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The smartphone as a travel tool, redux

A man's gotta know his limitations.
Dirty Harry

I've written about how I use my iPhone as a travel tool before, but I've begun using it as an assistive device even when the travel involves much shorter trips. An assistive device for my memory, that is.

So what do these things have in common?






These are all ways I compensate for a memory that sometimes needs help.

A is a car reservation confirmation. That, along with air, hotel and parking reservations, go in Evernote accesible on the phone, just in case the printouts get forgotten at home or misplaced along the way. B is a copy of theater tickets. Evernoted again for the same reason as the car reservation.

But it is C and D for which I feel particularly clever. I now snap a photo of my hotel room number and my parking ramp level when I go out. It's pretty embarassing having to go to the registration desk at a hotel to admit one does not remember one's room number. And who has the time to spend walking several levels of a parking ramp pushing the unlock button on the key fob hoping to see the lights of one's car flashing?* 

My next photo safari will include the Christmas dinner shopping list to take with me into town today. 

I guess if one is going to be senile, one had better be clever about it.

Any assistive/travel tips you'd like to share related to your phone?


* Oh, I've seen phone-tography (I think I just made that up!) increasingly take the place of note taking in education. Why write down what's on a presenter's slide when you can just take a picture? Ditto for information in a print reference source. Or your classmate's notes.

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Reader Comments (7)

At the airport, I always take a picture of the parking lot shuttle stop I get picked up from, with the number and color coding clearly shown. When I'm bleary-eyed on the return, at least I know which bus to get on to find my car.

December 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim Stahmer

At the ISLMA conference a presenter ran out of handouts. No problem. Everyone just got out their phones and snapped pictures. He also put the web site up on the projector. More pictures. I thought this was so clever. I'm not in that mindset yet, but I'm getting there!

December 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette


Agreed - I have used my trusty iPhone in a very similar manner. In fact, I've also found it to be a tool to increase marital bliss. When at the store getting something that my wife has requested, I'll often snap a photo and send it to her to ensure we are "on the same page" with what I was supposed to purchase. It has saved many an extra trip to Target or Menards.

On a techy side, I used my iPhone video camera to capture footage of a projector that was misbehaving. I sent it to the vendor in order to try to begin the RMA process. Is this another example of your "postliterate" society?

Happy Holidays!


December 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Hillmann

Most of what you shared, I do as well! I do have one comment to your question: "Why write down what's on a presenter's slide when you can just take a picture?" Answer: I remember what I write better than just what I see. I still take handwritten notes at meetings and workshops. I've gotten better at using the iPad (with a keyboard) at conferences, but if I'm not at a table, it's still easier to just jot notes on paper. When I'm done I snap a photo into Evernote and throw away the paper - I'd have lost it anyway!

December 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

Hi Tim,

Now I worry what I will do if I lose my phone!

Happy New Year,


Hi Annette,

My handouts have all been on a wiki (except for a silly card with the wiki URL) for quite awhile. Nobody ever runs out. I'm also seeing more slides with QR code for the handouts.

Happy New Year and thanks for the comment,


Hi Matt,

Taking pictures simply make more sense than trying to describe something, I guess. I have to admit I never sent a photo to my wife about a purchase - but I have called many times asking if we need milk or eggs!

Have a happy new year,


Hi Heather,

I've heard other people say this about taking notes as well. I've also heard it said about doodling. I wonder how many people ever go back and read the contents of the slides they've snapped?

Have a happy holiday,


December 26, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Sorry I'm coming late to the party, but I was on hiatus from professional reading over the break:) When checking in to the hotel, they inevitably ask me my car's license plate number. Thankfully, I now just have a picture of my plate on my phone. I simply pull out my phone and voila! I no longer look like the helpless female who knows nothing about cars, including her own license plate number.

January 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaria Burnham

Hi Doug,
I was amused to find someone else uses their phone to take a photo of where their car is parked. I do it in every multi level car park I park in - then I take a picture of the entry/exit I come out of in the mall or where ever just so I know the best way to leave the place.

This has led to me reducing time in trying to find my car - or even in some cases - reporting it stolen only to have the security guy 'find' it for me on another level.


January 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDianne McKenzie

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