Tech Tip: Siri, Your Tireless Vacation Assistant

Siri being used to do currency conversions

Siri is surprisingly useful for foreign travel, where it can help you to ease the transition between the units used in your home country and those of the countries you’re visiting or supply you with directions from your hotel to a historic site. Of course, you’ll need to have a data connection or be within spitting distance of a Wi-Fi hot spot for Siri to work.

One of the more useful tasks Siri can perform for you for international travel is currency conversions. I’m writing this on a trip where I’ve needed to convert British Pounds, Euros, Danish Kroner, and Icelandic Krona to dollars and vice versa. To get a feeling for how much that Shetland Islands wool sweater costs in dollars, it’s possible to ask Siri “How much is £90 in dollars?” Siri answers in seconds — “That would be $140.28,” essentially telling me that the nice sweater is a bit out of my price range. Likewise, I can ask Siri “How many Danish Kroner is $150?” to get the answer “150 US dollars converts to about 1010.3 Danish Kroner.”

Although I can do the simple kilometers to miles conversion in my brain — just multiply 200 kilometers by 0.6 to get 120 miles — I find the conversion the other way to be a bit more problematic. Not to worry; I can ask Siri “How many kilometers is 14 miles?” to get the snarky response “It’s 22.53 kilometers – that’s the long and short of it.”

So, I was talking to a British friend who mentioned how he lost seven Stone by using his Apple Watch to track calories burned. Since that’s a unit of measure I have absolutely no familiarity with, I excused myself, walked to a quiet place, and asked Siri “How many pounds is seven Stone?” After Siri told me that was 98 pounds, I went back and congratulated my friend on his magnificent weight loss.

Related: Tech Tip: An Easy Way To Avoid Expensive Data Roaming Fees Overseas

As I’ve traveled across six (or is it seven?) time zones back and forth for the past few weeks, it’s been difficult for me to figure out what time it is back at home or at OWC HQ in Woodstock, Ill. Not a problem — I can ask Siri “What time is it at home?” to get the answer “It’s 5:08 AM in Denver” or “What’s the current time in Reykjavik?” for the answer “In Reykjavik, Iceland it’s 10:09 AM”.

For driving trips, Siri will tell you where the nearest gas station (or restaurant) is — just ask “Where’s the nearest gas station?” or “Where’s a good pizza restaurant?” and you’ll get a listing of the closest responses. One very useful question to ask Siri when you’re lost? “Where am I?”, with the followup command “Give me directions home” to point you in the right direction.

There are a number of other useful questions you can ask Siri when you’re away from home. What’s your favorite use of Apple’s digital assistant while on the road? Leave your comments below.

Want to learn more iOS and Mac tricks? Check out the Rocket Yard’s Tech Tips section!