Out of all of the things that have been infinitely useful to Ross and I on our trip, I would say that my old iPhone 4 which I bought off a friend a few years ago has been the most useful. I might not call a smart phone an essential in travel, as I definitely think that we could get by without them. I would, however, say that they are very useful and make heaps of things way way easier. It occurred to me the other day, just how many times in a given travel day I pull out my good old trusty iPhone to check this or that. Because it has proven to be so useful, I thought I’d share with you a few of the handy things you can do with an old smart phone, or as I literally just made up and like to call them, “wise phones.”
- Take notes! You may not realise just how quickly you will burn through your notebooks while travelling or just how heavy they can be once they start to pile up in your backpack. The notes function on a smart phone is always right there, has unlimited space, is lighter than a feather, and saves a few trees after every hundred notes or so. And trust me, you will be taking notes all the time. You’ll need to jot down phone numbers, names and addresses of couchsurfing hosts or hostels, wifi passwords, flight confirmation numbers, etc, etc, etc. On top of how much space you’ll be saving, you’ll also be able to search through your notes by keyword on most smart phones! No more awkward flipping pages back and forth for ages, trying to find where you left off.
- Take photos! Okay, so you’ll probably have another, nicer camera with you. But when you’re walking down a crowded street, and see something really cool, or you suddenly feel the need to take a cute travel selfie with your travel parter and your camera is way deep down in your bag to keep it safe, you may miss out on a quick snap! The spur-of-the-moment pictures you snap with your phone may not be the ones that you hang on the wall when you get home, but they may be the ones that you cherish the most, the ones that have the funniest stories behind them, and the ones that you revisit again and again when you’re sitting on the train home and missing your adventures.
- Take screenshots! (Of maps!) Screenshots are sort of a combination between notes and pictures. They really come in handy when you need a visual note saved. I’m not really keen on buying a new map in every city that Ross and I travel to. We generally connect to any free wifi we can find, look directions and maps up and screencap them before we go out. Sometimes this doesn’t work, if we venture too far off the map and end up in uncharted territory, but usually we’ve planned enough in advance to avoid that. We also screencap bus times, exchange rates, recipes, language guides, menus, and other useful things like that. This saves us from having to carry around loads of pamphlets, scraps of paper, and books. Much like the notes function, it also probably saves a few trees, which is always a bonus!
- Use Vegan Apps! Within a month of going vegan, my iPhone had a little app category specifically for all my vegan needs. I am not entirely sure which of these are available on other app stores, but all of these definitely work on quite old iPhones and are really helpful! So here are three of the ones that I have and use frequently. My Fitness Pal, while not strictly a vegan app, is a great tool to keep track of your nutrition. You input everything that you eat in a day, the amount of water that you drink, and the exercise that you do and it
gives you data in return. The reason I downloaded it and started using it after going vegan was that it can tell you what your protein and iron intake was for the day. This is really helpful for people who don’t always eat super healthy, new vegans, or vegans like myself who used to have an iron deficiency before going vegan. Is it Vegan? is a wonderful tool for vegans on the go who just don’t have the time to sit and read every ingredient in every unfamiliar product- especially when they’re in an unfamiliar place! You can search for products or use your wise phone’s camera to scan the barcode of an item and the app will give you a list of all the ingredients, separated by whether or not they’re definitely vegan, probably vegan, or not vegan. The app also allows you to choose whether you consider white sugar to be vegan or not so that your results will reflect your choices. Sometimes it freezes up, but although it’s not super reliable it is really really great when it is working smoothly.Cruelty-Free is an app that contains the cruelty-free bunny’s list of products that are not in any way tested on animals. This doesn’t ALWAYS mean that it’s vegan, because sometimes beeswax isn’t considered harmful/non-vegan. So you’ll still have to read the ingredients, but it’s a really good head start!I have loads of other apps, but you can find even more just by searching up “vegan” in whatever application store you use.
- Be entertained on long flights! Books, audiobooks, podcasts, games, music, and magazines are all really great things to keep with you on long-haul flights or bus rides. However, when one is living out of a backpack, one really does not have the space for all of those things. Fortunately, all of them can be put onto a wise phone! I personally listen to Welcome to Nightvale a lot and find that the long flights just zip by.
- Keep in touch! There are so many apps for social media and communication available now. From Skype to Facebook to Whatsapp, you will have so many options for how to call/message home and keep in touch with everyone! If your wise phone happens to be an iPhone, you can also text/call anyone else who has an apple device. Using WiFi to communicate instead of phone cards is really very cost effective, even if you have to pay a little for your WiFi, it usually balances out.
- Do important adult things! This list could go on and on, but I have pancakes to eat and you have other things to do, so I’ll just wrap up by saying that you can use your phone to do responsible things like book hostels, pay bills, check your accounts, check your work emails, use it as a boarding pass, etc, etc, etc. Again, there are lots of other things that you can do with a wise phone. You don’t even need the phone to be old! These are just the things that I do on my old phone every day. I hope you found some of these things helpful and maybe found a few that you never thought of before. Let me know how you like to use technology to make travel go smoother in the comments!
Until next time,