Cell phones are essential for keeping in touch on the road, but even some of the most tech-savvy travelers aren't aware of all that phones can do these days.
All sorts of information is available if you learn a few simple text-messaging tricks. Weather forecasts, flight updates, and even driving directions and language translations are literally right at your fingertips.
The info comes from internet companies Google, Yahoo, and a new outfit called 4INFO. You first punch in a five-digit "short code" for each source. Yahoo's code is 92466, or "yahoo" spelled out on a keypad. Google's is 46646, which is "google" without "e." And just type in 4INFO, or 44636, to get through to 4info. Requests are then made using an easy shorthand.
If you want to find out about the weather, all you do is type in a "w" and a city and state. Send off a text message and you'll get a forecast in less than a minute. The same results come from punching in the letter "w" and a zip code.
It's just as easy to get driving directions, translate words and phrases, and convert from one currency to another. And outside of your cell phone provider's charges, there's no cost for getting information via text message.
The services really come in handy when you're on the move and don't have access to a computer. That is, as long as you're somewhere that gets reception