How my Apple Watch proved the ultimate travel necessity when I spent a week halfway around the world

I already wear my Apple Watch on a daily basis, so why wouldn’t it be strapped on my wrist when I set off for a trip halfway around the world? Better yet, are there ways the Apple Watch can prove essential when I’m navigating a foreign country?

That’s exactly what I attempted to test on a recent trip to Tokyo, Japan. Having never been to the city before, I knew I would need some assistance finding my way around and making the most of my experience. And while my iPhone 15 Pro Max is certainly a great tool for finding restaurants, capturing content throughout the week and more, there are times when turning to my Apple Watch Series 9 proved more convenient. 

For example, while exploring Akihabara, I got separated from my travel mates. (It was my fault — I lost track of time in Big Camera, one of the most incredible technology superstores I’d ever seen. (It’s like a Target on steroids.) My iPhone battery was running low and my hands were full of shopping bags. So, to find my friends, I used my Apple Watch to text them, learn where they landed for lunch and get directions to the restaurant via Apple Maps. Thanks to my watch, I arrived just in time to enjoy a memorable tempura lunch.

To that point, I probably used the Maps app most during my trip. If it wasn’t for turn-by-turn directions navigating the bustling streets of Harajuku, it was figuring out whether the bullet train offered the fastest journey to my next destination, or if I could get there on foot instead.

I also relied on Apple Pay for Apple Watch quite a bit to pay quickly for my bounties at convenience stores. With my hands filled with gummy candy, bottled coffees and unconventionally-flavored potato chips, tilting my wrist to the tap-to-pay terminal was much easier than juggling my phone.

While there were plenty of awesome Apple Watch features and Apple Watch apps that came in handy during my time in Japan, there’s also a feature that’s great for the journey both ways. It’s the one Apple Watch setting you should change before your next flight, but you’ll need to watch the full video on our YouTube channel to find out how it worked for a 13-hour flight. (And if that's not reason enough, I'll spoil that some furry friends make a cameo.) 

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef. 

  • tom2u
    admin said:
    Is the Apple Watch the ultimate travel companion? Here's what happened when I wore it for a week in Tokyo, Japan.

    How my Apple Watch proved the ultimate travel necessity when I spent a week halfway around the world : Read more
    It has some great features to be sure. But I noticed that many of the things you needed to know could have been supplied by the people around you that live there. And yes, many speak basic English in Japan. You would have met many, many more local people this way. One of the best ways of meeting people and getting to know a little about their culture is to be "always lost" so you HAVE to ask. Electronic devices allow us to retreat into our own private world which may seem empowering but just feeds loneliness and isolation. Great if you're a committed incel, not so great if you're mentally balanced. What we should be doing is using electronic devices only when we have to. Plus, Japan has one of the most fascinating and different cultures (compared to the US) on the planet. And it's also very, very advanced. This is something you want to immerse yourself in while there as much as you possibly can. Time is short. Don't waste it shopping, eating and looking at screens. Peer into their minds to understand how they think. It's a very different world over there. You may learn something. And there's few places on the planet better for that than Japan.