Travelling with an iPhone? That’s not real travel!
comment 10 Written by on October 13, 2009 – 10:24 am

iphone.jpgI don’t have an iPhone, or any sort of wifi-enabled mobile phone. It’s not any sort of active protest (more the fact that it’s not really a priority for me and if I had one I’d probably leave it on a bus anyway). However, I admit I quite like that I draw a line at only web-surfing when I’m at home. When I’m out and about, I’m happy to be net-free.

A recent blog on BootsNAll had a dig at flashpackers who travel with too many gadgets:

Traveling without taking local transport carrying laptops and expensive gadgets means that you can’t be as adventurous. Part of the backpacking experience is being able to have the freedom to do what you want when you like. Loading up of technology not only increases the chances of you being targeted by thieves but just makes your traveling experience much less flexible. You’ll spend time worrying about the safety and security of your gadgets rather than just letting go and having fun.

This riled net-savvy travel writer Benji Lanyado, who put forward an interesting counter-argument defending flashpackers on his blog:

Mobile web has revolutionised the way I travel. When I’m at a loose end, I’ll nip into Google Maps and find a cracking local cafe, as recommended by local reviews. If I find something interesting, I can Google it and learn more about it. It enhances my experience. It makes me learn more. It helps me understand the local history better. Which makes striking up a conversation all the easier…

Although I’m very much for “letting go” and taking some time out, Benji puts forward a very good case on the other side too. Although, as he also says, there’s no need to make a cut-and-fine choice.

Or is there? Where do you stand? Any refusers out there? Any wifi addicts?

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10 Responses to “Travelling with an iPhone? That’s not real travel!”

  1. I don’t have one either, despite being practically addicted to the internet and screaming in anguish whenever I don’t have access to my emails for more than six hours.

    I just think how bad I would be if I had the internet all the time. I’d never do anything. And for that reason alone, I’m better off without.

  2. I purposefully took my ’round the world trip without a cell phone to save money and stay disconnected. I knew if I took it to use for emergencies only, I’d soon be buying SIM cards and would slide down a slippery slope.

    However, now that I’m home after 20 months, and the owner of a new Blackberry Curve, I have to say the Google maps function is enough to change my mind about the utility of a smart phone in a world traveler’s pack.

    I first saw a guy demonstrate its accuracy while on the rooftop of an Egytpian cruise ship floating down the Nile River at night, on our way to the next ancient temple. While the Egyptians weren’t keen to keep us posted on our arrival time, my friend was able to estimate it based on GPS.

    The light bulb went on for me at that moment. 🙂

  3. This is the 21st century. I’m traveling to a different place, not a different time.

    I think people romantize travel into something which it is not. You certainly have adventures with an iPhone.

  4. Ha. That’s how I feel. I can’t trust myself with one.

    By Vicky Baker on Oct 13, 2009 | Reply
  5. I travel with some gadgets but don’t have a smart phone just yet. The points Benji has raised are the exact reason I would love to travel with one. It is also very difficult to couchsurf without a phone and having a fancy GPS-enabled one would make meeting up with people a whole lot easier.

    I travel with a laptop but I purposely have a piece of crap so that I won’t worry about leaving it lying around a dorm room as long as I have my hard drive on me.

    The most expensive gadgetry I have is my SLR camera and lenses and, while I am careful with it, I don’t find myself worrying too much about it. If I did though I would be inclined to leave it at home because always worrying about your stuff does put a damper on a trip.

  6. Traveling by plane that’s not real travel… By boat, that’s the real way (as said my my grandpa once). Or fill in any line about any technological change involving travel.

    So yeah, I totally agree with Gary. And yeah, I’ve got an iPhone, and have many sweet memories sitting in the pavement in the late afternoon sun checking my mail/twitter, while the locals popped by for a talk.

  7. What a forward-thinking bunch! Good to hear. Thanks all.

    Really, the two quotes in the piece aren’t opposite sides of the coin. The BootsNAll quote tackles security element of the hardware; Benji’s looking at the general advantages of the internet on-the-hop.

    So, it’s just a case of how much you think the hassle/paranoia of carrying the gear is outweighed by its usefulness.

    So maybe I should also ask: are those of you that do take gadgets with you living in fear the whole time?

    I travel with a laptop and nice camera, and every now and then I get a “shit-is-it-still-where-i-left-it” panic pang. But this lasts no more than five seconds and occurs very infrequently. Not a constant thought looming in my mind, stopping me from having fun. Plus I back up my data and have insurance, so if the worst did happen, well, it’d suck, but I’d get over it.

    And as for iPhones, surely they don’t demand too much extra care than a regular phone? You just use common sense and don’t showcase it in places where you’d be looking for trouble.

    So basically, for me, it’s worth it.

    That said I still like the idea of travelling light and not giving a monkeys about my possessions. So I guess BootsnAll has a point too.

    By Vicky Baker on Oct 13, 2009 | Reply
  8. The title “That’s not real travel!” is a general lead us into making comments title. All travel is real any way you do it, however a person who is going on a vacation after working 14 hours a day for months may want to leave the Iphone at home. If you want to study the culture of the Kabye Tribes in Northern Togo and say you are immersed, leave the think at home.

    I create what I call a Travelers Nest, I have been to 85 countries and traveled perpetually for 11-12 years. I want my personal area where I can do what I want to do. I leave the nest to go visit the country. Inside my nest I have a BlackBerry by Verizon that has global data that goes to 180 countries. I blogged with just the BB in East Africa, while in the Phillippines right now I use an Ethernet Wire in my room.

    Cultural Fatigue comes to a person when they are outside their own culture, if you are going for less than one year, not a big deal. But the … heheheh TRUE Traveler, or hehehe maybe the REAL Traveler, not a tourist will have cultural fatigue. The link I show for my page is an explanation.

    A wise travel will stop using Real, True, and all this realizing the “Prime Directive of Travel” is to enjoy ourselves, not prove something. We must choose our world, not allow others to outline a path on the map to misery.

    I read books on my BlackBerry in East Africa, I could not carry 50 books, I downloaded them from Gutenberg site and read on a MobiReader.

    The type of travel will determine the answer to whether you should carry your SmartPhone.

    Andy Graham of HoboTraveler.com in Bauang, Philippines.

  9. A good discussion… interesting to read.

    I think Vicky’s last line is important, and kind of what I was getting at in my post. Although the BnA post annoyed me with its tone…travelling without a plan can be just as good as travelling without it… but it isn’t black and white.

    Perhaps the best way is the grey way.

    That said, I wrote this reply on my smart phone. 😉

  10. Flashpacking is a newly born trend appeared along with the budget flights.

    In the positive perspective, it is a new, expanding market for hostels (or at least it was before the financial crisis, will see in the near future), on the other hand it could be quicksand if this is just a passing fashion.

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