How the iPhone has changed the way we travel.

This is the first time we are really travelling with the iPhone.  Sure we’ve taken some trips where having the iPhone has come in handy for looking things up on Yelp, of finding quick directions.  But this time around, it is an indispensable part of travels.

Siri may make it Our World of 4.

It’s been a while since we have travelled internationally.  The last time we did was to Vietnam.  Communications was important, but it was not critical.  Today, communication is mandatory and necessary.  But it’s not what you think.  We sort of skipped over the need for international voice calls completely.  When we sat down to figure out our communications needs it was data, text messaging, and voice calling, in that order. With data we could do anything including text messaging and voice calls.  Unfortunately, data is where we are being charged the most so we are still relying on Wi-Fi whenever we can find it.

We both have iPhone 5’s and they have literally changed the way that we travel.  Not always for the better.

One Device Does it All…mostly

With the iPhone, we have a capable camera, a mini-computer, a travel guide and GPS all in the palm of our hand.  Oh yeah, it is a phone too.  While it does not serve all of these tasks 100% perfectly, it does do it well enough.  I am trying to figure out a way for us to completely get rid of our laptop.

OK Camera

As a camera, the iPhone is OK.  There are weird distortions and you virtually no control of anything, but it is good enough for most things we are looking to capture.  Where is shines is I don’t have a 5lb camera hanging around my neck and it’s always in my pocket ready to go.  I prefer to take pictures with it when I can because uploading pictures to Facebook and our blog is so much easier with the iPhone than with any other device.

Mostly Capable Computer

As a computer, the iPhone for me during our travels does fine most days.  There are still those things that I have to pull the laptop out for, but most days I never touch the 11lb monster.  Most of the time, I just need email, browse the Internet, update Facebook, so the iPhone is just fine. It’s amazing to be able to access the Internet anywhere you go.  We’ve talked to Avinash about this and how things have changed in our lifetime.  To get information, we had to go to this thing called a library and look things up.  And we would have to make a list of things we wanted to research so that our trip to the library would be efficient.  No more.  Now, we just pull out the iPhone and within seconds can find anything we need to know.

Travel Guide…Sort of

I wouldn’t really say that the iPhone is our travel guide, it just makes travelling easier.  I don’t need travel books and things like that so I am perfectly happy to look up information on the fly.  Yelp, Trip Advisor, and the map are essential travelling tools.  We use these multiple times a day.  No more thick books, travel brochures, and maps that are a driving hazard.  Just the weight savings alone is priceless.


We haven’t had to rely on the turn-by-turn GPS mapping feature before, but this is the is a game changer.  To be able to have the GPS lady tell me exactly where to turn, when to turn and do so calmly and nicely is absolutely amazing.  And if I miss a turn, she just automatically figures out how to proceed and nicely and calmly tells me the next turn. Mmmmwha, mmmmwha, mmmmwha.  I give you three kisses GPS lady.  Seriously, we just map it, set it, and follow instructions.

The Lazy Travelers

For the most part, having the iPhone has made our experience better, easier, lighter, and much more enjoyable.  There are definitely things that have changed in our travel experience.  The first one is we have become lazy travelers.

In previous travels we had to plan everything in minute detail.  Where were going to go, how we will get there, where we will stay, where we would eat, etc.  Just mapping out the drive from place to place took so much time.

Now, we just do things on the fly.  It’s much more unpredictable, uncertain and sometimes more stressful.  On the flip side, it is more spontaneous, more adventurous, more flexible and for us more fun.  We spend less time planning and more time figuring things out on the fly.  With a 3 year old, being flexible and spontaneous is the best way for us to travel.  The only time it becomes stressful is when we don’t have a connection to the Internet, then it’s a problem…..a big problem.

The Isolated Travelers

One of the most important thing about travelling to me is meeting people.  Whether asking for directions, getting advice on where to eat, finding things to do, you use to have to ask people.  You had no other choice, except maybe guidebooks.  But travel before meant having to interact with people and meeting people along the way.  What I have noticed is that people are buried in their smartphone.  You can always spot the tourists trying to find something with their gazed fixed on their smartphone and their heads held low.  People don’t have to ask for directions anymore, or ask for restaurant recommendations.

While I am by no means the outwardly expressive type, I find this a sad part of technology.  We have in fact, made an effort to go “old school”.  When we can, and when we remember to, we have tried to put the phone away and talk to people to ask for directions or a recommendation.  We’ll try to be more mindful of this and do this more.  It would be sad to not meet all of the wonderful people in the world as we continue our travels.  This may be the most important lesson for Avinash ….. and for us.


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