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  • Writer's pictureashley saile

Visiting London Without a Smartphone

Checklist for visiting a foreign country.
Checklist for Visiting London without a Smartphone

On a recent business trip to London, I was amazed how many apps they had to help visitors get around the magnificent city. I didn’t have a lot of personal time to really explore the city, so the next time I visited for personal reasons, I came prepared to explore and find all of the local hot spots for dining, shopping, and of course Afternoon Tea! Finding a Rideshare like Tremp that lets customer call or text to get an UBER or LYFT makes getting around London without a smartphone so easy!

London is an amazing city to live or visit, steeped in rich history, old hotels and of course Harrod’s! Technology has made traveling around the city incredibly easy with apps like:

  • CityMapper

  • London Bus Live Countdown

  • Tube Map

  • Rideshare Apps like: Addison Lee, Uber, Lyft

I used these apps and more, when I traveled for business reasons, as that was my first time in London. On my second go, and probably one of my most favorite vacations to date, I was able to take in the history and traditions that London is famous for.

For a city that is 1,976 years old (yes you read that right!), they have an incredible digital infrastructure that provides digital ease while maintaining old world charm. Want to ride the Thames? There’s actually an UBER Boat Service, through the Uber App to do that! Want to be nostalgic and arrive to your hotel in a classic London taxi? There’s a classic car Rideshare company called Addison Lee App to do that!

But what do these digital advancements require? (No, it’s not tips, UK has different policies on Tips than in America) IT’S AN APP!

According to Pew Research Data, the travelers that most frequently arrive in London are from The U.S., France, and Germany. A large percentage of those travelers own a smartphone and use apps to help them do things around London. Apps makes it easy to find a restaurant for Afternoon Tea, or find a boutique to buy some new clothes, or to find a cab or a bicycle to rent. But for the 15% of Americans who do not own a cellphone, they could be missing out on some fun adventures.

I wanted to put myself in the shoes of those Americans. As a member of the Millennial Generation, I find myself having a love/hate relationship with my smartphone, and often find myself wanting a digital detox (Read More on Digital Minimalism here.) On the one hand smartphones make life so much easier by being able to be connected to so many things at once. The App Store is vast! However, I feel more mentally drained after scrolling for a long time on social media apps, news apps, etc. that I welcome a chance to plug out. Plugging out for a few hours of your day is not as hard as being away from a phone all day. Just the thought of traveling without a phone gave me an intense feeling of anxiety, so much so that I felt a little crazy. Crazy that I became so dependent on something, I forgot basic things like my parents phone number. I still remember a time that I took a road trip by printing out directions and following them, and it didn’t seem that long ago. I decided to put myself back into that time period. It’s the early 2000's and Britney and Justin were still together! I brought back the old albums, and I legit started to feel and remember a world without smartphones. I reminisced about the experience of going to Blockbuster and making the hard choice of bringing home one movie. I remembered the feeling of ordering Netflix dvd’s and waiting with baited breath for the mail to arrive (there was no USPS Informed Delivery back then) . 6-months later, one airplane ticket purchased, and I am on my way to buy a basic phone! I did it! I challenged myself to buy a basic phone, leave my smartphone in NYC, and travel to London for 4 days! I was resolved to succeed overseas without apps or a smartphone.

Let’s talk about a basic phone! Basic phones are really what the name implies here. Basic phones can do basic activities like call, text, some can take video or pictures. These types of phones are gaining popularity within GEN Z and Millenials due to their simplicity. Sales for Nokio have risen 5% last year attributing large sales with flip phones. Basic phones tyically have paired down features that allow basic user operations such as calling, sms, maps, and a paired down version of WhattsApp. They typically do not allow for mobile internet access and definitely no social media platforms. These generations are appreciating a more simple way of life and are finding themselves to be less stressed and anxious due to the shift. Some popular brands of basic phones include: PUNKT MP02, LightPhone 2, Nokia 8210 4G, and Nokia 2720 Flip. I was able to find a Nokia 2780 Flip Phone from an electronic store that was compatible with my carrier.

Here’s What I did to Plan:

  • Prepare to print out important information about your flight, hotel, and transportation options before you leave home! Remember you don’t have access to Google or social media! Creating a checklist will help this!

    • Hotel Reservation/Cancellation Policy/Refund Policy

    • Flight details/Itinerary

    • How will you get around? Research rideshare companies like Tremp, that allows the user to call/text a rideshare through Uber/Lyft without a smartphone or app! Tremp makes it easy by calling 732-479-7080. Call before you leave so you can make sure to setup an account before you even get on your flight! This makes it easy, instead of rushing to do it at baggage claim, where you may not want to share personal details.

    • Create a travel itinerary or use a template from Tremp!

Travel Itinerary with space to handwrite things to plan, essentials to bring, etc.
Travel Itinerary

  • Make sure your phone is set up with contacts! I put the hotel front desk phone number as a new contact in my new basic-phone, and I put Tremp’s Rideshare phone number as a new contact so I could easily make travel plans.

  • Research where I want to visit:

    • I used Google Maps on my home computer to find my friend’s address, look around the area and find different places of interest.

    • Print out maps that will be relevant for your visit, that way you have the confidence to know where you are going

    • Write down a list of priority items! I used Google to find where locals go for Afternoon Tea because I had never partaken in that tradition. Traditional Afternoon Tea is a must when visiting London! I researched many restaurants by looking at reviews, history, and price and decided where I would be eating and enjoying authentic English Tea.

    • On Sundays, Beautiful farmers markets arrive with fresh flowers, food, and first and secondhand goods. In the east district, you will find the Columbia Road Flower Market, and I plan to visit and bring my friend fresh flowers when I visit her flat.

    • I also decided I would visit the Covent Garden, which is an enclosed street market without cars! I could easily see myself meandering from one shop to another, watching street performers as I go.

  • Getting Around

    • As mentioned earlier, London makes it easy to get around with smartphones. I had to ensure that I would be able to get around easily since I was planning on visiting both the west and east districts which are too far for me to walk. I also had to get back to my hotel which would be located in the central district of London.

    • In order to reduce my anxiety I printed out a map of London and marked each destination, so I knew where I would be going. Best Treasure Map Ever!

    • I decided to use a Rideshare, to easily get from market to hotel to tea. Since I was using a basic phone, Tremp would be perfect because I could call them up and schedule the ride. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

The flight leaves in two days and I feel….Prepared. I didn’t think I would feel this way, instead I pictured myself in a total Home Alone moment. Bags are packed, the basic- phone Is loaded with contacts for the trip, and I have maps and confirmations galore. I treated myself to a leather accordion file organizer with 13 pockets, and I can’t wait to take it out and flip though my documents looking for a map. This will be an experience of a lifetime for sure.


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