Most travelers today are armed with digital cameras and even camera phones (sometimes both), capturing the world 6 megapixels and one smile at a time. Between artsy shots of the Eiffel Tower at sunset and dorky shots at the Leaning Tower of Pisa [see left], have you considered doing something truly USEFUL with your technology? Your camera (phone) can be an effective travel tool in the right hands. A few ideas for how and when to make it work for you after the jump.
Inspiration for this post comes from Life Lessons of a Military Wife, who offered up the following tips relevant to travelers:
+ If you are ever in an accident or witness a car accident, take quick pics of the position of the cars, the damage and license plate numbers of those involved.
+ Before you drive that rental car out of the lot, take a photo from all angles; you don’t want them to come back later and say you did such and such damage; now you’ll have immediate proof it wasn’t you.
+ When you return your rental car with that full tank of gas, take a quick photo of your fuel tank showing it is on “full” and also the mileage noted; you’d be surprised how often they charge you saying you didn’t fill the tank up.
+ If you frequently lose your vehicle in the parking lot, take a photo of what row and section you are in; I’ve also done this at the elevators in the airport.
+ If you have kids and are going to a place with crowds, snap a photo of your kids after you get out of the car; if for some unlikely reason you lose track of your kids, you will have an instant photo to show security personnel; sometimes you can get so panicked, you can forget what they are wearing and what they had with them.
Here a few more traveler-oriented tips:
+ Snap a pic of the contents of your suitcase before flying. You’ll need it to refresh your memory and bolster your claim against the airline if they lose your luggage.
+ While you’re at it, get one of your suitcase too. If it’s lost, you’ll need to provide a description of your bag — having a photo quickly jogs your memory of details you may have forgotten which will make identifying your bag easier.
+ Take a photo of the rental car’s license plate to jog your memory in a crowded parking lot.
+ In the event that your camera is lost, it’s not unwise to snap a photo of a piece of paper with your name and telephone number or email address. Assuming it is found by honest people, they can easily contact you and return it.
+ You can also snap a picture of your passport and a printout listing emergency contact numbers for credit card companies, your bank, or your insurance company, in case your documents or wallet are lost or stolen.
+ If you’re planning a night out drinking, taking a photo of the hotel’s sign (preferably with address and telephone) can help you or your cabbie get you safely delivered in case you can’t quite remember where you’re staying. Even if you’re not drinking, this works well in countries where you don’t know the writing system (Cyrillic alphabet or Chinese characters, for example).
+ A handy way to capture cool design or fashion which you can’t take with you (because of price or because it’s physically bolted in place) but which inspires you in some way is to take a quick photo. I’ve taken a woman’s funky glasses, Danish faucets of all shapes and sizes, various signs and advertisements, etc.
What other curious uses have you discovered for your camera (phone)? Leave your ideas in the comments.