[Photo of basaltic arch at the end of Chain of Craters road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.]
When my spouse, my mother-in-law and I were in Hawaii in April, I had my iPhone and my mother-in-law had another type of cell phone.
This was my first actual vacation with cellphones in the party and I have to say they were a mixed blessing. On the plus side, the Google Maps app that came with the iPhone either kept us from getting lost or got us out from being lost a number of times. On Oahu it worked best when combined with the Oahu Map book you can get at the local Costco locations. On the other hand, I couldn’t always get a signal, so there were a few times where we’d just be staring at an electronic map not knowing where we were on it. Sometimes getting a signal didn’t help because in cell triangulation mode, the iPhone lies. Or doesn’t know about doesn’t want to admit to not knowing.
Another great thing about having the iPhone along is that it was easy to find gas stations, restaurants, box stores or other things we needed. Here too, it sometimes “lied” or exaggerated. Like when I asked it for a drugstore and it directed me to a business that was half pharmacy and half wine store. I’m not kidding.
The worst part about travelling with cell phones is the connections back home. About four days into our vacation, my mother-in-law received some news from home that made her very, very angry. Angry enough that I was afraid she was going to have a stroke. It was news that she couldn’t take any meaningful action on from Hawaii, but she held onto it and for about a week afterward, our days were occasionally held hostage to her demands that we be in an area with enough cell coverage to place calls to relatives who could take action on her behalf. Outings had to be planned with an eye to the time zones back home.
On the other hand, my carrying a phone allowed Louise and I to remotely comfort a friend back home who had received some really bad news that she initially wasn’t sure to handle.
Thinking it all through, I’m not sure what advice I’d give to people vacationing. Maybe try to have both. Take your phone with you, but plan at least two or three days of leaving it off except for emergencies.
If you’ve had a vacation flavored by cell phone usage, I’d like to hear about it in comments.