cracked iphoneI always travel with a laptop and I’m a big believer that technology makes a traveler’s life easier, including the iPhone, but if you don’t have one there are a few advantages you can take away. There are a number of great iPhone apps for travelers it’s true, but some things a beat up old Nokia can do that an iPhone can’t.

Doesn’t Take Hits Well

The iPhone is a well designed piece of hardware that Apple has done its best to make compact and durable. While the stainless steel back well suited to a fall the sensitive touchscreen on the front is easily damaged or destroyed. You’ll have to protect the screen (Invisible Shield is a good option) and likely put it in a protective hard cover for the rest of the iPhone. An basic Nokia might not be able to do much in terms of booking a hotel room like HotelPal, or quickly finding a place to potty like SitOrSquat, but it can be dropped, take a knock, and keep on going.

Expensive Data Plans

Almost every traveler I know who takes their iPhone with them ends up with a very expensive bill their first month or so. That’s because the data plans for the iPhone are costly and you’ll be charged a lot more for roaming. It’s better to turn off the iPhone’s data roaming option when you’re outside of your home area and use the iPhone’s built-in wireless. Use the iPhone version of NetStumbler to find hidden wireless networks (airports and bus stations are a good bet) and make your calls with Skype to avoid outrageous charges.

man horrified

Attractive For Thieves

The iPhone is a sleek piece of equipment that Apple has done an excellent job marketing. It’s one of the most recognizable gadgets in the world which means that you’ll grab the attention of pickpockets along the way. If you don’t have an iPhone and carry around a basic Nokia or other common mobile phone you don’t have to worry that someone may target you specifically for your phone. (Try to uglify your iPhone to keep it undercover if you have one.)

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beware pickpocket

Repairs and Replacements Are Costly

The iPhone lithium-ion battery will give you about 80% of it’s maximum charge after 400 recharge cycles. While Apple will replace a battery if it dies completely (under a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty) you’ll have to send the phone in – something that can be difficult if you’re traveling. iPhone batteries are not something you usually have to worry about for the first 3 years and extended batteries and third party replacement kits are available in case you need them.

Some Other Ways To Make Yourself Feel Better About Traveling Without an iPhone

  • They Take Up Time. Having an iPhone means it’s much harder to disconnect, which can be a good thing or a bad thing at various times.
  • You’ll Rely On The Built-In Camera. iPhone users tend to neglect their digital cameras in favor for a quick shot with the iPhone which has a decent camera but certainly not a replacement for the real thing.
  • You Won’t Stop Fiddling With It. With your eyes peeled to your iPhone you’ll be missing out the scenery around you especially on buses, trains, or wherever else you can distract yourself.

There are some advantages of traveling without an iPhone but even more ways to reduce or eliminate the disadvantages. There are many free and useful iPhone apps for travelers and plenty of others you can install on a jailbroken iPhone (or iPod touch in most cases). For maximum flexibility though you can take both your old beater phone and your iPhone and use as needed.

[photos by: J.Baker, cdresz, Archie McPhee’s Seattle]