It's important to note the safety value of being able to summon a ride to anywhere, rather than hoping that a cab will appear by chance.
Also: Uber announced this week that it will distribute devices called Uber Beacons, which are Uber logo-shaped lights that affix to the window. Passengers can set the color from the Uber app, making it easier to identify the right car. The company said nearly all Uber drivers will have Beacons by the end of next year.
Always keep your phone charged and connected
You can't get an Uber or Lyft, seek out directions, know where you are, make calls, text for help or information or use your apps if your phone is not connected to the Internet or has a dead battery.
That's why you should always carry a Google Fi phone for (cheap, flexible) connectivity and a pocket-size battery pack.
Also: Conserve battery power by turning off location, turning on airplane mode and use low-battery mode when you don't need these features.
Use Maps without a connection
Sometimes you travel outside mobile data coverage areas. You can, however, always have maps, directions, business information and directions. GPS location works directly with satellites, so as long as you have the map on your phone, you can find out where you are and how to get where you're going.
Google enhanced offline maps about a year ago, adding turn-by-turn directions and information about businesses, such as operating hours.
While you still have an Internet connection, open Google Maps on your phone, tap on the three-line "hamburger" menu icon and choose "Offline areas." Choose "Custom area." Pinch, swipe and zoom until the map shows the whole area you'll be traveling in, then tap "Download." Later, if you find yourself without a connection, you'll still have maps, directions and all the rest.
Bonus tip: You can set up multi-stop directions in Google Maps, including walking directions. Inexplicably, however, the app doesn't have a "save" feature for them. One wrong move -- a misdirected tap or swipe on the screen -- and you can lose the directions. To save them, simply share them with anyone via a messaging app from Maps' "More options" menu (this works even if you share without a connection -- the point is to save the directions, not share them). Later, if you lose your directions and don't have a connection, you can bring them back by tapping on the link in your messaging app.
The safest backpack is clothing
I always carry electronics with me while traveling. At a minimum, I carry my battery pack, charging cables, extra smartphone (for the Google Fi hotspot) and my mobile keyboard. Sometimes I carry Google Glass (hey, don't laugh -- how else am I going to take pictures like these?), an iPad, sunglasses and more.
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