Using Technology on Vacation

We often go on vacation to “unplug” – to get away from constant emails, phone calls, and text messages. Leaving devices at home may help you to relax.

On the other hand, using certain electronic devices may make your trip easier and more enjoyable.


One of the primary reasons we bring cell phones or computers with us on vacation is so that we can connect with loved ones while we are away. Unfortunately, these same devices connect us with our jobs or businesses and don’t help us “unplug.”

I don’t really know how to advise you about this conflict. If you use separate accounts for family and business, it’s easier to ignore the business emails. If you need to check business emails, as I sometimes do, try to limit your email time as much as possible, so it does not interfere with your vacation.


Internet access, whether through a computer or cell phone, can be a lifesaver when doing travel research on the fly. When my daughter and I arrived at our B&B and found we did not have a room, we were able to quickly search for a new place to stay.

Although I like to plan most of my activities before I leave home, sometimes plans change. Having internet access can  help you find a new activity or reschedule the visit you had planned.

GPS (Global Positioning System) and More

Currently, most cell phones include a mapping program that uses GPS (Google Maps, iMaps). If you look at the map app – even without an internet connection – you will be able to see where you are. However, without this connection, you will not be able to get turn-by-turn directions. Sometimes specific directions are not necessary, but if you are driving in an unfamiliar area, they can be extremely helpful.

On my last couple trips to Europe, my travel companions and I purchased a reusable SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) card for one of our phones. The plan we used was the Orange Holiday card. The card is available in France for €39.99 (about $46 today), and from Amazon for $49.90. Although the SIM card works in several European countries, it cannot be purchased in these other countries. If you are going to France or traveling through Charles de Gaulle airport, you can get the card there. If not, I’d recommend getting it on Amazon before you leave.

The Orange Holiday card is a SIM card that gives you 10 gb of data, 2 hours of phone calls and 1000 texts. The phone with the card inserted can be used as a hot spot, so everyone in your travel group can share the data. The card is valid for 14 days, but can be topped-up if needed. (The prices to top-up vary, but it is common to get half the amount of services for about half the price).

We found the data, phone minutes, and texts to be more than enough for our needs. We did not stream any movies, but rather, used the data somewhat judiciously (and had quite a bit left at the end of the term). The phone minutes were used to make local calls for restaurant reservations that couldn’t be made online.

On both of my recent trips, we rented a car. We relied on Google Maps to get directions for everywhere we went. During one trip, a relative at home had a health emergency and we were able to use the phone minutes to call home. In this case, the technology proved indispensable.

Journal Writing
Guests’ View of my Travel Journal on TravelArk 2.0

I keep a journal on nearly all of my trips – both at home and abroad. On this website, I share details from my journals. I also use the journals to keep in touch with my family and close friends through an app like TravelArk 2.0. The journals make great keepsakes – I enjoy reading about my past trips.

Using the Notes App on my Phone

I have occasionally used my phone to write my journal, but I’d rather use my laptop or tablet – I tend to make more mistakes on my phone. In addition to my phone, then, I need to take along another device. If I don’t need my laptop for business reasons, I choose my tablet, since it is smaller.

An tablet or computer can be used to share pictures to your social media accounts. I enjoy seeing pictures of my friends vacations, but I recommend waiting until you are back home before you share. Unless your account – and your home – is very secure, strangers may be able to see that you are on vacation. This may lead to theft or other problems – not what I would want to find when I got home.

Reading and Knitting

Many of my recent trips involve travel, sightseeing, and other activities. I don’t usually take a vacation where I just sit on a beach or by a pool. For many people, though, this is their dream vacation.

Kindle and iPad

When I do go on a beach or resort vacation, I like to take something along to entertain myself. I often take knitting or books to read. If I’m reading, my tablet is great. I can take a whole library of books and still only carry the equivalent weight of one book. In addition, my library – and probably yours –  lends digital books that can be downloaded to my tablet. This way, I can choose to read what interests me at the time.

If I’m knitting, I save my pattern to my tablet. I can use the highlight feature on the app to save my place in the pattern when I put my knitting away. With the pattern available digitally, I have less chance of losing it.

Technology on Vacation

The point of a vacation is to relax and get away from your usual routine. Although technology is a big part of our business lives at home, it can also be used to make vacations easier and less stressful.

How do you use technology on vacation? Do you “unplug” or are you still tied to some of your devices? Leave your comment below.

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