June 29 marks 10 years since the iPhone was first released. I know because I looked it up on my iPhone and saved it to my Calendar app. While iPhone may not be your smartphone of choice in 2017, it was your only option in 2007. Even if you’re gearing up to tweet at us from your Android, there’s no denying Apple paved the way for future smartphones. And while the iPhone changed the way we do a lot of things, it’s had an especially big impact on the way we travel.
Did anyone really pack light in 2006? You weren’t ready to go unless you stashed your music player alongside your cell phone, your digital camera, your three-page printout from MapQuest to get to the airport, your boarding pass, your guidebook and your actual reading book. No wonder cargo shorts were a travel fashion staple in the early 00s. Aside from removing the need for all those pockets, let’s take a look at all the ways the iPhone has changed the way we see the world…
Planning a trip
We joke about the perils of planning a trip in a WhatsApp group chat, but before smartphones these conversations were typically had over email chain, or worse, in person. Picture a rowdy group of indecisive people trying to choose dates, a destination and decide on flights without the cool, calming buffer of a phone screen. Sorry, Susan, we already decided on Aruba. If you wanted a say, you should have got here on time. (Someone just lost their place in your MySpace Top 8.)
Sure, a six-way group message can test your patience, especially when the friend whose only contribution so far has been a thumbs up emoji suggests changing the dates at the last minute. But nothing beats the satisfaction of sending that “all booked!” message and marking the occasion with emojis and celebratory GIFs.
Booking a flight
You couldn’t book travel on that old, early 00s Nokia, but you could prop open a door, hold down a whole bunch of paper and reenact classic Zack Morris scenes from “Saved by the Bell.” But just like playing a game of Snake when the titular snake gets a bit unwieldy, some things are just easier when they’re more compact. While you could still book online, the Wi-Fi speeds left something to be desired. Go, pixelated hourglass, go.
There’s not much that makes you feel the power of technology quite like searching for flights on your phone whenever you want. Admit it, nothing adds a little excitement to your morning commute like considering all the other places you could be. Sure, you’ll probably soon be at your desk sifting through emails, but you could book a flight right now and head to the airport instead. Who knows? With apps that let you search flight prices right from your phone (we are partial to the Cheapflights app ourselves), travel is literally at your fingertips whenever and wherever you are. And that’s between you and your iPhone.
Getting to the airport
Order a cab or car service and hope for the best. They said your ride would be out front at 5 a.m. What’s the worst that could happen…
Sure, ordering a cab or car service over the phone still works, but why talk to a human when there are apps on apps for finding a ride? Avoid unnecessary human interaction and never be late to the airport again (OK, that’s probably not true – but it likely won’t be your Uber driver’s fault). Just order up a ride to your Current Location (you don’t even need to know where you are!) and follow along as your ride shows up. Pro tip: Once in the car, give your iPhone a break and let the driver’s iPhone take it from there. And, if you prefer to drive yourself, consider the ease at which your pocket-sized GPS guides you compared to that “Oh-no-I-forgot-to-print-out-the-reverse-directions” dread.
Thank goodness for Hudson News (said no one ever after 2007). But prior to the iPhone, if you’re flight wasn’t equipped with TVs, reading was the way to go. And it’s still a great option, but you can save precious carry-on space and use your phone as an e-reader. In fact, there are apps that will read books to you! (It’s the future.) Embrace this technology and regale generations to come with tales of books made from trees and combining letters to form words.
No seat-back TV? No problem? Sure, laptops existed before 2007 and you could toss a couple DVDs into your carry-on (Netflix started streaming in 2008). But it’s never been easier to BYO entertainment than in a post-iPhone world. Download movies and TV shows to watch offline at 30,000 feet. Prefer to get some Zzzzz? Listen to music, stream some white noise, or simply keep your headphones in to tune out your chatty seatmate who insists on showing you an entire album of photos of their grandkids (probably on their iPhone).
Traveling internationally used to mean new SIM cards and expensive cell phone plans. Now, all you need is an iPhone and a little free Wi-Fi and you’re in business. Contact whoever you want, wherever you want with iPhone-to-iPhone iMessage or free messaging apps like WhatsApp. And it’s not all faceless impersonal communication — you can video chat using your iPhone too. Pretty soon we’ll all be robots anyway, so we may as well get used to it now.
Since the invention of the iPhone, there’s no need to carry that bulky digital camera — your iPhone takes better photos than most devices. And selfie sticks aside, iPhone has made travel photography better. From taking photos on the go to editing images to quickly sharing your photos with friends (and strangers). Some will never know the struggle of waiting for film to develop before you could see your vacay photos. Talk about a #latergram.
And we haven’t even scraped the surface (the uppermost layer of a thing, not that other tablet) on the ways iPhone has changed the travel experience post-flight. Stay in touch with friends and family back home, find destination guides and insider recommendations, connect with other travelers, share your experiences with the world, learn a new language, peep a cheat sheet when you can’t remember what you learned, convert currency and calculate tips, find out it tips are even necessary, book day trips and excursions, take iPhone-guided walking tours, and when you’re waiting at the airport for your flight home, start searching for flights for your next trip on the Cheapflights app.Download the Cheapflights app
Happy 10 years, iPhone, and happy travels, all!