There are a lot of technical "toys", that can help you to make hitchhiking easier, safer or just collect informations and statistics about your trips. A mobile version of hitchwiki is available at m.hitchwiki.org. You can also use your mobile device to browse hitchwiki.org offline: Hitchwiki:While offline.
Regardless of the iDevice having a GPS fuctionality or not, you can find torrents online of GPS software which you can put on and use simply as maps. This is great because it means you basically know where most gas stations are on your route and don`t make mistakes of getting out too late in the middle of nowhere. Maps of Europe and Middle east are very good from the company IGO. You can also put dictionaries on there and maybe the hitchphrases pdf. You will need a jailbroken iDevice for this. You can also put ebooks for reading whilst waiting long times for a ride. Things such as survival books are useful things to have on there and ebook format means they don't weigh you down.
Most modern mobile phones can surf the internet. This might help you to get information about hitching spots, bus or train connections or even maps. For modern smartphones there are loads of apps available that can display openstreetmap offline data, which is very useful abroad when mobile data costs are high.
Almost all phones produced within the last five years will support java. There are a lot of free Java-Applications that can be useful for hitchhiking.
- Google maps can show you detailed maps and satellite pictures.
- See here how to install it on your phone.
- In some countries, it can also tell you which bus to take to a certain place. This can be extremely helpful to get to a hitching spot in a completely strange city.
- MGMaps supports a lot of different maps. If you have GPS, it can even send your position to a website, so friends or family can see where you are now. This might be a nice security feature, just in case.
Nokia's 770s, N800s and N810 are pretty useful tools with an operating system based on Debian GNU/Linux. Maemo Mapper is pretty good free software. The N810 has a built in GPS device and comes with map software that can download maps for most of Europe, North America and several other countries around the world.
They are available from about 100 EUR on ebay.
A subnotebook, netbook or ultraportable is a class of laptop computers that are smaller and lighter than typical notebooks. Usually approximately 1 kg / 2 lb - so they are easy to carry along.
Some downloadable mapping programs
- Google Earth - You need internet connection with this
- NASA WorldWind - You need internet connection with this
- Ozi Explorer - For offline mapping (you need to buy maps)
Online mapping with computers
With a gps-receiver you can always determine your exact location. This might be useful if you get lost. Some modern phones have a gps built-in. If your phone has bluetooth, you can buy an external dongle, which is almost as good as an internal one. Remember to install maps for your navigator-device if needed.
Also you can have some fun on the road with Geocaching.
- See also GPS devices.
Especially for long-term hitchhiking can be e-book reader useful for killing boredom on spots without traffic. The ones with e-ink display are really comfortable to read and battery lasts several weeks. You can upload hundreds of books, guides, dictionaries etc. The more expensive readers have also mp3 and wifi (battery consumption is quite high when switched on). Depending on the model can be possible to "hack" the device and use various applications (including map software) with restrictions of slow display.
Utility pole coordinates
The Taiwan Power Company grid is an example of a poorman's GPS.
Mobile internet can be expensive, depending on your country and price plan. Mapping or navigating usually just needs a few Kilobytes of traffic. However, in most countries, you can book cheap data packages. Often this even pays off if you just stay for a few days.
- Note that using internet abroad will be much more expensive than in your home country. It might make sense to get a cheap sim card, if you stay in a country for a while.
- Checking a map with Google Maps or MGMaps will need less than 100 KB.
- Sending your position to the internet every 5 minutes will need less that 50 KB per hour.