5 years ago

Third of travellers cannot survive on a trip without their mobile

Just how attached are people to their mobile devices, even when they are supposed to be taking time away from the rat race and lying on a beach somewhere?

Quite a lot, would be the simple answer.

A study of over 5,000 travellers in Europe by TripAdvisor (the latest in its now annual study of mobile use) found that 34% “can’t live without” their mobile when a holiday.

Country-by-country, Italian travellers are the most obsessed, with 41% declaring their love of the mobile, while Germany (31%), France (30%), UK (29%) and Spain (26%) are less smitten.

Elsewhere in the study, Germany is leading the way with using a mobile for various travel services. The majority of Germans (54%) are now planning a trip via mobile, compared to 50% in Spain, 37% in Italy, 34% in the UK and 33% in France.

Goodbye traditional cameras, it appears, as three quarters of Spanish travellers are now using their mobile to take and then share photos during a trip.

The other main countries in the study also saw a majority of travellers using their phones for snapping holiday pictures.

But any joy over the opportunities presented by the heady marriage of mobile and travel is often tempered with the harsh reality of using devices in a foreign country.

Indeed, issues around data roaming charges are worrying travellers across Europe and it is now their primary concern when using a mobile device overseas, according to the study.

Around 60% of European travellers turn their data roaming off when they leave their home country, effectively putting an end to any application that requires a live connection and ruling out any web browsing entirely, unless there are wifi hotspots available.

Roughly a third of European travellers admit to being hit by a “unexpectedly large” phone bill when they return home as a result of roaming charges.

NB: Man kissing phone image via Shutterstock.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  4. Stuart McD

    Hey Tim,

    iMessage is free, which I think puts it on par with Crackmail 🙂


    • Timothy O'Neil-Dunne

      Sadly it is not.

      it is not email. it is not even Crackberry Messenger just a glorified text service that you still have to pay for on many plans separately.

      I pay a reasonable rate for someone who is on the road more than 6 months a year. For one month I tracked the cost (data traffic wise) and then had AT&T and TMobile take the data and assess what it would cost for me to roam using email on non-RIM plans. The costs were astronomical. So until someone comes up with a simple push email product for Android or Apple – I am sticking with my crackberry. Not because its the latest or greatest but because it is economically so much better than the others.

      I am not lauding or defending the functionality comparisons of the various devices. I am merely dealing with the hard core cost issues.

      For many who stay within the confines of their own country this should not be a problem. The use of Siri and other wonderful tools for the iPhone also contribute to higher data costs. Much of which is due to bad design and an arrogance on behalf of the designers at Apple, the poor coding skills of many App developers and the greed of the Telcos.

      if we are stupid enough to accept that and keep paying for things we don’t need then we get the system we deserve.

      Now I have to head back to the rowing deck of the slave galley to pay my mobile bills.


      • Stuart McD

        “that you still have to pay for on many plans separately.”

        I don’t. Perhaps you need to change providers.

        I’ve an unlocked iPhone. Costs me about $40 a month prepaid (give or take) here in Bali, and I’m a very heavy mobile web user. Two weeks across two trips to KL recently cost me $15 in total. Four days in Sg about $30 in total. Off to Cambodia next week for a coupla weeks where unlimited internet on a prepaid card should cost me about $10 per month.

        Pay for what you need — if your provider doesn’t give you what you need, look elsewhere – don’t blame Apple for your bad business choices.

        Enjoy your crackberry — and row faster 🙂

        • DonaldS

          A huge chunk of this problem it seems to me, is the almost non-existence of *properly, fully* unlocked devices in the US. That’s what needs solving, IMO.

          An unlocked smartphone is invaluable to anyone who travels a lot with a work (or work-ish) agenda. It costs me peanuts in data fees to drop SIMs in and out as I travel, say, UK, Italy, Croatia, then back home again.

          My phone bills pre- and post-smartphone are pretty much unchanged. Handset costs are a bit higher, though. For ages I paid c. £30 a month on Orange then got whacked for roaming when I went away, even just for making a local call. I now pay £16 a month with Orange and pay zero roaming and a few euros in overseas SIM & calls-plus-data plans. (e.g. this was Italy, last year: http://www.donaldstrachan.com/archive/2011/08/data-plans-for-your-smartphone-or-ipad-in-italy).

  5. Timothy O'Neil-Dunne

    And for all of you iPhone addicts powering Apple’s (and the telcos profits) I hope this is a sobering thought for your mobile cost.

    Just go back and look at your phone bill PRE iphone and then look at it post iphone. (BTW the same can also be said of Android and Windows Mobile systems). If you dont already know you should be shocked at the difference.

    I think that the Telcos are secretly behind the decline of RIM because Crackmail is considerably cheaper (and a fixed rate) than all other mobile email services. its no longer Panem et circenses, its Poma et stultitia.


  6. James Hacon

    I know that feeling – wasn’t till my battery died on a recent trip I realised how dependent I am on technology. I’ve taken to buying local sim cards to avoid roaming charges. Here is NZ whilst there is undoubtedly an increasing number of travellers using mobile technology whilst traveling, the patchy connectivity and high roaming costs puts a lot of demand on WI-FI. Many cities are starting to initiate free wireless schemes and investigating options for wireless Internet access and infrastructure moving forward.

  7. Stuart McD

    Survey sounds way off to me.

    Sent from my iPhone


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