I’m currently in India traveling #iPhoneOnly (OK, I have an Android phone with me, too), in a mission to see if I can exchange a stack of Rupees I had. (Without warning, the Indian government withdrew all 500 and 1000 Rupee notes from circulation about four months ago. They are exchanging old for new, but there are conditions on how you can exchange money). 

I’m traveling light, with just 7kg carry-on luggage for the entire journey, and two smartphones. 

Normally I travel with a MacBook Air and a smartphone. However, I wanted to reduce my luggage weight and to see what it is like traveling with just a smartphone again. 

Also, these days many people seem to travel with just a smartphone, particularly if it’s just a shorter trip. By traveling #iPhoneOnly for a while, I’ll have a far better understanding of the challenges these travelers face.

So far, the experience has been really positive. 

(I’ll write separately about traveling with the new iPhone 7 another time.)

What I’m appreciating is the reduced weight of my bags, and not having to worry about where my laptop is all of the time. And, most travel-related tasks I’d do on my phone anyway.

In terms of the advantages, they’re very similar to those of traveling with an iPad. Here’s how I’m seeing them. 

A smartphone is lightweight, powerful, and these days capable of holding stacks of data.
It also doubles as a device that can function as anything from a portable translator to an entertainment console. I can even download and beam movies from my iPhone or Android directly to the TV in my hotel room.

It’s no wonder phones can now cost more to buy than many portable computers.

What I’m really appreciating though, is just how much iPhone apps have evolved. 

When I first started testing travel apps, many (if not most) were buggy, had limited functionality, and were poorly designed. While many developers whose apps rely upon free-sourced data still struggle, the best iPhone travel apps seem to go from strength to strength. 

Developers of leading travel apps like Google Translate and others have put loads of effort into creating very powerful apps that are simple to use. For example, Google Translate now sports offline language packs that use hardly any storage space on your device. And, at the tap of a button, Google Translate will now suggest (and translate) the character accents on a string of text if the counterparty has left them off. That will give you far more accurate translation.

In summary, many iPhone apps can now do do most of the things that you would do using a similar program on a laptop computer.

That said, the primary disadvantage I’m seeing with traveling #iPhoneOnly is the on-screen keyboard, and trying to do some of the tasks I would normally perform on my MacBook.

I’m writing this post using the WordPress iPhone app. And, without an external keyboard, it is taking forever. (Granted, dictating the text with Siri (or using an external keyboard) would speed up the task a little.)

Also, I brought with me some work for an online course I’m studying. While technically I can do all of the research and writing I’d need to by using apps on my phone, it would easily take me several times as long as doing it on a Mac or PC… so, I’m not even going to try.

Other than that, I’m impressed with how easy it is to travel with just a smartphone, and I will definitely travel this way more frequently in the future.