Why having a smartphone is a good idea when travelling
I don’t have a smartphone. I never had one and never thought that I would need one. I have a regular mobile phone that does have some limited internet capabilities, but they are a joke, so I never use them. I liked the fact that I was disconnected from the internet when I was away from my computer. I have a slight addiction to internet, so not having a smartphone seemed like a good idea.
Recently, I was travelling in England for a couple of weeks and I discovered that the world has changed. Most hostels don’t even bother to have a computer available for their guests anymore. They just offer free Wi-Fi and that’s it. Only one hostel had a computer available, but you couldn’t even connect to the internet there, because the connection didn’t work. Actually, the computer itself looked like it will crash if you press any key.
Internet cafés became a rare thing, too. I only found one, and they charged £3 per hour. Worse yet, they kicked me out after 40 minutes, because it was 8.30pm and they were closing. I still had to pay full price. Compare that to the free Wi-Fi in the hostel, which is available 24/7.
Some libraries offer free computer access to anyone. I went to one of them, but they only allow one 30 minute session (per day, I assume). So, the bottom line is that it is a hassle to connect to the internet, if you don’t have a smartphone or a tablet. Of course you could carry a laptop with you, but that is burdensome in it’s own way. My backpack was already too heavy, even though I packed a lot less things than I normally would.
Not being able to connect to the internet can be costly. The train ticket from Salisbury to London costs £38.30, if you buy it at the train station. The same journey can be made for £14–20 (depending on the hour of the day of your train), if you buy the ticket online.
I definitely will get myself a smartphone the next time I go travelling somewhere for an extended period of time. Maybe I will use it only for travelling, and I’ll still use regular mobile phone in everyday life. Who knows. But, the one thing I do know is that technology is changing fast and that old-fashioned infrastructure is no more. Evolve or suffer consequences, your choice.