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One of the easiest ways to stay occupied while traveling is to watch something on your smartphone. Movies are especially good, as they can help you pass a couple of hours without even realizing.
However, streaming movies can rack up data costs at an incredible rate of knots. And finding Wi-Fi hotspots when traveling can be hard, especially when you’re sitting in a moving vehicle.
Fortunately, some of the leading streaming services offer a solution for this predicament by permitting users to legally download content to watch without an internet connection.
Keep reading to learn about various ways to legally download content to watch offline.
Don’t know which movie to download first? Consult movie reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.
Unarguably the most well-known and largest streaming service, Netflix now lets you download content to watch offline. This feature doesn’t apply to all of the content Netflix offers, but there’s still an enticing assortment of things to watch even when you’re not connected to the internet.
You’ll only see downloadable content when accessing Netflix through its app, not when you’re on the standard website. Look for a symbol that looks like a downward arrow with a line underneath. It indicates downloadable content. Simply click it to start downloading a television show or movie. Fully downloaded content appears in a special section within the app, making it insanely easy to find later.
You can search for content you want to watch by genre or just type keywords into the search box. One of the best things about using Netflix to watch content is the quick transfer speeds. Your experience may vary based on connection details, but most people will be able to download a movie in minutes. Netflix is great for picky viewers since it has such a huge selection of content, including niche material like musicals and stand-up comedy.
Amazon Prime Video
One notable advantage of Amazon Prime is that you can watch every show or film in its collection offline. When browsing through all the options, simply make sure you’ve selected the “Included With Prime” section in the upper left corner. Content appears like tiny movie posters on the screen.
Just hold your mouse pointer over a title you’re interested in to get a snippet about the plot, plus an overall rating among Amazon users. The latter could be particularly useful if you don’t have much time to look through the massive selection but still want to make wise choices. One of Amazon Prime’s strongest advantages is how it offers a wide assortment of new releases and classics, plus plenty of kid-friendly choices.
Lawsuits over the legality of video streaming sites have been an issue for years. For example, in 2009, Universal Music Group sued Veoh, a streaming service. Because of the potential illegality of some streaming sites, people often feel nervous when using them. Since Amazon Prime has so many titles to choose from and is an authorized service, you can download freely and breathe easily.
Keep in mind that Amazon Prime offers streamed and downloadable content along with numerous other membership perks. They include access to Audible audio series, Kindle ebooks, and music tracks, plus free, fast shipping for Prime-eligible Amazon products.
Subscribe to Amazon Prime Video — Android | iOS (Require a $99-per-year Amazon Prime subscription)
Are you looking for a little insight and inspiration during your travel time? Depend on the TED app to fill the void. You can download content for later viewing if you’re on a laptop and plan to take it on your trip. Otherwise, make sure you have the TED app on your device before departure.
TED offers over 2,000 pieces of content to download and includes subtitles for other languages. After finding a talk that seems worthwhile, just click on the red download icon to start transferring the file to your device.
There’s a cool feature that builds customized playlists depending on topics you like and the free time you have. You can also look through a section of most popular TED Talks if you’re having trouble deciding which one to watch. Unlike the other apps featured so far, this one is free, making it a good choice for cost-conscious media content consumption.
Google Play Movies and TV
When using the Google Play Movies & TV app to rent or buy movies and TV shows, you can download the content to watch on up to five devices. Just look for the red checkmark icon and click it to start your download.
You can’t make purchases inside the app, so be sure to buy content before you leave home. Finding content on the Google Play website is fast and fun, thanks to the user-friendly layout. It looks a lot like the Amazon Prime collection and features snapshots of user ratings so you can quickly determine whether you’ve found a must-see film or one worth avoiding at all costs.
Being able to download the content to several devices is good news when you’re traveling with kids and don’t have a backseat DVD player system. Give each kid his or her own device and look forward to hours of whine-free traveling, plus more sanity for parents and kids alike. If you use an iPad instead of Google Play, make sure you know how to download movies onto your iPad too.
Offline viewing hasn’t always been an option on YouTube unless using an unauthorized third-party app. That all changed with the launch of YouTube Red, which offers a lot of original content not found elsewhere.
YouTube Red is a subscription-based service available in certain countries, including the United States, that gives access to millions of ad-free videos and allows people to continue streaming content even while using other apps simultaneously — perfect for tech-savvy people who regularly keep many apps active and open. It permits legal offline viewing, too. And there’s also a special section for kids.
YouTube Red features original content, and you can also create playlists and watch them without an internet connection. The next time you’re stuck at the airport or on a seemingly endless flight, let YouTube Red come to the rescue.
What’s more, your subscription directly supports the people who create YouTube videos. If you have always loved backing independent media and art, using YouTube Red is an awesome way to do so.
You can sign up for the service on Android by going to your account within the YouTube app, accessing Google Payments, and authorizing the subscription. For iOS devices, you can pay for YouTube Red through iTunes. Also, be sure to take advantage of the 30-day free trial.
If you already subscribe to Google Play Music, that subscription includes YouTube Red access. Conversely, once you purchase YouTube Red, you can also access all Google Play Music content for no extra fees. Bonus!
Download YouTube Red — Android | iOS ($12.99 per month after the free trial ends)
Vimeo provides a “watch later” feature that allows you to bookmark videos found on the site so you can watch them at a more convenient time — in this case, when traveling, to prevent boredom. Once you earmark content for later viewing it appears in a special queue for easy access. Adding a video to your queue also notifies its creator you have done so.
Vimeo was the first video streaming site to enable high-definition streaming, and not surprisingly, you can still watch a large chunk of the site’s content in high definition, including content from independent filmmakers and music videos from rising stars. People also love using Vimeo because it’s ad-free and doesn’t require a subscription.
One of the app’s highlights is you can upload content directly through it instead of needing to use a computer. This requires an internet connection, but it’s still a convenient feature if you’re on the go and want to share some of your travel experiences with friends.
Download the Vimeo app — Android | iOS
What Will You Watch First?
Ready to hit the road? Travel-related boredom could be a thing of the past. Whether you subscribe to a service or use some of the suggested apps that offer one-off downloads and free content, it’s easy to get your film fix while traveling thanks to free movie apps.
Though if you’re mixing and matching different services, you may need help keeping track of what you’ve seen.
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