facilities. Each is reviewed, and you can filter them down to just those that are currently open. Wi-Fi Finder enables you to locate the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot – and gives you directions to get there.

Nik is an Esperanto-speaking, pencil-bothering, manual typewriter fan who also happens to have a soft spot for tech after sufficient years in the business to know what that disk icon on the save button actually means. Never happier than when out in his campervan, coffee in one hand, ebook in the other, listening to the rain on the roof.