The new year is a time of reflection and resolutions. And travelers shouldn’t be any different.
As we start 2018, the avid traveler may be thinking about what they want to do differently this year. This could mean visiting a bucket-list destination, taking advantage of accrued frequent flier miles, or finally signing up for TSA PreCheck.
For those who have yet to make a resolution, we have one suggestion: Resolve to look up from your phone while traveling.
We don't necessarily mean undergoing a complete digital detox. After all, a phone can be a 21st-century traveler’s most useful tool for capturing photos, navigating unknown streets, finding a great restaurant, or even communicating in a foreign language.
However, researchers at the University of Texas recently found that simply looking at a cell phone — even if it’s turned off — decreases our abilities to conduct tasks and recall information. There’s also evidence that taking too many photos may actually interfere with our abilities to recall memories.
And constant exposure to a cell phone screen does more than limit our memories — it could also affect safety.
In the United States, there are more than 1,000 injuries from phone-related distractions every year. Last year, Honolulu made it illegal for pedestrians to text while crossing the street. People around the world have even plummeted to their deaths while attempting to take selfies on their phones. In December, the FBI’s Assistant Director in Charge, Bill Sweeney, asked New Yorkers to “maybe to look up from your phone” in the aftermath of a bombing at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Travelers who rely on smartphones to capture travel shots can keep their devices on airplane mode while out exploring. Or, at the very least, disabling push notifications allows travelers to stay focused on exploration without being interrupted by a “ping.”
After all, to paraphrase Ferris Bueller, life moves pretty fast. If you don’t look up from your phone once in a while, you could miss it.