“Three objects were considered essential across all participants, cultures and genders: keys, money and mobile phone.”
– Jan Chipchase, Nokia
You might wonder if your smartphone thinks it is smarter than you. But taking pictures is a simple enough task that even the greenest operators get the hang of it quickly. The electrons that go into taking and discarding short-term photos are very cheap. Have you thought about using your smartphone camera as a travel aid?
- Take a picture of your car when you park it at the airport, assuming you can get the nearest location marker in the frame also. Then when you return you have a record of where you left it when the only thing on your mind was getting to your flight.
- If you are using new luggage (don’t laugh now) take a picture of your bag before you check it. That way you won’t have to ask yourself “Was that new bag dark blue or more of a teal?”
- When you rent a car take pictures of its condition before you drive it off the lot. Especially if your phone will store the date and time of your photo this could help you prove that a scratch above the left tail light was there before you got in the driver’s seat.
If you haven’t captured your rental car already you might want to take a picture of your rental car when you leave it in the lot at your first meeting or hotel – just so you can find it again. More than once I have asked myself what color IS that car? Using the key fob to make your car light up (and wave to you) only works when you are rather close to the car. If it’s a really large lot you will want to capture location markers here too.
- Magnetic strip hotel keys no longer have room numbers on them. The little envelope with your room number on it can get lost easily. Taking a picture of that envelope’s notation or of your room door number can help you find your way home after a long day.
- Most of the list above are for reminders which you can discard immediately. One longer-lasting photo I like to take is of the location or town I am entering. After a few days of travel, memories become hazy. Was that mountain range outside of Missoula or Jackson? If you have photo landmarks (“Welcome to Wyoming”) in your collection you can reconstruct the trip. These won’t make the relatives say “Ah!” but they will help you clarify and label pictures later.
- If you are in a country where you do not speak the language well or at all, it can be helpful to photograph landmarks such as the place where everyone is meeting again after lunch. In Nuremberg we heard all the guides telling their groups to meet at the Beautiful Fountain after shopping in the Christmas Markets. It is a beautiful fountain, certainly, protected by an ornate iron fence. But it might have come in handy to have a picture of that so that a lost shopper could ask a passer-by how to get back to that place.
- Getting back to your hotel after a day of exploration can be easier if you ask someone or instruct a cab driver to go to this hotel please (show picture of hotel or address). Taking a hotel business card or notepad with you will accomplish the same thing, and travel apps such as TripCase can keep track of your addresses. But a camera can work in a pinch too.
- One last use you can consider would be taking pictures of your passport photo page. I would not store credit card account or phone numbers on my phone but technophiles among my readers might know how to store sensitive data securely on a phone.
Reports are that more people died taking selfies last year than died from shark attacks – so be careful how you use that camera! What other uses do you have for your phone camera?
Boundaries divide. Travel unites.
8 October 2015