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It’s the age of the minimalist traveler, and it’s something we definitely take for granted now – just how easy it is to travel light. 

Gone are the days of traveling with bulky paperbacks for entertainment on long plane rides, big cameras and bags of film (do you remember traveling with film?!), and road tripping with an actual atlas (who even knows how to read a map anymore?!). 

Quite amazing to think that all of these things have since been consolidated into one pocket sized device (especially for those of us who actually know what an atlas is!).

That’s right – nowadays you simply hit the road with your smartphone, and you have a camera, map, your banking, plenty of entertainment, and even a translation device. 

Here are 5 things your smartphone can replace during travel … and here’s to traveling light!

5 Things Your Smartphone Can Replace During Travel


Apps that work with inflight wifi phone plane

I remember my first ever long haul flight; Australia to London, and it was only an hour in when the entertainment unit in my chair broke.

These days, that’s no problem, and all you have to do is walk down the aisle of a plane to see how many people are glued to their phones instead of the in-seat TV. But back in 2007 it was a major issue!

As long as you have enough charge to get you through airports and the flight, today our smartphone is everything from a book (even replacing kindles), to TV, and a gaming device. No more bulky paperbacks to weigh down our carry-on.

You can read the latest news, catch up with family and friends, and even stay connected now that many routes are offering in-flight Wi-Fi. 

Want to binge the latest season? Your phone is a streaming device. Want to play at a casino? Your phone is an online gaming portal – you can easily hook up to a $5 minimum deposit casino whether you’re on a plane, bus, train, or tuk tuk!


Opera de Monte Carlo phone RF

While we once traveled with big bulky cameras, and bags full of gear, the latest smartphones nowadays are rivaling most cameras. Even National Geographic has embraced iPhone photography. 

Most of us have become accustomed to using our phones as our primary cameras, and while there will always be limitations, and things you just can’t do with a phone that you can with a Nikon, phone photography is getting increasingly high tech.

And ultimately, the majority of travelers who simply want to capture a moment, tell a cool story, and remember a trip, don’t need more than what a smartphone camera gives. 

As a bonus, you can download editing apps and edit your photos right there while on your trip (especially if you have a portable travel monitor you can hook in), and share them instantly via email or social media. 

With free WiFi now easily accessible throughout most countries, no longer are we terrified of expensive international data charges; phones have also become the mail-man for our modern day postcards – posting photos straight to social media.

Maps / Navigation

Barcelona couple Europe phone RF

What did we possibly do before the Google maps app! 

Where once standing on the sidewalk examining a big paper map would make you stick out as a tourist, and become a big target for scams and theft, now it’s easy to blend right in with the locals, with our phones as a navigator. 

There are limitations here, including battery life; make sure your phone is fully charged before you head out, as heavy app usage does drain the battery, and connectivity, as apps have limited offline functionality

However for the most part, our smartphones have completely replaced the need for traditional maps. You don’t even need to struggle with language any more, stopping locals to ask for directions.

Phones have not only replaced maps while traveling, they’re also now replacing the GPS on road trips, with advanced capabilities like real time traffic / congestion, and not needing to download new country maps. 


Phone pay RF

The COVID-19 pandemic fast tracked our path to becoming a cashless society, but with tap and pay technology being embraced across the world, our smartphones are now starting to replace even cash. 

Which is sad, as the next generation of travelers may miss out on the joy of returning home with foreign currencies, and collecting random, odd coins from different countries!


Phones have connected the world unlike any other piece of technology, and that’s especially true for translation; smashing through the language barrier, we now have access to many different translation apps.

While phones make it easy to translate voice to text, and even have the capability to translate written text, we hope that this ease of access won’t replace the motivation for actual language learning, as this is a truly wonderful way to immerse yourself and authentically connect. 

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 100+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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