Why you should put down the smartphone on your next holiday

Phones play a huge role in our day-to-day lives. But as useful as they are for maps, translations, photos and killing time during transit, using a smartphone on holiday can sometimes be more hindrance than help.

It’s a letdown when you walk into a Sicilian trattoria known for its great vibe and there are tables of people staring at their phones. Social media updates from home stop you from truly getting lost where you are travelling. The beauty of being somewhere foreign loses its charm when you can instantly look anything up on your phone.

So here’s how to make the most of the convenience of smartphones while you’re on holiday, without letting them get in the way.

Set up your phone specifically for travel

A holiday is an opportunity to get away from normal life. Remove your work email account from your phone so you won’t be tempted to check in. Turning off push notifications will not only save you from being woken up in the middle of the night from random updates, it also reduces the amount of data your phone uses.

When you do reach for your phone, make it count and make sure you don’t rack up roaming fees. Download travel-specific apps that can be used without connectivity, set your phone to plane mode permanently or turn off mobile data. Keep costs for overseas data, calls and text under control by using an Australia Post TravelSIM®. The Trip Advisor app, XE Currency and Google Maps all have some functionality while you’re offline. And just to be safe, make sure your phone security apps are up-to-date too.

Think of your phone as just a phone and limit your app usage. If you need to do anything online, use a computer to access what you normally would using an app. This is a good way to stick to only the necessities and reduce overall screen time during your trip.

Figure out what works for your trip

Holidaying with friends and need to coordinate? Instead of relying on phones, at the start of each day pick a meet up time and location that’s easy to get to regardless of mode of transport. Take it in turns to choose the location and make sure it’s somewhere everyone can get to relatively easily but don’t tell them where until that day. It’s a nice surprise and a great way to explore areas you normally wouldn’t.

If you’re going on holiday to zen out but still want to keep in contact with friends and family, let everyone know when you’ll be available. That way you won’t be hassled while you’re trying to relax. It can be as simple as leaving your phone behind when you head out for the day. One of the simple pleasures of travel is getting lost in a new place and disconnecting is a great way to let go.

One of the simple pleasures of travel is getting lost in a new place and disconnecting is a great way to let go

Get into photography

The more often you pull your phone out to take photos, the more often you’re likely to check emails or scroll through Instagram. If you are using your phone to take photos, put your phone on plane mode. Or instead of relying on your phone to be your camera, take the opportunity to buy or borrow a camera for the trip. Using a separate camera also helps you to resist the temptation of continually updating social media.

Unlike your phone, a proper camera has the benefit of zoom, red-eye reduction and stability settings. Needing to take out a camera each time also helps you to assess the situation and whether you actually need a photo. Sometimes it’s nice to just enjoy the moment without capturing it.

Make a travel notebook

Grab a travel-sized notebook and as you do research, write down everything important and interesting for each location. Writing things down helps you to remember them and when you’re looking up different websites, comparing prices and routes, and asking friends for recommendations, it’s handy to have a way to keep track of everything.

Need to ask a local for directions but don’t speak the language? Get them to draw a quick map in your notebook. Having travel notes also gives you a sense of security and you won’t be left high-and-dry when your phone runs out of battery. Plus, you’ll also have a nice memento of the trip.

Only picking up your phone when you really need to can lead to a rewarding travel experience and a great way to reconnect with your children, friends or family while you’re away.