Lonely Planet Writer

Survey reveals that travellers can't do without their smartphones

We could manage without our laptops and tablets … but the one thing we certainly could not seem to do without when travelling are our mobile phones and digital cameras.

Smartphones now an integral part of the travel experience for most.
Smartphones now an integral part of the travel experience for most. Image by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto/Getty Images

A new survey of holidaymakers has found that smartphones have become an integral part of our travel experience, for snapping photos and videos, getting directions and tourist information, and of course keeping in touch with family and friends.

The research found the overwhelming majority of people, practically everybody in fact, was using technology to improve their holidays.

Smartphones were the most common devices used by 64% of travellers when away, followed not far behind in second place by digital cameras at 61%.

Digital cameras come a close second to smartphones with travellers
Many now use digital cameras to enhance the travel experience Image by martinak15 / CC BY 2.0

Tablets, including iPads and other similar products, were used by only 27% of travellers.

Only one in six (or 17%) regularly used their laptops, suggesting that many associate them with work and are happy to cut that connection when on holidays.

Laptops not so popular with travellers
Most travellers are happy to ditch the laptop while on holidays Image by Daveynin / CC BY 2.0

Steve Koenig of CTA, the company who carried out the research, explained: “[Travellers] now overwhelmingly use technology to enhance their travel – especially when it comes to vacations.

“From research and planning to capturing memories and staying connected with loved ones, technology is now a fundamental travel companion.”

The survey was carried out on American travellers. It also discovered that around half wanted travel experiences customised to their preferences, and that most of them would happily share more personal information to get that.  Travellers were also asked about the things that they most valued from a holiday.  Of those surveyed, 81% – dubbed the “doers” – said they valued new experiences in new places much more than bringing home new possessions.

Around 9%, the “havers” preferred to bring back something nice from their holidays, a memento that they could keep for good. The remaining 10% said they valued both equally.  According to the research, the most valued experience for people going on holidays was getting to spend more time with family and friends (chosen by 40%).

Experiencing new cultures was next most important at 28%, visiting new places scored 22%, while getting involved in adventurous activities was chosen by 14%.