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How Smartphone Use Affects Our Vacations? Data-Backed Insights

Smartphones are without a doubt the most popular travel item. Until we utilize our phones to organize our vacations, there's no issue with it. Unfortunately, even 58% of polled Americans acknowledged that using their cellphones too much during their most recent holiday was a bad idea. Furthermore, over half of respondents (62%) agreed or strongly agreed that utilizing a smartphone for work during their holiday prevented them from relaxing and recharging their batteries. Should we start to be concerned?

A recent study by Passport Photo Online shows that we should seriously consider reducing our smartphone addiction, especially on holidays. Let's start with work-life balance issues.

Working on vacation

As much as 68% of surveyed Americans admitted they use smartphones for work when traveling. That wouldn't be the worst. But even 62% agree or strongly agree that using their devices for work during vacation devastated what vacation is all about - a peaceful mind, and relaxation from everyday life.

Yes, We Should Worry. Alarming Smartphone Use on Vacation Study [1,000 + Americans Surveyed]

Moreover, according to 60% of respondents, using a smartphone for work forced them to change their vacation schedule. In other words, they have to work more than they wanted. Inability to disconnect at a time when we should focus on relaxation has an adverse influence on our mental health. Who is to blame for this?

The answer is not clear-cut. On the one hand, three out of five respondents admitted that their bosses expect them to stay connected during their most recent time away. But on the other hand, almost the same number (55%) feel internal pressure to respond to work emails even if their employers don't require it.

Interestingly, the younger generation, the more people use their smartphones for work-related issues while vacationing. Among Gen Zers, it's an alarming 78%. Millennials are just slightly less connected - 71% of respondents the age of 26 - 38 years old admitted using their mobile devices for work on their most recent holidays.

Most people understand that overusing their devices during holidays is wrong. Precisely, 66% wish they'd been unreachable during their most recent vacation.

What about social media usage on vacation?

We can't talk about smartphone use on vacation without mentioning social media usage - the two go hand-in-hand. According to the research, 89% of surveyed Americans use social media on holidays. Not surprising at all, isn't it?

Most (55%) of them spend between 30 - 120 minutes scrolling on Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks. But almost one in three Americans (31%) uses social media for more than 2 hours a day during the holidays. Every day. On a weekly basis, it is at least 14 hours!


Another alarming statistic relates to the frequency of pulling out cell phones. Most people (71%) do it between 2–5 times per hour. If we assume we’re awake an average of 16 hours, it’s safe to say most travelers check their smartphones ~32–80 times per day.

It's worth noting that 10% of respondents admit to peeking 10 times or more per hour, which translates to over 160 times each day!

Simultaneously, nearly 58% of respondents feel frequent social media use negatively affected their most recent holiday. One of the main reasons for that is FOMO - the fear of missing out. When we see our friends and family members posting about their great times, we can't help but worry we are not doing enough with our lives.

That corresponds with the survey results. The desire to generate envy plays a significant role in social media use on vacation. Almost half of the holidaymakers (46%) say they desired to enrage their followers by showcasing their trip. Simultaneously, 50% of travelers take photographs on social media just to show off.

What are other factors prompting Americans to scroll social media during their downtime?

More than a half of respondents indicated that the most important factors that make them use social media on vacation are:
  • to take photos and/or videos (63%)
  • to stay up-to-date with friends' or families' news while away (58%)
  • to stay in touch with news and current events (56%)
  • to see how many likes and comments one's latest vacation posts have (51%)

It's worth mentioning that especially Millennials treat Instagram pictures as a trigger in choosing holiday destinations. Even 40% decide about places to visit based on how Instagrammable the pics will be.

Not only cons

The abovementioned data show that there are more cons than pros when it comes to smartphone use on vacation. Nevertheless, we can't deny that our devices give us a lot of pleasure and help while traveling. How?


Smartphones help us stay organized and save time. 59% of respondents look for shopping areas and restaurants on their mobile phones. More than a half of vacationing Americans use their devices to search for nearby activities and attractions (57%), as well as to check the weather (52%).

We shouldn't also forget the blessing of online maps that make finding our way around strange places easier. 64% of surveyed look up directions on Google Maps and similar apps.

Last but not least, our mobile phones let us document and share memories. Over three-quarters of respondents (79%) take photos and videos with their smartphones on vacation.

To sum up

The use of smartphones has become so ubiquitous that it is now hard to imagine a world without them. And even though they offer plenty of advantages, their overuse can lead to some serious problems.

While on vacation, we should be aware of the potential risks associated with spending too much time looking at our screens. We need to take care of our relationships and focus on the present moment to make the most of our time off.

Author's bio: Michal Jonca is passionate about travel and food experiences who visited 40+ countries on four continents. He is a Travel Leader at the largest adventurous travel company Solisci and the Community Manager at PhotoAiD. After spending a couple of months in Thailand, he currently enjoys a new workation adventure in Georgia and Armenia. You can follow his Instagram profile @opowiescipodrozne.

Read next: Study Reveals That Approximately 21% of Americans Can’t Remember Their Own Phone Numbers

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