I learned early on in my IT career, you must be willing to change – else you will be left behind. My work as a travel blogger has changed immensely over the last 3 years – in fact – this field moves at light speed sometimes when it comes to everything one must keep up to date on and social media demands are constantly growing. But one of the best changes that I have made in the last 3 years making my life as a travel blogger immensely more manageable is adding a smart phone to my ever-expanding electronics bag. My smart phone is probably the most important key to my efficiency, allowing me to actually still enjoy my work AND travel.
All Great Changes are Preceded by Chaos
I recently made the switch from my old iPhone (which was on its last breath) to a new Samsung Galaxy SIII – and it’s been a great transition for me. Yet I won’t lie – it takes time and patience to change technology and operating systems. It’s taken some SOS calls to my friends who are Android users, combing through online articles and how-tos, and a whole conversation thread in my Facebook group with fellow Navigate Media Group Bloggers. But I stuck with it and I realized that the move was great for me for one simple reason – change is good. Like everything in life – a job, a relationship, or a commute will likely fall into a rut at some point if we don’t force ourselves to get out and explore new ways or new routines. Yes, change is scary – but it’s necessary.
I’ll be the first to admit – I probably didn’t use my old smartphone to it’s full ‘smart’ capacity – and this switch from iPhone to Samsung Galaxy SIII has been a good transition for me – simply because it forces me explore again. I was complacent before – just using the same old stuff on my phone trip after trip. But when you make a big switch – it shakes things up and I started researching new apps and functionality that might very well have been available on my last phone, but I never looked into. So I don’t know if these things were available to my last phone or not – but I don’t really care – all I know is that I can use them now on my Galaxy SIII and that’s what important to me.
Making my Travels Easier
Sure – there’s the obvious things that a smart phone does such as helps me keep on top of email and social media while I’m traveling or out walking around in [insert name of foreign city here!]. In fact I basically use my smart phone to ‘live blog’ my travels most days onto my Facebook page via Instagram. But there are many other features on my Galaxy SIII I have found that specifically make my life on the road easier to manage.
For the thumb challenged
I love smart phones, but I hate typing on them. Pecking away with my big thumbs has never been very effective – but it was a necessary evil. No longer!
Continuous Input keyboard – At first I was skeptical at this ‘Swype’ keyboard feature – a way to type without ever lifting your finger. But once I gave it a try – I was an immediate convert. I used to use the keyboard with my thumbs, and even though I was pretty fast at it – I found it to be exhausting if I had long words or emails to answer. But now my whole outlook of typing on my phone has changed. My typing is quicker and more accurate!
S Voice – If I don’t even feel like swyping I can use S Voice and skip the keyboard all together. So far I’ve mainly been using S Voice for composing text messages, setting my alarm, snoozing my alarm, and checking the weather – but this is just the beginning. So far I find that the more I use it the better it becomes with recognizing me. Soon we’ll be BFF’s I’m sure.
Cameras on smart phones have improved immensely – so much so that with the addition of the Galaxy SIII to my bag – I have completely gotten rid of my point-and-shoot camera. I predict that the point-and-shoot camera is probably on a slow death march into the future to sit next to the Atari machine.
Intelligent Camera (aka taking photos while shooting video) – First of all, the quality of HD video on the phone is excellent but on top of that I am able to easily take photos while I’m recording the video. I used this pretty extensively on my trip to Lana’i where I was able to capture shots right away during filming and send them out on social media. This is great since I knew it would take me a while before I had time to edit and produce the video for sharing.
Take photos by saying cheese – Simply use your voice to shoot a picture…seriously – it doesn’t get any easier. Just say the word “Cheese!” and the camera will understand you and take a shot – great for self-portraits!
Panoramic shooting – I used this extensively in Lana’i. No special app required which means it’s super simple to take the panoramic shot and then share it immediately from your main photo gallery.
Burst shooting and best shot – I never thought we’d get this functionality on a phone – but it’s here. Burst photography is super for action shots. Once on this setting it takes up to 20 shots in an instant and then it can pick the best shot of the group for you to save. No longer do you have to sort through the shots and figure it out yourself. I was skeptical about this at first – but when I tried it out on this waterfall dive – it absolutely picked the best shot of the group…impressive!
Easy Dropbox integration – The GalaxySIII is integrated in with Dropbox which means that every picture or video I take is immediately synced up to my drop box and then easily used on my computer. My life just got way easier when it comes to photo storage and access.
Every day we are moving closer and closer to HAL in 2001 A Space Odyssey and the Galaxy SIII puts the ‘smart’ in smart phone. It has an uncanny way of knowing what to do and how to communicate with you.
Smart Alert – this phone does not have separation anxiety – in fact it’s fine if you walk away from it and leave it in another room or bag for hours. It just happily keeps track of all of your messages or phone calls and when you go to pick it up again it vibrates as you lift it – as if it’s giving you a little nudge – notifying me that I have missed a call or an text message.
Smart Stay – the future is here my friends – this phone has eyes…or at least one eye making it a Cyclopes phone. When you are reading the screen it’s single ‘eye’ actually reads your eyes. As long as they are open and looking at the screen – the display will not dim or go into screen saver mode.
My work is all about efficiency – the more efficient I can be the more margarita’s I can sit around and drink.
Social Tag – It only takes a click to send a photo to a friend. The phone actually will learn who your friends are. When it sees that you’ve taken a picture of one of your friends it will label them and with one simple click on the photo you can send the photo to that friend.
Paperwork efficiency – Since I have no homebase my ‘office’ is pretty simple – it’s my laptop. I often get asked to send scanned copies of receipts or contracts which can be quite problematic and time consuming if you are traveling with no access to printers, scanners, or faxes. With the use of the CamScanner app, I can now take a picture of a receipt/contract and the app will turn it into a pdf and allow me to send it via email all in one easy process. This saves me time…and money!
Some days I yearn for having back the days of my initial career break travels in 2007. At that time, my traveling wasn’t at all considered work – it was instead just the opposite – a break from work. But like everything – change is inevitable and the reality is that my travel has changed into work these days. But the good news is that I love my work! And when technology can fit in my pocket AND can make my work easier then it’s brilliant. It allows me to have more fun, laugh more, and see more…and ultimately record and show you more.
What change have you made that was painful at first but ended up great once you stuck with it? Please share in the comments!
Thanks to Samsung for sponsoring a few of my activities on Lana’i and gifting me a Samsung Galaxy SIII. All views expressed here are my own honest opinions, and do not reflect the views of Samsung.