Traveling Mobile, or Everything That Our Phones Have Replaced

I have a yellow and blue Moto X, with an Audrey Kawasaki Nuvango skin (side note: I love Nuvango, I also have a laptop skin of a beautiful Lawrence Yang painting). Some things I don’t like about it; it could have a better camera and definitely longer battery life. But it’s pretty, fits perfectly in one hand, and is very personal (that’s the big thing about the Moto X).

I’m a klutz and my phone can’t escape that. Yesterday morning I dropped it in the stairwell at my office. Wasn’t too high, maybe a couple of feet? I’m not very tall. This had happened before, nothing to worry about. Except this time was one too many, perhaps, because my phone is now broken. And not a crack in the screen or chip on the edge, but legit broken — screen progressively darkening, menu buttons unresponsive. I’d had it for over a year and its battery life had gone to hell, but still.

Phones have become so integral to our day-to-day lives that it’s very strange to not have one. I am so glad I’m not traveling this weekend! I kept coming up with things that I had gotten used to doing on my phone that I now had to figure out how to handle. Here are some of the things we used to use, in general and while traveling, that our smartphones have now replaced.

Clock

Monday is gonna be rough times, because I don’t have an alarm clock. Hell, I don’t even have an actual clock in my room.

I love that phones can automatically change the time when you’re traveling in a different region or country, and that they can still keep tabs on what time it is at home.

Calendar

Somehow, I’ve gotten to a point in life where I’m actually using calendars. I have a social life! I have a workout plan! I have trips and blog posts scheduled! Throughout the day I probably glance at my calendar at least a dozen times to check on things to do today or in the future. Now I actually have to pull it up on my computer and then remember it.

While traveling, we keep our flight schedules and itineraries on our calendars. You can even make it so Google automatically changes the time zones so that it’s always in local time while you’re in a different country. Simple but super helpful.

Mail

Since the advent of email, snail mail has gone the way of the dodo (except for spam, and, for some reason, government correspondence). I have a work email, which I refuse to check when I’m not at work. I have a personal email, which I can’t check on my office network. With my phone, everything is accessible all at once!

Even when traveling, as long as we have data and wi-fi, we can stay connected. I’m rarely on Facebook now, but when we’re out of town, I use it to let my family know where I’m at and what I’m up to. It’s really awesome to be able to connect with people in different countries as well. With Viber and similar apps, I can meet up with friends without having to get a local phone in their country.

Navigation

I am so stereotypically, directionally challenged that it’s not even funny. Yesterday I got lost in my office building. I’ve worked there for four years! There are only three floors!

Even in a different country, without a data connection, I rely on my phone to get places. Sometimes even with my phone GPS telling me what to do, I still get a little sidetracked. I’ll probably end up in a ditch if I had to figure this all out myself.

Camera

I do own a camera, but I only use it for photos of things that are far away or, in the case of animals, too sensitive to get close to, because the camera has great zoom. Otherwise, it’s my phone all the way. We’ve taken some of our best travel photos on David’s Galaxy S5, and my phone is really good at macro shots. And you can’t beat the convenience! I don’t always remember to bring my camera, even while traveling, but I always have my phone on me.

Fitness Tools

My phone tracks my steps. I have a running app and an app for daily exercise. I also keep a food intolerance diary. Some phones even track heart rate. All on one device!

During this last trip to Europe, David and I logged at least 15,000 steps a day for two weeks; some days we hit 20,000. If 10,000 steps is four miles (people say close to five, but we’ll round down), that’s the equivalent of at least 84 miles during the entire trip. Yep, I ruined a really nice pair of boots, and the calluses took a while to go away. But we had a great time and it’s really cool knowing we traveled so far on our own two feet!

Music Player

It’s so awesome that we don’t have to carry boomboxes around anymore. Our fellow travelers probably appreciate not having to deal with all that. Plus it would really have cut into my one plus one carry-on limit.

Gaming Devices

PSP? Nintendo DS? Who needs ’em, just download a game on iTunes or Google Play. A bunch of them are even free! Keep yourself from boredom when you’re on a 12-hour flight, don’t have your own in-flight entertainment device, and you’d rather imagine your seatmates’ lives than watch the movie being played on the communal screen. True story.

Books

I love the smell and feel of a book, but they do take up a lot of weight, and I just can’t stomach checking a bag when I fly. No need to carry books during that relaxation beach trip. Download some eBooks on the Kindle app or borrow them from the library using OverDrive. Save the space in your luggage for more important things, like all the souvenirs you want to take home.

Calculator

Figuring out how much to tip… yeah everyone’s gone through that. Splitting a dinner bill with your other three friends when one had a margarita and tonight’s special, two others shared an appetizer but the other girl had an extra salad, and someone had to pay extra for the sweet potato fries… out come the phones!


It’s kinda crazy that we rely on one device to do so much. No wonder I’m in withdrawal. Some say that all this technology is making us dumber and it’s making us lazy. How many phone numbers could you actually call, if for example your phone’s battery died and you’re stranded somewhere with some nice stranger who offers you his phone? Do you remember the answer to the last thing you Googled? Do you even recall the last thing you Googled? The human brain is capable of processing so much more data than any machine. We somehow stay upright when we’re walking, without any conscious effort. We auto-pilot while driving but still make it home even if our minds are focused on something else. We have memories that span our lifetimes. We can instinctively calculate what to say to someone based on the arrangement of their facial muscles.

After the initial concern, I realize I don’t actually need my phone. I have a laptop, so I can still check my calendar. I can text from my browser. All my photos and apps are saved in the cloud and the loss of anything that isn’t won’t kill me. As for keeping in touch with people, well, they actually have to commit to meeting me somewhere at a certain time because they can’t get ahold of me otherwise.

And if I were traveling, this weekend, I’d probably have to figure out how to read a map or reach out to people for directions. I might be brave and try a restaurant without checking the reviews first. I may talk to the person next to me on the plane.

I’m glad that a single device has replaced so many things; it feels like we’re becoming more efficient. But it’s also nice to not have it for a while. My new phone is supposed to arrive on Monday. Until then, I’ll play a game on my PS2 and go read a book. I’ll have a BBQ with my friends. It’s going to be nice in Seattle this weekend. I’m going to unplug.

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