Welcome to Gypsy Wednesday!  Every Wednesday, I’ll strive to highlight all the juicy morsels related to travel and beyond.

One night my girlfriend pulled out a Christmas gift to herself – an iPhone.  She began showing me the functionality, flipping through apps, talking excitedly.  Meh – I was unmoved.  A cell phone is a mobile tool that I can use to text, talk, or have close by in case of an emergency.   That’s all.

We dropped the subject and moved on.  The next time I saw her, she extracted it from her coat pocket to demonstrate another new app.  I actually paid attention.  The screen responded to her light touch, “Uh, look at this one, if you’re lost you can use the compass.  Or this wifi finder, in case you want to surf.. ”  At the end of our social outing, I almost snatched her phone and stuffed it down my pants.  An iPhone is the equivalent to electronic masturbation.  My lust for this gadget was cemented.

Why I Love It

The truth?  I seriously get lost easily.  Of course, on this journey I intend to get lost on purpose, but if I end up directionally challenged in Bangkok, a compass could come in handy before I’m ravaged by mangy dogs.  Another reason, my fears about staying linked to the world or friends has run out of steam.  Here is a product that offers me options in a singular device.

Basic iPhone Features

Without even touching upon apps, a basic iPhone 3G exhibits a terrific starter template for the tech-savvy traveler:

  1. Video Camera: I can shoot, edit, and share all from the phone.  Wow!
  2. 3-megapixel camera: My informants tell me the camera lacks a flash, and is not high end, but it could work if my camera suddenly died.
  3. Compass: Ooh, this feature makes me squeal with joy.  It will automatically reorient a map to match the direction I’m facing.
  4. Messages: I can send messages in various forms (text, video, pictures) with the option to send to one or several contacts.
  5. Voice Memos: An audio recorder to capture an observation or interview.  Great for the freelance writer or intrepid journalist.
  6. ipod: Music is a must.  This saves me from carrying 3 devices -  phone, ipod and laptop.  2 out of 3 are decent odds.
  7. SIM Cards: All phones operate with SIM cards nowadays; what makes this potentially special is I can swap out cards during my travels.
  8. Mobile Phone: One complaint with iPhones is the poor reception.  The 2.0.2 software update allegedly addressed bugs.

Cheap or Free Apps that Make Me Swoon

1.  WorkSnug

Will scout all the wifi hotspots in a city, giving you locations and ratings.   Cost – free.

2.  Google Maps

A triple threat.  Google Street View, public transportation options and walking directions adds up to heaven.  Cost – free.

3.  Urbanspoon

If I’m exhausted and want dinner quickly, this app can locate restaurants in my area based on location, cost and food type.  Cost – free.

4.  Tripit Organizer

Since my itinerary is flexible, this app could be a godsend.  Tripit is an advanced itinerary planner boasting integrated maps, local restaurants, driving directions, sightseeing spots, weather, and so on.  The beauty of this app, it can be accessed online, but if you can’t tap a wifi spot, an itinerary is still viewable without one.  Cost – free.

5.  Skype

Free Skype-to-Skype calls based from a wifi zone.  Also, call and text mobile phones by a pay-as-you-go credit.  Cost minus mobile phone access – free.

6.  XE Currency

Unbelievable, there are over 180+ currencies to access with the ability to monitor up to 10 at a time. It’s easy to switch to my base currency as well.  Cost – free.

7.  iTranslate Plus

A universal translator with speed control from text-to-speech.  Cost – $1.99.

Viola, there’s no excuse not to plan a trip today.  You can choose to stay tapped in via technology, or trust in a paper map and guidebook.  Obviously, there are no rules, the iPhone grants a traveler another option to take off, be free, and be connected.

With the release of the iPad today, Apple products continue to vie for my attention.

The iPhone could be my perfect partner.  He won’t talk back, whine, burp, and will immediately respond to my magic fingers.  What more could a gal ask for?

Photos: giglamesh under Creative Commons.