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Reasons to travel without a Smart Phone

Reasons to travel without a Smart Phone

Going ‘old school’ when traveling

It wasn’t too long ago that people had to carry currencies around for all the countries that the intended to visit.  They had maps, phone numbers, phrase books, boarding passes, and anything else that was absolutely essential to life.  The idea of all of those things coming together through a computer was but a figment of the imagination.

I would be crazy if I sat here and told you that there weren’t benefits to traveling overseas with an iPhone or smart phone, but for the purposes of this article, I will challenge you to think otherwise.

Those who know me well know what my thoughts on technology.  Since this is not an article about my thoughts on technology, I won’t make it one.  However, I will give you a few reasons to drop the digital age and go back to your backpacking roots as a nomadic tradesmen. Here are a few reasons to travel without a smart phone.

1.) Smart phones distract you – Yes, they do.  Smart phones distract you from the very trip that you are on.  The other day, I was sitting at a café eating lunch and I saw a group of 5 people at a table.  4 of the 5 people were leaning back scrolling through their phones.  The 5th was eating in silence.  People miss out on conversations and experiences by being glued to their phones.

2.) Smart phones define you – Having a smart phone with you constantly, is almost an immediate indication of where you come from or your social status.  It makes it very difficult to blend in and you will stand out more as a tourist (depending where you are of course).  Sure, iPhones and other smart phones are sold world-wide, but not everyone can afford them.

3.) Smart phones can make you dependent – The problem with having such a convenient and handy device is that over time you can become too dependent.  If something happens to your phone, you may not be able to function without it.  (Life exists outside of technology by the way 🙂 ).  You might have all of your information stored on it, or use it for all of your needs, which isn’t necessarily bad until you don’t have it anymore.

4.) Smart phones are in high demand – Smart phones are in high demand, which means that your smart phone will be valuable to someone else.  There is a good chance that someone on the street will be eyeballing your smart phone.  It can make you a target (likely non-violent of course such as pickpocketing), but smartphones such as iPhones go for a significant amount of money in some places, even when sold illegally.

5.) Smart phones require more attention – Smart phones will require more attention.  You need to keep them charged, respond frequently to updates, and keep worrying about them constantly.  Without it, you’d be able to relax a bit more and focus attention on other things, such as enjoying life.

6.) Smart phones make it too easy – One of my highlights of traveling is the challenge of switching from language to language, culture to culture.  I always get frustrated and exhausted in the moment, but the challenge of traveling is always something that I appreciate after the fact.  The challenge of traveling is part of the journey.  It is what makes us grow.  A worry free trip doesn’t yield growth.  Do you like the challenge of traveling?

I haven’t yet upgraded into the digital world and purchased a smart phone.  I have resisted it for a few reasons.  I realize that smart phones are the ‘in’ thing and most people by now have them.  There are definitely benefits to having your smart phone on a trip, but as I have tried to argue, there are also some downsides.  Anyways, I intended to give you some thoughts about your trip and what to carry. Ultimately, what you decide to travel with is your business.  

Should you travel with a smart phone.  Here is a list of a few travel apps that may be beneficial to you.


What are your thoughts?

Do you travel with a iPhone?  Do you think there are more benefits or downsides to traveling with a smart phone? Do I just need to get with the times?


If you enjoyed my article and think that others will too, please take a moment to connect with me on social media. I’d appreciate it!


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  1. Mark Mayo via Twitter @Marksmayo

    @Bpack_Diplomacy Amazing that an article even needs to exist – unimaginable a few years back. Totally agree with “makes it too easy” theory.

  2. wasnt sure if i should take mine with me, u made the decision easier 🙂 thx

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