01 Dec Why your phone is your new travel multi-tool
Picture an explorer and what do you see? Chances are, you have the same image in your mind as I do: decked out in khaki, wide-brimmed hat, solid boots and, more importantly, laden down with stuff. Map? Check. Binoculars? Check. Butterfly net and specimen jars? Check, check! You’ve got it all. Now, the only problem is you have to carry all of this as you fight your way up mountains, across rivers and through teeming throngs of other travelers. Travel and discovery may be your passion but your back is aching, you’re dripping with sweat and you keep dropping your specimen jars.
Fortunately, we travelers don’t have to live like this anymore. We are explorers of the digital age. Thanks to modern technology, we travel light but with no fewer tools at our disposal. We just carry an iPhone 6s plus instead of a compass. Here are the reasons why your phone is your new digital multi-tool that you should never be caught without:
That little miracle called Google Maps…
We’ve all been there. You’re wandering around a new city, dreamily watching the crowds, looking at the architecture and generally just enjoying the sights and sounds of a new place. You’re somewhere in the old part of town and the streets are narrow and cobbled. The crooked buildings rise high above you. It’s beautiful and unfamiliar. But all of a sudden you stop and think, “Where exactly am I again?” You’ve been through endless twists and turns and loved every second of it but now it’s getting late and you want to get back to your hostel. If you were an explorer of old, you would undoubtedly be close to tears of frustration by now as you battle with an unfolded map that is also large enough to double as a parachute. But you’re not so you simply take your phone out of your pocket, type in the address and make your way back to a cosy bed for the night.
Information at your fingertips
You’re a new version of the old school adventurer, right? Or at least, you like to think you are. Forget about those specimen jars and test tubes and rusty old dissection kits! They just slow you down. See a plant you like? There’s an app you can download to help you identify it. Ditto animals. If nature is your bag, your trusty iPhone 6s plus has got you covered.
Imagine this scenario…
Once again, you’re meandering about a strange place. No one speaks English and you’re enjoying the sounds of an unfamiliar language washing over you. All of a sudden, those delicious local beers you had with your lunch have caught up with you. There’s not a public bathroom in sight and you don’t know how to communicate with anyone. Yet again, your phone will come to the rescue with a range of translation apps that just keep getting better and better.
On demand entertainment
It’s probably safe to say that almost everyone’s least favourite part of travelling is the vast amount of, well, travelling you have to do. You’ve got to get from A to B somehow and whether it’s by plane, train, car or boat, it’s somehow inevitable that the process will be long, boring and uncomfortable. So, let’s make the most of it. Do you love music or are podcasts more your thing? It doesn’t matter, your phone gives you easy access to plenty of both. Plug in your headphones and relish every second of that twelve hour flight. Seriously.
Maybe I speak from personal experience, but a large part of why I travel is because I like to keep my options open. When you’re travelling, particularly in countries that are unfamiliar to you, plans will inevitably change. It’s incredibly reassuring to know that you can book flights, transport and accommodation from your pocket or get in touch with anyone anywhere in the world if need be.
Last but not least, one more thing that your phone has that will prove invaluable when you travel: your camera! Remember the days when you would go on holiday as a kid and your dad would always have a camera the size of a brick dangling from his neck? Those days are past. Simply pop your phone in the pocket of your shorts and off you go! It might as well be a Swiss Army knife.
The only thing it can’t do is open beer…