New STSM&D (Save Time, Save Money & Delight) Travel Tips

In keeping with the beginning of summer and my mind on an upcoming vacation, I’ve found some good information to help you save time and money when you travel.

Happy trails to you! Read more

How to get free music that you like

I almost cannot believe what Amazon announced recently.

Say good-bye to Pandora, iTunes Radio, Spotify and Google Play, and say hello to Prime Music.

Prime Music is an ad-free, music listening service for Amazon Prime members. If you are already an Amazon Prime member, this is an amazing addition to an already value-filled service.

What is Amazon Prime Music? Like it’s competition, it is user-selected streaming music, sometimes called “internet radio.” From your computer or your mobile device, you select music from playlists, genres, artists, albums or songs that you want to hear by adding them to your Prime Music Library.

Then, whenever you have an internet connection you can play the music on your computer or mobile devices.

Here is the amazing part of Prime Music. You can download for free any or all of the music to your mobile devices that you add to your Library! You do not have to stream the music with an internet connection. It works just like your iTunes playlists except that you don’t have to buy the songs anymore.

If you are already an Amazon Prime member, you were just given a million-plus songs.

If you are not yet an Amazon Prime member, you can start a 30-day free trial, after which you will pay $99 a year for free two-day shipping, movies, TV shows and now music. It is a great value.

There are some drawbacks to Prime Music.

  • Compared to the other streaming music services, they have a very small library. A Buzzfeed article suggested that only songs that have been out at least six months will be eligible. Likewise, the Prime Music library does not have as many artists represented as other services.
  • Prime Music is not as good for music discovery. For instance, Pandora lets you input the genre or artist you’re in the mood for, and then plays similar songs for you. With Amazon, you pick a playlist and see all the songs within that playlist.
  • You can only stream music from one device at a time. If you and a family member share the same Amazon Prime account, only one computer can stream music at any time. If you’ve downloaded music to your smartphone or tablet, you can play from those devices at the same time as a streaming computer.

To get started visit primemusic.com. Download the apps for your computers, smartphones, tablets and Kindle Fire. Select some playlists for your library or create your own and start playing!

iPhone Travel Tips for Europe

I love to travel. Especially to Europe.

Italy. Yum!!!

Preparing for an international trip is much easier these days with the plethora of sites and apps to help you decide where to go, where to stay, how to save money, etc.

Last week, I shared some apps and tips for those travel logistics.

This week I’m focusing on two tips for traveling to Europe:

1) Learning (or re-learning) a language for free

There are many expensive programs you can purchase like Rosetta Stone and Influenz, but they just aren’t fun to use.

I recently started using a free site and app called Duolingo (duolingo.com) and highly recommend it! The lessons are relatively short and include speaking into your device’s microphone.

I especially enjoy using it on my iPhone because I can get a quick lesson done whenever and wherever I have 5 to 10 minutes of downtime.

And to help you translate in a foreign country, I recommend that you download both the Google Translate and Jibbigo apps. You will need Wi-Fi or a data plan to use Google Translate, so be sure use Jibbigo to download offline access for the languages you will need.

2) Using your iPhone in Europe

You can unknowingly spend a lot of money using your cell phone in Europe the way you do in the States unless you plan and prepare before you leave.

This information and my research focuses on ways to avoid paying international fees to your wireless provider.

The first step in cell phone planning is to decide how you want to be able to use your iPhone in Europe.

  • Do you need to be available for incoming calls/texts/email all the time?
  • Or, can you plan your calls/texts/emails for times when you have free Wi-Fi in a hotel or restaurant?
  • If you are sightseeing without a guide, do you want to use GPS for navigation by foot, bike or car?
  • Or, could you download and save maps with free Wi-Fi before you sightsee and use the maps with no navigation assistance?
  • Do you want to be able to access the Internet at any time, or just when you have free Wi-Fi?

This table simplifies the questions to help you see your options.

Calls/Texts Email Downloaded Maps GPS Navigation Internet

Full Access 24/7

 $$  $$    $$  $$

For Emergencies Only

 $  

Only with Free Wi-Fi

         

Full Access 24/7

Of course, the most expensive use of your cell phone in Europe would be to have full access through your cell provider, just like you have in the States.

Other options for 24/7 coverage include:

  • renting or purchasing a European cell phone (won’t be as useful without all your apps)
  • renting a European mobile hotspot (won’t last a whole day between charges)
  • using an unlocked iPhone with a European SIM card (if you have a Verizon iPhone, you can do this!)

For Emergencies Only

You can sign up for a global calling and/or data plan with your cell phone provider, but you will have to be diligent that your settings are correct on your iPhone and that you do not go over the plan you purchased. This is usually where people end up with a big surprising bill when they return.

Only with Free Wi-Fi

By planning ahead and correctly setting up some services, you can do the following for free in Europe wherever you have free Wi-Fi:

  • Access your voicemail messages by setting up a Google Voice number and forwarding calls to that number.
  • Access and send text messages if your cell phone provider offers “cloud texting,” which I know Verizon and AT&T do.
  • Video or voice call your contacts via Skype, Google Hangouts or FaceTime.
  • Call landlines or cell phones in Europe or the US for pennies a minute.
  • Email, search the internet and download maps.

In the past, I’ve written about how to use your iPhone in Europe for free here, here ,here, here and here! It’s a great place for you to start for the preparations and settings you’ll need for spending little or no money on your iPhone and staying connected.

I’ve also put together all the tools and settings you’ll need in one easy-to-follow ebook. If you really want to learn how to use your iPhone for free in Europe, click here.