10 Things that Make Your Smartphone a Godsend while on Vacation

Article by George Norman (Cybersecurity Editor)

on 17 Aug 2017

I’m going on vacation, yay for me! For the next couple of weeks I am not going to care about software, mobile apps, tech news or reviews. I’m going to a small seaside resort and I plan on doing as little as possible – maybe even less. Sandy beaches and cool refreshing drinks, here I come!

Last year’s tech-free vacation was great, but I’ve come to discover that a smartphone (or tablet) is immensely useful during this time of the year. It comes in handy before, during, even after your summer vacation is over. And to prove my point, I’ve decided to make a list. Check it out below.

1. Decide where to go on vacation

I’m usually adamant about going to the seaside, but this year I thought maybe I should do something else and, for the longest time, I couldn’t decide what to do on vacation. Rent a car and go on a sightseeing trip across the country, go abroad and experience another nation’s culture and cuisine, or go to a seaside resort like I always do? I just couldn’t make up my mind.

During this period of indecisiveness, the missus used her smartphone (and tablet) to look up locations, prices, reviews, and so on. She did all the research work, told me what she uncovered, and we eventually made a decision. All thanks to her trusty smartphone and… her willingness to do the necessary research while I was too "busy" playing video games.

2. Make a list, check it twice

They say that "to err is human," but you know what else perfectly fits that saying? Forgetting stuff! Even if you like to travel light, there’s still a lot of stuff that you need to take with you and you definitely don’t want to leave anything important behind. Like your favorite pair of swim trunks for example.

To make sure that doesn’t happen, I created a checklist on Google Keep and shared it with the wife. Everything that we need to remember, all the bits and pieces that we mustn’t forget to pack, they all went on that list. I can conveniently check and edit the list anytime I want from my smartphone or desktop PC, my wife can easily do the same from her smartphone or tablet. If I’m going to forget something, it’s because it wasn’t on the list.

3. Plan a route to your destination

Living in a busy city makes driving a chore more than anything else. But during my summer vacation, I can finally get out of the city and have an enjoyable driving experience.

I plan on driving to the seaside resort where I’m going to spend my vacation and, thanks to navigation apps like Google Maps or HERE WeGo, I know that I won’t mess up and make a left when I should have made a right. That’s definitely one less thing to worry about.

4. Get help when you’re on the road

If horror movies taught me anything, it’s that lots can happen when you’re on the road. Although you (probably) won’t end up running for your life through the woods, you might face more mundane issues that your smartphone can help with. Like finding a gas station when you’re running low on fuel, finding a rest stop when you’re running low on energy, and finding a YouTube tutorial when you get a flat and realize that you’ve never had to change a tire in your life. Hey, did you know Waze’s latest update for Android introduced the option to ask for roadside help when you have a flat tire?

There’s one other thing that your smartphone can help with: music. All my music is on my smartphone and by connecting it to the car’s audio system I can enjoy all my favorite tracks when I’m on the road.

5. Make sure everything is okay back home

If you can take your pet with you on vacation, that’s great! If not, then you’re probably going to ask a friend to help you out. That’s what the wife has been doing for the past couple of weeks. Several of her friends went on vacation and asked her to take care of their pets. Every day after work she goes and checks on the pets and then she uses Facebook’s Messenger app to let the owners know everything is fine back home and they have nothing to worry about.

Your smartphone comes in handy in another, non pet-related way. If you used something like Samsung SmartThings to turn your home into a smart house, you’ll be notified if there’s a break-in attempt, if there’s a water leak, and more.

6. Check and leave restaurant reviews

You made it to your destination safely, checked in, unpacked your bags, and had a bit of fun in the sun. Now you’re feeling hungry and you want to go eat something. But… where should you go? Your smartphone can tell you what restaurants are around you, which is great. What’s even greater is that you can use it to view all the reviews that a restaurant got over time. After all, the last thing you want when you’re "hangry" is poor service and lousy food.

The same goes for any location that you’re not familiar with. Finding out what other people have to say about a place might just be enough to help you avoid any unpleasantries. You are on vacation after all, and the last thing you want to do is get angry.

7. Snap, snap, snap

There’s no way you’re not going to take a pic or shoot a video while you’re on vacation. Even if you’re a selfie-hating grump like myself, you are going to want something to remember your vacation by.

Unless you really care about photography, chances are that you do not own a camera, not even one of those tiny inexpensive digital ones. But you do own a smartphone, and it’s perfectly suited for the job at hand. It has a powerful camera that you can use to take stunning shots and, since it’s connected to the internet, you can easily share that shot with others.

8. Keep yourself entertained

With all the things it’s replaced, your smartphone is basically one big source of entertainment (that would cost millions if this was 1985). You can use it to listen to music, to watch videos, to read a book, or to play a game. And if you’re a Facebookholic like my wife, there’s no way you’re going to put your smartphone away and go on a tech-free vacation. No way!

9. Check the weather (back home)

Your summer vacation will, inevitably and unfortunately, come to an end and you’ll have to go back home to your job, and pets, and busy gridlocked city. While on vacation, you never needed to check the weather because every day was a sunny "let’s have fun at the beach" day. But now that your vacation is almost over, you might want to check the weather just to make sure you don’t have any "oh crap it’s raining” surprises.

10. Brag about your awesome vacation

Here’s a security tip for you: don’t let everyone know that you’re on vacation. It’s okay to tell your family and close friends that you’re going away, you can even give them your house keys and ask them to go check on things every once in a while. What isn’t okay is publicly sharing this fact all over Facebook and other social networks. It’s like saying "hey burglars, there’s nobody at my home because I’m on vacation."

The best time to publicly brag about your awesome vacation is when you get back home. You can use your smartphone to post all the awesome pics you shot and to let all your friends know what a great time you had. After all, isn’t that what Facebook is for?

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