I’ve just got back from a nice, relaxing week beach holiday, my first for a few years – and while away I was struck by one of those cultural and technological shifts that come along from time to time.
Nobody reads physical books any more. The beach and pool used to be packed with sun worshippers getting stuck into the latest Dan Brown or Jodi Picoult – no longer. I was also reminded of holidays to the Costa del Sol in the 1980s, when British tourists would happily walk two or three sunburnt miles in search of a much-coveted 300 peseta UK newspaper. Today everybody just has a small electronic device in their hands.
Recent research found that 85 percent of people take their smartphones on holiday with them, while 61 percent use social media while traveling. Access to Wi-fi has joined sun, sea and sand in the list of tourists’ top holiday priorities. So perhaps I shouldn’t have been so surprised to see everyone around me tapping and swiping away, playing Angry Birds, reading a novel on their e-reader, watching a TV show, listening to streamed music or just browsing the web. Our smartphones and tablets are now entire life devices, home to our movies, TV, music, podcasts, e-books and, perhaps most pertinently for a holiday, our photos.
So this was where things began to get a bit silly. I appreciate that we’re in the era of the selfie – there are now around 1 million selfies taken daily, with 48 percent of them shared on Facebook, 9 percent on Twitter and 8 percent on Instagram respectively. But do people really leave their basic common sense at home when packing their holiday suitcase?
A combination of a £500 mobile device, slippery sun cream and swimming pool or sea seems to me to be tempting fate. While lounging around with assorted coloured drinks with umbrellas in them last week I saw five separate cases of smartphone or tablet tragedy, its owner either attempting a selfie or simply being so relaxed that they perhaps forgot where they were. Three were people taking photos of themselves in the shallows and dropping their devices into the sea. One was someone wandering along videoing themselves and executing the classic slapstick walk into the swimming pool. The other was a poor chap sitting reading in the pool and his e-reader slipping from his grasp and sinking to the pool’s bottom. Calamities all round. Hope you’ve got adequate travel insurance.
So with these stories in mind, and with the European summer holiday season not far around the corner, perhaps it’s worth thinking about a waterproof case for your mobile device? Cases can be had from as little as £5, a small price to pay to protect your essential device from sun, sea, sand and sinking. Or if you’re a very regular user and want something a little more robust, invest a bit more and get yourself an ultratough waterproof case. It could be the best money you’ve ever spent. Happy holidays.