Lonely Planet Writer

More people would pick their smartphone as their top travel companion than a loved one, says study

When heading out on a trip would you rather bring a friend or your phone? Apparently, 76% of travellers say their top accessory is their smartphone – more than double the number of people who said they’d like to bring a camera or a loved one, according to a new study.

Tourist photographing Cesky Krumlov from above, South Bohemia, Czech Republic.
Tourist photographing Cesky Krumlov from above, South Bohemia, Czech Republic. Image by Alexander Spatari/Getty Images

While that may sound harsh, mobile devices can be pretty useful. The research found 47% of Americans surveyed say their mobile device is their primary way of finding places, events and restaurants while travelling and 40% use their mobile to check the weather while on the road. Only about 13% of travellers say they don’t use the internet at all while travelling. The research comes from Hotels.com Mobile Travel Tracker, which surveyed 9,200 travellers to find out their mobile habits. The most popular thing for people to search for while travelling are restaurants and food markets (71%), beating out tourist attractions (59%), finding maps and directions (56%), scoping out discounts and deals (38%) or finding local beaches (33%).

Sunset Beach Park, O'ahu, Hawaii.
Sunset Beach Park, O’ahu, Hawaii. Image by Marco Pompeo Photography

In fact, being on their phone is more important to some travellers than getting a tan – with the survey stating that Americans will spend on average two-and-a-half hours of a vacation day tanning, compared to three hours on their mobile. Apparently, 6% of travellers will have their smartphone on hand for more than seven hours a day. Perhaps unsurprisingly, when it comes to what apps travellers are using, social media comes out on top, with 60% of American travellers saying the use it while travelling. That’s more than those who use mapping apps, which was only 45%. Hotels.com notes that 50% of travellers said they post pictures on social media to show off and the most used social media channels while travelling are Facebook (77%), Instagram (32%), YouTube (25%), Twitter (24%) and Pinterest (14%).

Social media sites blocked in Tajikistan.
Using Facebook while travelling. Image by Maria Elena / CC BY 2.0

But naturally, Hotels.com didn’t just look at how people use their mobiles while on vacation, the company also found that 43% of people have booked a hotel on mobile – with 27% saying they booked on their mobile while relaxing in bed with their partner, and 10% even admitted to booking a hotel while sitting on the toilet. The report also notes some interesting travel trends, including that the average traveller makes four trips a year. That may be unsurprising, as a recent survey from Priceline.com found that millennials say they need to take at least seven or more trips in a year to be happy.