FIXED: Google Fi: International Mobile Data Enabled But Not Working

If you’re on Google Fi and landed in a another country and turned off Airplane mode and you get no data, try the following (with wifi off so you don’t get confused).

Open the Google Fi App

The app should welcome you to the country you have just landed in. However, it may also say “You’re offline”.

Update Settings

Go to Settings > Network & internet > Mobile network >

  • Ensure “Mobile data” is enabled
  • Ensure “Roaming” is enabled
  • Click “Advanced” and disable “Automatically select network”. You will then see a list of local cellular networks. Some may be G, 3G and LTE. Pick one that works, preferably a faster one.

At this point, you should be able to connect to the internet on your phone.

Tips for Visiting Istanbul

Here’s a custom Google Map with markers of interesting places to visit in Istanbul.

Food

Baklava

Karaköy Güllüoğlu
Karaköy, Rıhtım Cad. Katlı Otopark Altı No: 3-4 Istanbul / Turkey T: +90 212 293 09 10 Google Maps

Carrot Shaped Baklava with Ice Cream

Iskendar Kabab

Sırevi
Alemdar, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey Google Maps

Beef Pide

Guvenc Konyali

Ankara Cad, Hocapaşa Hamamı Sk. No: 4, 34110 Fatih, Turkey Google Maps

Tours

Aya Sofia and Blue Mosque Walking Tour

Grand Bazaar Walking Tour

Galata Bridge – Karakoy Walking Tour

Istiklal Cadessi Walking Tour

Süleymaniye Mosque to Spice Market Walking Tour

Tips for Visiting Orlando, Florida Theme Parks

Weather

  • The summer weather in Orlando appears to be unpredictable with possible hot and sunny mornings followed by torrential thunderstorms in the afternoon.
  • Bring a heavy duty poncho
  • It can rain heavily for 15 to 30 minutes then completely stop at which time activities and attractions will resume. It may be worth it to wait out the rain.

Hotel

  • Extended Stay America on Universal Blvd
    • Location is great next to the heart of the tourist area
    • The rooms are spacious with a king size bed, kitchenette with full-size fridge, sofa and dining table.
    • The bathroom lights are an ugly bright daylight white
    • Bring your own dish sponge
    • Laundry is available on site at a cost of $2.00 per wash and $2.00 per dry
    • wi-fi is weak. You can pay extra for fast wi-fi or just use your phone as a hot spot.
Continue reading Tips for Visiting Orlando, Florida Theme Parks

Create a Custom Google Map with Placemarkers

When traveling, it’s super handy to be able to see a map of just the places you want to visit. This can easily be done with Google Maps. In addition, with Google Maps you can zoom in and out and get directions to each place of interest. Here’s how to create a custom Google Map with your choice of places.

1. Go to maps.google.com and log in
2. Click the hamburger menu icon and then “Your Places”
3. Click the “Maps” tab
3. At the bottom, click “Create Map”
4. In the search bar, enter the name or address of a place then click the search button.
5. Google Maps will place a balloon on the map where the place it along with a description box.
6. In the description box, click “Add to map”

7. Repeat steps 4-6 adding as many locations as you’d like
8. To make it easier to see the location, change the color and details of the base map.

9. To share or embed a map, click the hamburger menu icon and then “Share or embed map”

If you want to make your location markers stand out more, you can change their color and icon, e.g. from default blue to red.

To show routes, click the “Add directions button and then add an address for each location.

Or, click on the Draw a Line button and choose “Add driving route”.

You can then drag the blue route line to follow the paths or roads you want.

To add a picture to each location, click the camera icon. You can upload or add one or more pictures by URL from Google Images.

Simple Trip Planner with Google Docs and Sheets

There are many tools that can help you plan a trip. Sometimes I’d even use Google Calendar. But when I want something that includes additional information such as a table of expenses, links to websites, and pictures, then I use Google Docs with an embedded Google Sheet.

The workflow goes like this:

  1. Create a new Google Doc (or clone the example below)
    In the Google Doc, I use tables to create a 2-column layout with times on the left and details on the right. This makes it easy to read and looks more like an itinerary or agenda view.
  2. Uncheck Print Layout
    If you’re like me, you probably don’t print on paper much anymore. And why would you, when you can just save a copy or view the original version of a doc on your various devices (phone, laptop, etc). Print layout is intended for print so you’ll see gaps between each sheet. This is annoying when you want to just see all of your content as you scroll without any large gaps. To eliminate these gaps, in the View menu, uncheck the “Print Layout” menu item.
  3. Add content
    When it comes to content, I find it helpful to add the following bits of information  
    1. Screenshots of Google Maps showing travel time and path
    2. Links to directions in Google Maps
    3. Photos of destinations, activities, and food
      Google Docs lets you paste images from the clipboard so you can simply take screenshots of pictures on your computer and paste them right into Google Docs
    4. Special notes about each activity
    5. etc
  4. Create a Google Sheet (or clone the example below)
    I use the Google Sheet to list all expenses and easily calculate the total using the sum function.
  5. Embed Google Sheet into Google Doc
    The nice thing about Google Docs and Sheets is you can embed a Google Sheet into your Google Doc and have it updated when you update the Google Sheet. In Google Sheets, you’ll have to hover over the embed and click the “Update” button. Nevertheless, it’s still super useful and may even auto-update if you want long enough, e.g. 5 minutes? To embed a table of costs from Google Sheets, select the table in Google Sheets and then paste it where you want it embedded in your Google Doc.
  6. Publish
    If you want to share your trip plan with others, you can share the Google Doc itself. Or, better yet, since who you share it with won’t need to edit anything, you can publish your Google Doc as a web page so your recipients can just see a clean, simple view of the trip plan.

Below is a hypothetical example.

Links above are viewable only, not editable. You can make a copy and edit your own copy.

Travel Checklist / Tips

Money

  • Use a credit card with no foreign transaction fee
    • Amazon Visa Signature
    • Costco Citi Visa Signature
  • Set a credit card travel notice
  • If you need cash, just withdraw it from the ATM of a big bank. The currency conversion rate is just 3%. However, there are withdrawal limits.
  • Upon arrival, look for an ATM of a big bank at the airport to withdraw cash. The money exchangers will rip you off big time.
  • If you need to exchange cash at the airport, do so after you pass through immigrations near the exit rather than before passing immigrations. There are more options and the rates are cheaper there.
  • Get and set up a currency converter app

Booking Sites

If purchasing plane tickets, buy direct from airlines if the price is not much more expensive. It’ll be much easier to make changes and cancellations by dealing directly with the airline.

Hotels

  • If traveling within the US, consider Extended Stay America. Some nice features of it are
    • on-site laundromat
    • full-size kitchen
    • usually cheaper than regular hotels since house cleaning only comes once a week (daily housekeeping available for extra fee)
    • stable rates
    • unworrisome cancellation policy
    • free wi-fi
    • and more

For all hotels, make sure to notify the hotel if you will be arriving late.

If staying at Extended Stay America for a few days, be sure to bring

  • disposable plates and cups
  • disposable eating utensils
  • napkins
  • mini dish soap
  • dish scrubber

Pre-Departure Planning

  • Get and read a travel guide (Lonely Planet)
  • If travelling internationally, enroll in STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) and register your trip
  • Print a copy of all trip arrangements (plane tickets, hotel reservations) as a backup
  • Download a copy of all travel documents to your phone. You can do this by uploading them all to a folder in Google Drive and then setting the folder to “Available Offline”.
  • Make a Google Doc and Sheet list of
    • places to visit
    • opening hours
    • costs
    • directions
    • etc
      See template
  • Save each place of interest in Google Maps
  • Download Google map of all destinations for offline viewing
  • Download videos, e.g. from YouTube, to watch on plane, in hotel.
  • Check the weather forecast

Carry-On Bag

  • For your carry-on, if you can, just bring a backpack. It can be pointless to bring a carry-on luggage since max weight allowance is so low.
  • Within your carry on backpack, bring a thin, lightweight backpack to put under the plane seat in front of you. This will not take a lot of space and carry your in-air essentials like laptop, munchies, smartphone, earphones, etc.

Munchies

  • Chewy nutrition bars, e.g. Nature Valley Peanut Butter bar
  • Goldfish
  • Sunflower seeds (without the shells) in a zip-loc bag
  • Pringles
  • Beef Jerky + Cheddar Cheese (Costco)
  • Hawaiian Sweet Bread + Nutella + plastic knives
  • Disposable cup in which to put munchies for easy access

Toiletries / Bathroom Accessories

  • Hair dryer
  • Flat iron
  • Argan oil-infused hair smoothener
  • Sunscreen
  • Plug adapters
  • Shampoo
  • Soap
  • Medium towel
  • Wet tissue / Bring fragrant-free wet wipes to wipe the sweat and dirt off your hands and face.

Swimming

  • Swimming shorts
  • Swimming shirt (rash guard)
  • Swimming shoes
  • Swimming socks
  • Swimming hat (Nammu Ex Uv Protective Swim Bandana (black+visor+ear flaps))
  • Swimming goggles (prescription)
  • Eyewear retainer (Chums Original Cotton Standard End Eyewear Retainer, Black)
  • Sunscreen
  • Waterproof watch

Day-to-Day Clothing

  • Cap / hat
  • Visor
  • Sunglasses
  • Columbia thin, waterproof hiking pants
  • Wear shirts designed for hot and humid weather when traveling to hot and humid destinations. Golf clothes usually meet this requirement (PGA Tour Airflux – 100% polyester)
  • Walking shorts (cargo shorts with many pockets are good to hold many things)
  • If you’ll be doing a lot of walking, bring comfortable walking sandals. Test your shoes thoroughly before departing. What may feel comfortable at first may not actually feel comfortable after a few hours of walking. Maybe get a memory foam one, e.g. from Skechers.
  • Pickpocket-proof pants

Gadgets / Electronics

  • Power pack to recharge phone and laptop
  • USB adapters / cables, e.g. USB-C to USB
  • Voltage converter (220 -> 110)
  • Laptop + charger
  • Cell phone + charger
  • Portable digital luggage scale
  • Wired earphones with plane plug adapter
  • Extension cord and power strip (since houses and hotels in many countries don’t have enough outlets where you need them or the outlet is too high above the floor)
  • 3 prong to 2 prong plug adapter
  • Headphone DAC + Amplifier to drown out the ambient noise on the plane and make your music or movie you’re watching sound better. Make sure to also bring an extra 3.5 mm male to male cable. If you have the Fiio Alpen 2,
    • the USB port supports DAC + amplifier
    • the AUX port supports only the amplifier feature

Miscellaneous

  • Bring plastic bags to hold your wet clothes, dirty clothes, etc
  • Scissors
  • Gray duct tape
  • Clear plastic tape
  • Small tape measure

Find the Song You’re Currently Listening to

Recently, I needed to find the name of a French song. Since I don’t speak French and didn’t know how to spell some of the lyrics to do a Google search based on lyrics, I needed a different type of search. Apparently there’s an Android app called Google Sound Search which will listen to any sound and try to find the song information based on a sampling of some of the audio. Surprisingly, it actually worked!

google-sound-search