Trippin' With My iPhone - Wait-a-Thon


It doesn't have 3G. It doesn't have true GPS. It doesn't have instant messaging or 3rd party apps or even cut and paste. With all it's current shortcomings, the iPhone is still a worthy "Swiss Army Knife" of smartphones that you can confidently take with you through airport security, on a plane, and throughout your trip as an excellent traveling companion. In fact, I'll boldly exclaim that the iPhone is all that I could ask for in my travels and I really put it through it's paces on a recent trip.

Read on about my trippin' with my iPhone!

Starting the Trip

Let's Fly!

Last Friday I caught a late afternoon flight from Salt Lake City to LAX. A quick check on Flightstats on my iPhone (, a neat little web app, allowed me to check on my flight status and learn my flight was running on time. The weather app confirmed that L.A. is like the movie "Groundhog Day" --- 73 degrees and sunny now and forever. Hmmmm.... I've always wanted the weather icon on my iPhone to display the current temperature instead of the perpetual 73 degrees, but if you live in L.A., the point is moot.

Sitting on the plane, I made a call home, sent a couple text messages, checked email, and buckled up for my flight. Heeding the warnings about electronic devices singlehandedly downing commercial aircraft, I activated "Airplane Mode" and tucked my iPhone away until we had reached the magical "safe altitude" where everyone can power-up their electronics without fear of aerial armageddon. Plugging in my earphones, I turned my iPhone sideways and immediately immersed myself in a gritty movie, "The Departed." Nothing like some Jack Nicholson with an ensemble of other talented actors to pass the time as I flew toward Hollywood.

Hitting the Town

Hooray for Hollywood

Arriving at LAX, I called my friend to let him know I was at curbside and ready to roll. He picked me up and let me know he had tickets for a night of comedy at "The Comedy Store," a well-known hole-in-the-wall kind of club with big-name comics strutting their stuff and trying out new acts for the small crowd before taking their game to prime-time. Not having been there before, we used Google Maps on my iPhone to map our route and we got their just in time for the show. Fourteen comics and an excellent ab workout later, we called it a night (by the way, did you know the iPhone makes for an excellent flashlight when trying to find the bathroom in the dark?).

The next day, with my iPhone freshly charged, we hit the road and headed for the Griffith Observatory. Again, Google Maps was handy. After seeing a stellar (pun intended) show narrated by an enthusiastic-to-the-point-of-creepy volunteer, we walked around to look at all things spacey, including a moon rock (it's gray and can not be mistaken for cheese).

Griffith Observatory

In keeping with the theme of space (you know how those Hollywood types are "out there"), we killed some time with our own version of "star tours" -- my iPhone was less helpful here due to no "Star Maps" available on Google Maps, but we saw some insanely-enormous houses (estates?) and did our best to satisfy our curiosity at how the "other half" lives.

We left the mansions behind and headed to the newly-renovated Graumans Egyptian Theater for a one-night showing of Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" [ed. note: RIP Arthur C. Clarke]. Although my iPhone lacks the all-seeing red eye and pleasantly hypnotic Valium-esque voice of the HAL 9000, Google Maps once again performed admirably in giving us the best route to the theater. Watching the movie, I couldn't help but be amused by the gigantic plastic push-buttons on all of the spacecraft --- man's best attempt in the 60's to envision what our interaction with machines would be like in the year 2001. I suspect the iPhone's touchscreen with all it's "pinching" and "stretching" would seem like witchcraft.

Graumans Egyptian Theater

The next day, my friend and I were talking about the movie. I couldn't help but liken the monoliths to the iPhone (if you've seen the movie, you know what I mean), but apart from that, we were trying to decide if it was possible for a human, sans helmet and gloves for his space suit, could withstand zero pressure and extremely cold temperatures for even an instant. This was important, of course, because this happens in the movie and, the geeks that we are, we wanted to know if it was possible or if Stanley Kubrick was full of you-know-what. Again, my iPhone was helpful. I opened Safari and we Googled until we learned that the temperature in space is 2.725 degrees Kelvin. Hmmm... sounds kinda cold. But what does that mean to us? Try -454.765 degrees Fahrenheit (yes, that's roughly 422 degrees below freezing). We both concluded that this was the temperature where Hell must surely freeze over.

The last notable part of my trip was our visit to Amoeba Records. Wow, what a store! You can find just about ANY music CD, cassette tape, vinyl, DVD movies, even laser disc. Again, Google Maps pointed the way and, as you can see here, the iPhone makes a suitable camera in a pinch. If you are in the L.A. area and have a list of media that you can't find anywhere else, Amoeba Records may just be the place for you.

Amoeba Records

Workin' It

During my stay in L.A., I had to mix business with pleasure. I attended a work-related conference for a couple days and utilized my iPhone often during the less interesting portions of the conference: text messaging, browsing the internet with Safari, and email. The iPhone is an excellent back-up when a laptop is simply too conspicuous.

I wrapped up my trip with a flight out of John Wayne Airport for my journey home to Salt Lake. Again, Flightstats confirmed my flight was running on time. In fact, we ended up pulling away from the gate fifteen minutes EARLY. Can that happen?? I'd like to give my iPhone credit for that one, but we know it can't do everything (yet). I also checked the weather in Salt Lake City before leaving L.A. so I would know how to dress; no surprise that dressing warmer was prudent.

Flying home, I used my iPhone to listen to Phone different's Podcast 14 (nothing like Dieter's soothing voice to get you through the turbulence). I arrived in Salt Lake, listened to iTunes while I made the long walk to baggage claim, and called my wife to let her know I was at number 7 on the curb for pickup. Home in one piece -- mission accomplished.

Besides learning how cold space really is, where to get a few laughs, and my flight status, what did I really take away from this trip? Well, I learned that even without the much-anticipated 3rd party apps, true GPS, 3G and multimedia messaging, my iPhone is an exceptional traveling companion when only using the built-in apps and the available web apps that are out there. I can think of no other complete package that slips so easily into your pocket that provides as much information, functionality, and entertainment than an iPhone. I'm looking forward to the next time I can go trippin' with my iPhone.

How has your iPhone been trippin' for you?

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Reader comments

Trippin' With My iPhone - Wait-a-Thon


Traveling with my iPhone has been fantastic, so good in fact that I no longer feel the need to have a laptop with me every time i step onto an airplane. Over xmas and new years the wife and I traveled to the UAE and Paris. I called up ATT before the trip to make sure we both still had international service and I set up with them so that I would have data while we were in Paris. We used the phones to call friends at home a few times and we used google maps a lot in Paris. All in all the bill was only about $40 more than usual and we got a ton of use out of them from a communications standpoint. Of course the biggest benefit was having entertainment for our flights. Now, I knew battery life would be an issue seeing as how we were flying cattle class and wouldn't have in-seat power so I invested in this little gadget and was able to keep both of our iPhones in operation and only using 4 AA batteries.

Great comment, AnteL0pe. I guess it depends on the length of your flight, but I found that my shorter flight meant little impact on my iPhone battery and I made it through more than half of my movie before I was forced to shut down. :) The link for the little gadget you used isn't working, but from the sound of it, it must have fit the bill!

I was always a WM guy and and never even dreamed of getting a iPhone until 2 months ago. I can honestly say I never enjoyed using any WM device half as much as I do using my iPhone. It's got me thinking about picking up a Mac to go along with my PC... something I also said I would never do.

And again I hate on the greedy, short-sighted b@stards who run the telcos in Canada and charge so much for data, I don't dare ever use my revolutionary internet device off Wi-Fi...

I'm not yet sure if the I-phone is for me. I am a bit concerned that they keep moving forward so fast that these features may have too many bugs in them.
Traveling with an I-Phone would be convenient though. It seems like these days I have to carry too many separate techno-gadgets. The I-Phone could help in that department.

And only if it truly had "the much-anticipated 3rd party apps, true GPS, 3G and multimedia messaging"
LA is a "stellar" city.

I love traveling with my iPhone. I've taken it to Europe, to South America, from coast-to-coast in the U.S. Now that iTunes has movie rentals it's even better: I can put a couple rental movies on the phone and watch those during the flights. I'm careful to top up the charge using whatever electrical outlet I can find in the terminal when changing flights, but honestly it's better than I thought. While in airplane mode there's no GSM, WiFi, or BT to burn through your battery so that helps compensate for the video use. Also love reading books using Readdle's offline feature (save as bookmarks).

The iPhone came in way handy for my trip to palm springs last month. Not only did I use the video for the plane trip to catch up on some episodes of Burn notice but I also was able to use it while on the elliptical trainer in the gym I got to use everyday time sure does fly by when you get to watch your favorite TV shows. But I was a little disappointed to not be able to play any games while on the plane.

Back in October I had a series of interview in different states, must of them were overnight stays and I decided not to carry my laptop and use the iPhone. It really fit the bill, I saved on GPS on the car rentals thanks to Google maps, keep up with email, and surf the web while listening to my music. And that was before movie rentals. Now if my trip is for a few days I don't carry my laptop. The main reason I carry my laptop is to download the pics from my camera and my sick attachment to the laptop.

love taking my phone everywhere! Hate the wired headset. Wish I could hear music etc... Through my Bluetooth headset.

The link for the little gadget you used isn't working, but from the sound of it, it must have fit the bill!
Odd, the link works from the forums, but not from the front page.
I'm not yet sure if the I-phone is for me. I am a bit concerned that they keep moving forward so fast that these features may have too many bugs in them.
Huh? What new features have been buggy? The speed of OS updates for the iPhone has been fantastic IMHO. It's been far better than either WinMo or Palm OS, both of which are horrible at releasing OS updates. It is also very telling as to how Apple thinks about updates for this device. Putting out smaller more frequent updates smacks of a well thought out plan of keeping their cats in the bag until they're fully baked and constantly giving the users something new.
PS I don't condone baking cats
PPS Except those mean ones or the ones that just hide under a bed all the time. Those cats suck.

Oh, you just had to bring up cats. I'm a dog-man with two cats in the house. Ugh. One of them has taken to projectile vomiting 3 days straight. I think he's got everything worked out now (literally and metaphorically).
I haven't noticed too much in the way of bugs with my iPhone, but if it starts projectile vomiting, I'll let you know.

The iPhone is the perfect travel tool, I agree. Having the ability to check-in at will as well as change seats. Won't be long before the iPhone will be your boarding pass. By the way, I got a coupon for a Barnes and Noble book discount, I forgot to print it up and the clerk accepted the coupon from the phone. Yesssss!

... a well thought out plan of keeping their cats in the bag until they're fully baked ...
Is the Wait-a-Thon a mixed metaphor competition now? :)

My iPhone is an indispensable tool while traveling. I've never before been able to use one device for so many task before. My pockets have become much lighter because of it.

I was wondering what neat "little gadget" Antelope was referring to... (the link just brought this page up again!) I have an iTouch which is nice for long flights, but the battery doesn't last too long!
I have kind of a random question for those of you with iPhones- has anyone used their iPhone at high altitudes? I saw on Apple's website that its maximum operating altitude is 10,000 feet (3000 meters). We were thinking of getting one for a big hike we're planning that would take us to high altitudes, and was wondering if anyone had any problems with it.
Thanks :)

This is one of those cases where I wish I had an iPhone. I don't even have an MP3 play at the moment, and it makes the morning commute seem like a trip around the world.

Is the Wait-a-Thon a mixed metaphor competition now? :)
Sure! Maybe we can all get an extra entry for the every metaphor you can string together in a single sentence :P

What are the "hidden costs" as in "roaming" charges for countries like Argentina, and Singapore? Are there any tips that anyone can offer on how not to wind up with a ridiculous phone bill. Turning off internet or automatic roaming.. any tips appreciated!

Just back from Argentina. Used my iPhone.. turned off "roaming" and "3G" until I made a call. I still wound up with a $300+ phone bill in addition to my regular phone charges for the month. The mistake I made? Make sure after your call that you hang up .. double check. For some reason the call hangs on.. make sure you disconnect. My phone stayed on even after I hit "end call".. My charges went accordingly. AT&T scam or ? Whatever, it did cost me even after all the precautions so beware.