The Thrifty Traveler: Maximizing Your Smartphone’s Travel Potential

The Thrifty Traveler: Maximizing Your Smartphone’s Travel Potential

By Myscha Theriault, Tribune News Service (TNS)

Many of today’s smartphones provide more computing power and storage space than those of us nearing the age of 50 ever thought we’d see. Factor in improved photography capabilities and longer battery power, and it becomes easy to see why those who aren’t required to travel with more elaborate equipment are choosing to make them their tech item of choice for shorter getaways. Especially with gate security specialists requiring people to power up all devices on a pretty consistent basis. So how does your average person function with one on the road, capturing as many memories as possible while still keeping their device safe and secure?

Sharing: Posting YouTube videos and after-event images is all well and good, but for aging grandparents and other relatives who want to be part of a younger family member’s milestones, new possibilities for live streaming provide the ability to experience things like out-of-town gymnastics competitions and first-time dolphin encounters in real time. A popular phone application for this is Periscope. Easy to use for both the broadcaster and the viewer, this free app allows travelers to share everything from a trip down a ski slope to the winning of a ribbon at the national science fair. Aunt Marge and Grandma Betty can even contribute commentary online from several states away.

Security: Once you’ve incorporated all of the apps and contact data to turn your smartphone into your own personal command center, it becomes even more critical to keep it safe. For travelers who enjoy experiencing local nightlife from the road, having a hands-free way to make this happen can be problematic. Old-fashioned waist packs can ruin the outline of your favorite dancing dress or add unwelcome bulk to a pair of flat-front casual dress pants.

If you prefer regular clothing rather than the specialty travel pieces that come with hidden compartments, one affordable solution is the strap-on storage slots from PortaPocket. Lightweight and easy to pack, they can be worn on your upper thigh under a skirt or strapped to your calf under your dress pants or jeans. While it isn’t necessarily a solution for those times when you want to be snapping photos all night, it is an easy way to tuck it out of site during a trip to the restroom and avoid having to take a pocketbook or backpack onto the dance floor.

Inclement weather and marine activities can also pose a danger to your cellular phone. Considering the number of times we’ve nearly dropped ours in deep water and the amount of cash we just threw down for our two new ones, we decided it was time to search out protective cases that would work for us. The brand we were previously in love with doesn’t make them for the larger style devices we have now, which meant digging around for something that was a bit more universal.

We finally settled on the ones by Voxkin, which only sunk us about $15 a pop. They keep out water, allow the use of head jacks, can be worn around the neck for a photo walking tour and promise the possibility of broadcasting a live snorkeling session from our exotic destination of choice. Truth be told, they are a little clunkier than the ones with which we previously became enamored. However, they seem to do the trick thus far, so we’re going to hit the road with them and see how it goes. If they end up being a bust, there are others on the market to try.

Shooting: Holding out your phone at shoulder height and strolling the streets for a live vacation broadcast is all well and good. For the first five minutes. At that point, you’ll begin to appreciate the amount of time your hair dresser spends in that position every day in a way you never thought possible. That’s when having something to attach your phone to a tripod the same way you do your larger camera will become an instant priority.

Universal smartphone mounts are a simple and affordable solution for single telescoping poles, tripods and even selfie sticks. We snagged ours at a sidewalk kiosk here in the Tampa Bay area for $5, but I have seen them online for as low as $2.50. As far as camera peripherals go, that’s a price point that’s pretty tough to beat. Ours was pressed into service almost immediately from the top of a bridge in Titusville, Fla., when a cargo supply mission for the International Space Station launched from Cape Canaveral.

( founder Myscha Theriault has sold her home, all her furniture and most of her other belongings to travel the world full time with her husband. You can follow her adventures on Twitter via @MyschaTheriault.)

©2015 Myscha Theriault. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Highways Agency via Flickr