How to Avoid Letting Your Phone Ruin Your Vacation

For many individuals today, smartphones are changing our brains, providing our first greeting in the morning, and usually playing a role in the last part of our day too. According to a mobile fact sheet study from the Pew Research Center, 96% of Americans own a cellphone, and 81% of those Americans own a smartphone. 

While smartphones and cell phones as a whole offer a variety of benefits, they can also distract from certain experiences such as a vacation. The average American spends more time on their phone than they think, totaling in at an average of 5.4 hours per day. Minimizing the amount of time you spend on your phone can help you unwind and can be essential to getting the most out of a vacation

Preparing your phone for vacation.

In order to prepare your mobile device for a vacation, you need to think about the reasons you are bringing your phone in the first place. If you are relying on the phone for directions, you should be aware of the various car and travel accessories available such as smartphone mounts and car chargers. 

If you are using your phone to minimize the number of carry-on items you bring (e.g. books, laptops, etc.) then you should be sure to download and install any relevant apps, podcasts, movies, or other media before boarding to avoid any data disruptions during the flight. 

Removing distractions.

When you are preparing your phone for vacation and you have determined your reasons for bringing the phone, consider removing all other potential distractions. If you are bringing your phone exclusively to take pictures, remove social media apps. If you are bringing your phone to get around the city, delete mobile games and apps that will take away from immersing yourself in your vacation.

people in a car

Choosing to do a “digital detox”.

If your goal is to relax, reset, and reduce screen time, you should attempt a digital detox. The parameters of a digital detox vary from person to person, but the idea stays the same: being present and in the moment, without mobile distractions. Some ways to perform a digital detox can include:

  • Leaving the phone behind entirely;

  • Avoiding keeping the phone on your person;

  • Turning off notifications, or putting your phone on airplane mode;

  • Incentivizing time away from the phone (particularly for children).

Cell phone manners and etiquette on vacation.

After you have prepped your phone for vacation by eliminating distractions or yourself by digital detoxing, you should remain aware of mobile etiquette and the policies surrounding cell phone manners during the trip.

Creating “tech-free” times and spaces.

Parcel out times - or spaces - that are considered tech-free. For example, using your phone outside the hotel room is prohibited, or using your phone between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. is off-limits. Establishing a set of parameters as to when and where you can use your mobile device should help alleviate any issues surrounding phone use, especially if someone other than yourself is holding you accountable.

Being a courteous phone user.

Even if you choose to use your phone throughout a vacation or in public spheres, it is important to be a courteous phone user. A good rule of thumb is that if your phone conversation can be heard by others, you should think about either moving to a more private area or calling back later. If you must answer in a public sphere, other phone courtesies to consider are:

  • Speaking softly;

  • Avoiding inappropriate language;

  • Steering clear of talking about confidential or private matters;

  • Abstaining from sensitive or controversial topics.

people in a car

Security concerns.

There are two major security concerns with mobile phones on vacations:

  1. Theft: According to a study done by the FCC, 40% of theft in U.S. cities involves cell phones. The article goes on to say that the five most common places where phones are likely to be stolen are in a restaurant, bar/club, place of work, public transportation, or on the street. It is important to know how to keep your phone from being stolen while traveling.

  2. Driving distraction: When you are traveling somewhere that is foreign to you, it becomes even more vital to be completely attentive to the road and eliminate distractions. According to the Insurance Information Institute, cell phone use was the cause of 14% of the 2,935 fatal distraction crashes in 2017.

Considerations for international cell phone use.

Traveling may require more than simply obtaining international travel adapters. When you travel internationally, your phone doesn’t always work as it does from home. You have a few different international travel services to be aware of.

Prepaid phones for international travel.

Prepaid international plans provide the option to purchase a number of minutes prior to traveling that will be used outside of the country. In doing so, you alleviate the need to pay for international calls or texts. International phones function in 230 destinations, so you can take your phone almost anywhere. 

Data usage.

Many choose to use free Wi-Fi when traveling. However, there are various risks with using free Wi-Fi that include:

  • Man-in-the-middle attacks;

  • Unencrypted networks;

  • Malware distribution;

  • Snooping/sniffing;

  • Malicious hotspots.

Others choose to use data roaming, which can result in high charges to your monthly bill. If you are unaware of the amount of data that you regularly use, TravelPass may be a viable option, since it offers daily prices for data in 185 countries.

If you are unable to use your phone internationally — or you are choosing not to — you will want to suspend services until arriving back home in order to avoid any extra charges or waste of data. If your phone is lost or stolen, it is important to suspend services immediately.

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