Unexpected Ways Your Smartphone Camera Is Your Most Important Travel Accessory

Smartphone Camera

You probably think about your smartphone camera as a convenient way to capture travel memories, but there’s a lot more that you can (and should!) do with your smartphone camera than just capture memories.

A smartphone is one of the most powerful tools that any traveler carries with them, and in addition to doing things like looking up directions or calling for reservations, it can be used to keep records of everything related to your travels, to help protect you or make your trip easier in a number of ways.

Here are a few ideas for how you can use the camera in your smartphone, and what to take photos of to improve your next trip:

  • Inside Your House – Before you leave for a trip, take a few photos of everything inside of your home. Unfortunately many criminals target people when they are traveling, and if there’s a break-in, you’ll have a record of all your possessions for an insurance claim. (And if you’re the type of person who always worries that you forgot to unplug your hair dryer or turn off the stove, you’ll have an easy way to reassure yourself that you took care of everything before you left.)
  • Your Luggage – If your bags get lost, it’s a lot easier to track them down when you have an actual photo of what they looked like, including any identifying marketings, instead of a vague description of “black suitcase with wheels”. Make sure to take photos of any tags that are attached to the bags too, just in case.
  • Everything In Your Luggage – If your bags get lost or stolen, it’s a lot easier to file for an insurance claim if you have a photo of exactly what was inside. This is especially true if you travel with expensive technology, cameras, jewelry, or clothing.
  • Everything In Your Wallet – Take a picture of the contents of your wallet, including the front and back of every credit card, identification card, insurance card, and your passport if you’re traveling internationally. That way, if your wallet gets lost or stolen, it will be a lot easier to remember what was inside, and get them cancelled and replaced.
  • Everyone Traveling With You – Start each day with a group photo! Not only is this a great way to capture a daily memory, but it’s also a great way to remember what everyone looks like (“Jimmy’s wearing an orange shirt!”) if you need to scan a large crowd to find someone if you get separated, of you’re asking security to help with the search.
  • Where You’re Staying – When you check in, whether it’s a hotel room, or especially an Airbnb, take a picture of what the room looked like before you moved in. That way you can easily dispute any damage that existed before you got there.
  • Your Room Number – If you’re in a large hotel, it can be easy to forget what floor or room you’re staying in. To make it easy to remember, just snap a quick pic of the room number when you check-in, and you’ll have an easy way to remember.
  • Your Parked Car – The last thing you want to do when you return from vacation is try to remember if you parked in 129 Red or 192 Blue. Instead, take a photo of your car with the aisle or space number visible, so you can immediately tell exactly where it’s parked.
  • Your Rental Car – Even if you do a walk-around before driving off the lot, you might not notice every chip or scratch, so it’s best to have a record of exactly what the vehicle looked like before you took possession, so that you have evidence in case they try to blame any damage on you. In addition, if you have a photo of the license plate, it will make it easier to do things like fill out a parking pass when you check-in to your hotel.
  • Screenshots Of Digital Information – It’s super convenient to keep things like boarding passes and reservation confirmations on your phone, but if they’re in your email or in your phone’s browser and you end up in a place with weak or no internet, you may not be able to access them quickly or easily. Instead, take a screenshot of anything important, including boarding passes, hotel or rental car reservations, phone numbers for anywhere you plan to visit, maps and directions, etc. so you can access them even if you don’t have a good internet connection.

Unfortunately smartphones are also a popular theft target for criminals when you’re traveling, so it’s a good idea to send a copy of the photos you take to someone you trust, like a friend or family member, whose phone number you have memorized, and who you can call at any time to have them send you a copy of your photos.

You can also put your email address or a friend’s phone number on a sticker that you attach to the outside of your smartphone when you travel, so that if you happen to accidentally leave your phone somewhere, a good samaritan who finds it will have an easy way to get it back to you, even if the battery in your phone has died.

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