Deciding whether or not you need to bring a phone backpacking is a question every traveller asks themselves before leaving home. Most people own smartphones now and they are definitely a handy thing to have when you’re travelling so it might be time to invest.
If you’re heading off, you’ll probably want to bring either a laptop or a smartphone with you and unless you’re planning on blogging or taking a lot of pictures, a smartphone could be the better bet for you as they are smaller, lighter and more easy to transport.
The obvious advantage of having a smartphone is that they are… well… smart (duh!). You will generally have access to WIFI in whatever hostel you’re staying in so they are perfect for keeping up to date with emails and make staying in touch with people at home a lot easier, not to mention the cheap international calling rates you can get. Viber and What’s App are two free downloadable apps that allow free calls and messaging to other people with the Apps and can be downloaded onto any Android or iPhone, making free calls from Android has never been easier. As well as that, most smartphones have GPS or some sort of map setting which is perfect if you get lost or are trying to look up an address – it really does make life a lot easier.
Other smartphone apps like SkyScanner, Universal Translator, TripIt and Wifi Finder are handy for travellers to have access to and there are smartphone apps for everything from booking flights to finding the nearest ATM.
Of course, as with anything when you’re travelling, if you’re flashing an expensive phone around, you make yourself more of a target for pickpockets and mugging. Be careful where you keep your phone, especially if you’re using an iPhone and uncool as it sounds, a money belt that you can slip your phone into pretty much eliminates the danger.
Aside from the connectivity benefits, the cameras and music players on smartphones are generally of pretty good quality so you’ll always have your phone handy for taking a few snaps or listening to some tunes of a long bus journey. One word of advice though – think long and hard before buying a Blackberry. The battery life is much better than an iPhone but apps are not as widely available for them and BB data can be a total pain so they might be worth steering clear of.