The iPhone is a Game Changer for Traveling…

Good day,

Today let us discuss the somewhat important matter of travel tools. Please note I’ve never written a played out vanilla guide on “how to pack” because frankly, like most things on this planet “there is no wrong way to do it”. I would like to discuss however what I think is the world’s most dynamic travel tool that will change the way you travel and it’s called the iPhone…

When it comes to travel tools, let me list a few of the most common: alarm clock, notepad, telephone with local sim, computer(mainly just for FB & web surfing), camera, compass, multilingual dictionary, guide book(cringes) and so on… Well guess what? The iPhone has all that AND MORE. If you aren’t writing a blog or doing some type of web work, an iPhone is all you need. Let’s get real here, most travelers you see using the internet are sending emails, checking Facebook and researching their next destination or buying a ticket, right?

You can buy an unlocked iPhone 4 with 8GB of memory for roughly $650US in many parts of the world. How much would that fancy high end camera cost you? What about the lenses? What about carrying them? Are you a photographer or a traveler? Did you know that since December 2010, every photo I’ve taken for this blog has been on the iPhone 4? I urge you NOT to waste your cash on a camera but dump it into the coolest device I can think of in recent memory.

You could also go for an Android or something but the iPhone is the Aston Martin of telephones and it just works so incredibly and has “Mac Store’s” around the world should you have issues. No, I’m not endorsed by Apple or anything, it just changed the way I travel. I never had one because I’m fundamentally “Frugal Frank” and couldn’t justify it until I was carrying a larger higher end camera in Africa and felt like a clown. A friend showed up to a wedding with a new one and I said “you realize you’re not leaving with that, right?”

If you aren’t going to bring a laptop, I suggest you buy a big memory stick and you can copy files from your phone to your memory sticks or external hard-drive in any cafe in the world. The whole point of travel is to be an adventurer, not the mule carrying all the stuff, get that? As a result, if you can get a powerful tool that combines everything in one, you’re laughing.

I will note that you want to make “the world’s best phone” look like a piece of flaming garbage from the outside though. You never want to draw attention to yourself as a source of wealth, let someone else get the attention of the boisterous barracudas while you go about enjoying your time in the coral reef of life, so to speak.

I removed the cover from my iPhone on a trip recently and it was like everyone I already knew started asking me about my phone and getting all curious. Before that, I had a crappy cover for years and NOBODY, EVER asked me about the phone. Notice how from the case it looks like some old beat up piece of junk? That’s what you’re going for. The case I have, I bought in Bangkok at Pantip Plaza for roughly $5US. It has a soft rubber liner that goes into a hard case. Notice there is NO HOLE for the Apple symbol? That’s what you want.

If you’re planning a trip, think long and hard about what you bring and you’ll see that the iPhone is a game changer. I can’t imagine traveling without it now, let’s not forget how cool it is to be waiting somewhere, anywhere and just whip it out and be right in touch with everyone you care about and have access to over 500,000 applications on demand…

Traveling is a lot like life, you want to simplify it not complicate it…

Tips hat,

P.S: Note the missing “T” on my laptop. How often do you use the T?


  1. Rob

    June 5, 2012 at 6:29 am

    Comment from a friend in Facebook…:

    Mike: I think having everyone you know at your fingertips is something of a downside when you’re traveling. When I first went abroad for a long time I had an old black and white phone and felt really liberated, but then I went with my Blackberry smartphone and I felt like I was tied down to it and didn’t appreciate my surroundings because I was too busy reading about what was happening to everyone back home on my newsfeed. There’s definitely a strong argument for going traveling with as little social media/communication as possible.

    Rob: I hear you, you should say that on the blog. That said, I don’t even have a sim chip in mine. I use it as a camera but if I want, it has everything else. I haven’t had a “phone number” in 3 years but do often tune into free wifi whenever possible. Hope you’re doing well, good sir.

    Mike: duly noted! it’s good for taking photos aswell, but even then sometimes I’m too caught up in taking photos that I forget to appreciate things in that time and place… hope you are well also, no doubt we’ll rendezvous soon!

    Rob: Looks like we’re on opposite ends of the spectrum as I need to take photos. That said, often think “i’m not going to capture anything” but be part of the moments instead of peering in. No doubt a rendezvous is order. Tips hatl

  2. Wendy Chernin

    June 5, 2012 at 6:36 am

    I’m obsessed with my iPhone 4s! I have not taken it overseas yet, just the Caribbean so far.

    • Rob

      June 5, 2012 at 6:54 am

      The Caribbean is “overseas” for some. I like the 4S and wanted to upgrade but they would only do a direct model exchange which was cool with me as mine was broken.

  3. Tony

    June 5, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Wow… Travelling with a $650 phone in my backpocket? I would never even concider it! You are going to some of the poorest countries in the world with a device that has all these fancy features and options, which you obviously don’t need.

    For me, travelling is, amongst others, a way to break free from my Western lifestyle and life patterns. I spent almost 3 months in South America without a cellphone, and it gave me an awesome sense of freedom!

    I only cary a point-and-shoot camera ($150-200 because i think photo’s are the best souvenirs) and an mp3-player (because i am a music junky).

    • Rob

      June 5, 2012 at 10:23 am

      Hi Tony,

      I would NEVER consider traveling with a $650 phone in my back pocket either, that would be ridiculous. I put it in my side pocket and it looks even cheaper than your $150-$200 point and click with the casing.

      I hear what you’re saying but it sounds like your plan was to “relax in S. America for 3 months” which is cool but 3 months is like a long vacation. Also depends on what your goals for the trip are… If I went camping in the middle of nowhere it would be ridiculous but most of the time I’m in a connected area and it works wonders for me.

      You’d be shocked how many people I’ve seen walking around third world countries with a $1500 SLR camera around their neck, that’s nuts imo.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Larissa

    June 5, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Changed my traveling game, totally. Especially in terms of travel photography but you know this.

    I have become a huge fan of airplane mode and “wifi off” for the times when I don’t want any distractions because the possibilities for communication can be overwhelming. All those social media apps, emails, games – it gets to be too much! Even when I am not traveling I use it, like right now. Now only if I could get rid of this laptop….

    I’ve never owned one but I think an iPad could be a cool & lighter alternative to a laptop for a blogger or someone doing web work (except for taking photos, seems inconvenient and looks super douche-y, sorry). I don’t know though, maybe it’s just like a big iPhone and not actually worth it? I just like working with a bigger screen because of photos. Can’t wait to upgrade mine to 4s. Or 5 if Apple doesn’t take forever to release it.

    • Rob

      June 5, 2012 at 10:17 am

      Good day,

      I’m always on airplane mode with wifi off to preserve battery and agreed that when you’re connected it’s a non stop “notification station”.

      When it comes to the iPad, I view it as a big iPhone. Both of the devices are primarily geared towards people who consume content, not those who create it. The “old laptop” is going to have to stay for a while, I’m afraid.

  5. Sarah Somewhere

    June 5, 2012 at 10:37 am

    A game changer, for sure. I love having a GPS, it comes in so, so handy for traveling. I’m with you on the cover, not only does it disguise the phone, but offers the best protection – my boyfriend took his out the other day and I was shocked that it looked like a brand new phone!
    I don’t know about iPhone being the Aston Martin though, I’m definitely not going apple next time, there are some pretty amazing phones coming out at the moment with bigger screens, windows etc, so looking forward to that 🙂

    • Rob

      June 5, 2012 at 10:45 am

      I’m curious, if the iPhone is not the Aston Martin, what is? The operating system works so seamlessly that is’ “hassle free”. Windows anything makes me think of having a “blue screen of death” in the coolest location ever. Also bigger isn’t always better, look at the iPad! :]

      Thanks for throwing your $0.02 and I often wonder how long ago my phone would be dead if not for that beloved protective casing.

  6. Europe By Camper

    June 5, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Roaming data can be a bit of a nightmare, especially when you hit Europe. We managed on just 25MB/day for a year (the best Europe Roaming deal available to us in the UK) which while tight was still possible. Opera Mini was a great browser to install.. it compresses web pages server-side so massively reduces your data usage. For that reason we travelled with an oldskool Blackberry. How do you get on for global data usage or do you just hook up to WiFi when you find it?

    • Rob

      June 5, 2012 at 2:15 pm

      Roaming charges are always a nightmare. I remember when I went to Texas and called too many people and got a $175 phone bill, that was excluding the internet. I mentioned in the post an “unlocked” phone so you can use a new sim card in each country.

      In some countries, I get the sim card and use the data plan, most of the time I’m just on airplane mode and use it to take photos or “touch base” whenever I’m at a wifi zone and in the mood.

      Bottom line: If you’re on contract, it sucks and you better keep the phone on airplane.

      Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  7. Rachel

    June 5, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    i am a recent iphone convert and it is SUCH A GAME CHANGER! i agree with everything you’ve said. so many times i have been literally lost (and attempting to catch a train or some other method of public transportation) – and the iphone map has saved me! being solo and lost is NOT fun, especailly in a less safe time, at night, or what have you. having the maps as a safety net has made me much more comfortable!

    • Rob

      June 5, 2012 at 10:26 pm

      Very nice and glad you’re liking it. I have yet to use it for such an egregious occasion but can see how it helped you. Makes me think that perhaps having a sim card wouldn’t be a bad idea, may have been more difficult should you have had to search for wifi first.

      Will note, hope you had a crazy cover if pulling it out late at night when lost!

      Safe travels.

  8. Kyle

    August 26, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    I agree with this exactly rob. I just wrote an article about the iPhone and how it has become my go-to gadget. It literally is the modern day swiss army knife. It allows you to both save money but also precious time and space. With apps the functionality is always extendable and it truly can accomplish most everything i need on the road. It’s true that sometimes travel’s greatest asset is an escape from everything else but a smartphone must also be looked at in how much it can improve your experience.

  9. Rob

    August 27, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    Totally agree and most of the issues with “shutting off” have to do with the user not being able to turn their mind off work mode. If you put the phone in airplane mode or just don’t have a sim you get all sorts of benefits without the constant connection.

    I typically don’t have a sim and just catch up on stuff when I find the next hotspot.

    Thanks for stopping by and adding to the convo, good sir.

    Safe travels.

  10. peter

    October 10, 2012 at 6:29 am

    Where can you get one “pre beat up”? Just had my old 3GS lifted while in Nazca a few days ago from my INSIDE jacket breast pocket. Madness. Anyway, probably a 5 on the way soon but will look for one brutal case now.

    • Rob

      October 10, 2012 at 7:03 pm

      I bought a new iphone 4 off a friend in Dec, 2010. I destroyed it and got a new one for like $100 way past warranty at the Mac store.

      Number 2 is working well.

  11. Jaryd Krause

    March 12, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Mate – awesome blog name, I honestly laughed in agreeance as soon as I read it, cheers for that.
    Now on the I-phone, well certainly a huge game changer in terms of not just travel but everyday life. I found that before I started blogging I could solely use my I-phone, I even told my mate each day on the road that “this is the best invention ever made” because you can basically run your life through this. Every traveler should have this as it can pull you out of the mud (so to speak) in so many sitautions.

    Cheers great blog

    • Rob

      March 13, 2013 at 4:48 am

      Totally agree, can run everything from it. I carry a laptop mainly for the work I do online, usually use an app to even edit photos these days!

      Thanks for the kind words, good sir.

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