This post is part of a paid partnership with Three, a UK mobile network that I have been using since before I began travelling full-time and continue to use today. As always, all stories, opinions and images are my own. 

As a digital nomad, there are only two things I truly need to sustain this lifestyle: my laptop and a WiFi connection. But there are also several items that make everything I do SO much easier – and much more enjoyable! – and my phone sits firmly at the top of that list. 

 

Mobile phones get a lot of negative press, but Three’s Phones Are Good campaign aims to show the other side: the positive one. And, the more I think about it, the more I realise how much I depend on my phone for some very good things. My phone makes my life easier and, ultimately, happier – and I didn’t realise until Three asked me to share my experiences as part of this campaign. 

So, let’s take a little look at some of the main ways I use my phone while travelling and working on the go!
 

 

taking mobile photos in Tbilisi
Taking a spontaneous photo on the Peace Bridge in Tbilisi, Georgia

Just to let you know… This post (probably) contains affiliate links, including Amazon Associates links, and I may receive a small commission if you click one. This is at no extra cost to you and allows this site to keep running.


How I use my phone as a digital nomad

It wasn’t until I sat down to write this post that I realise just how much I use my phone while travelling. Here are 9 ways it helps me when I’m on the road:

#1 To stay connected with friends and family 

One of the hardest parts of being a digital nomad is being away from friends and family. Sure, I can go back and visit whenever I want, but it doesn’t make the distance feel any lesser. 

This year, I’ve been really good at stepping away from my laptop when I want to unwind. And, more and more, I’ve been scheduling calls with friends and family to help me to do. No matter how near or far you are, nothing beats a phone call with a loved one.

 

After two stints in foreign hospitals, this year has really taught me the value of a good old phone call. Skype is great, but there’s something very personal about picking up the phone and hitting the green dial button. Rather than getting distracted by video, you have nothing but each other’s voices to focus on, and I find it much more personal.

Plus, why wouldn’t I make the most of unlimited calls? One of the best things about Three’s extensive roaming coverage is that it includes calls, and I’ve been trying to use them more and more.


RELATED READ: The time I was hospitalised in Peru.


#2 To keep on top of work 

While most of my work is facilitated by my laptop, I still use my phone for a number of tasks. Aside from posting to Instagram and social media, my phone comes in handy for taking notes on the go and jotting down reminders and ideas when I don’t have my laptop nearby.

One time when my phone is absolutely crucial, though, is when I’m doing my accounts. Not only do I access my business bank accounts via mobile apps, but I also use my phone to make all of my accounts more secure. I use two-factor login, whereby I need to receive a text or authentication code to login, on almost everything across my business. It keeps everything super secure and simply wouldn’t be possible without a phone. It’s also why I keep the same number for all my business activities!

 

The main street in Harajuku, Tokoy
Taking a photo in Harajuku, Tokyo

#3 To stay organised wherever I go

Remember the days of travelling with printed copies of all your booking confirmations? Mobile phones have pretty much put an end to that!

Now, I have all of my confirmation codes, tickets and other documents I need stored safely in my phone at all times. Not only does it save me rummaging through pages of paper, but I don’t have to worry about losing anything important. Plus, I never need to worry about getting my dates and times right because it’s easier than ever to check. 

 

#4 To reduce waste while travelling

As well as being useful for keeping track of flights, hotels and other bookings, using e-tickets and electronic boarding passes helps cut down on paper usage.

Sure, it may only be a small amount of paper, but it all adds up. And when you travel as much as I do, it adds up to quite a lot over time!


READ NEXT: 12 flight booking tips from a full time traveller


#5 To stay safe when I travel 

In most countries, taxi apps are a much safer way to get around than hailing a street cab.

When you use apps like Uber, Grab and FreeNow, you can track your driver and their number plate, and forward that information to a friend. Then, if anything goes wrong – or if you leave something behind – it’s much easier to resolve.

Many of these apps also have a ‘safety’ button, which you can use to alert someone if something doesn’t feel right. 

 

#6 To stay entertained on the go 

When you live out of a suitcase, you’re pretty much restricted to essentials. And that means no extra entertainment. 

If my suitcase is my house, my phone is my TV, games console and stereo all in one. I use it to watch YouTube videos, listen to podcasts and catch up on TV shows pretty much every day. And I rarely work without a concentration playlist on Spotify.


Reissue cafe in Harajuku Tokyo Japan
I once used my phone to get 3D latte art of my bunny, Binky!

#7 To build good habits

One of the hardest things about being a digital nomad is the lack of routine. Not only do I have to motivate myself to work in new locations, but I have to try hard to stay on top of personal habits too.

Staying fit while travelling is tricky when you can’t have a gym membership, so I use yoga and fitness apps to workout wherever I am. 

I also use apps to stay on top of every other habit I want to commit to, including meditation and journalling. Using my phone helps keep me accountable without needing to lug loads of extra items around! 
 

 

#8 To stay organised

More than anything, my mobile phone is basically my personal organiser in my pocket.

I use my phone to set reminders for my medication, alarms to wake up on time and reminders for meetings or calls I need to take. 

My phone is also where I keep my portable to do list and a Trello board where I can jot down random ideas on the go. It’s with me all the time, so I never need to panic about forgetting things!


READ NEXT: My portable “office” set-up


#9 To take photos

Even though many people use their phones as their camera, I still need to carry camera gear with me for my work. But that doesn’t mean I always take a camera out with me.

In fact, many of the photos on this blog were taken on my phone! I love that my phone’s camera is good enough to take spontaneous pictures and “just in case” shots for blog posts I might want to write.

When I do have my camera with me, I often use my phone to control it remotely. It’s also the controller for my drone, allowing me to extend my creativity with the camera gear I have.
 

 

Mobile photo in Harajuku Japan


Why I use a Three sim card

I first switched to Three in 2017, not long after booking my one way ticket to Kuala Lumpur. With Three’s Go Roam data roaming, you can use your data in 71 destinations worldwide. 

That means I rarely need to buy a local sim card now – something I used to do all the time when I first started travelling. Every time I arrived somewhere new, I’d waste half a down finding somewhere to find a sim card and figuring out how to activate a data package.

I use a pay as you go sim, so I can top up as much or as little data as I need. And, in the countries where roaming isn’t available, I don’t spend a penny.

This year alone, I’ve used my Three sim card for data roaming everywhere from Peru and Chile to Bali, Singapore and Australia.

Three also offer some handy extra perks, such as free EasyJet upgrades and little freebies and discounts in the mobile app. 

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THREE’S PAYG SIMS


Do you really need a phone while travelling? 

If you’re planning a big trip, you might be wondering if you need to take your smartphone. A few years ago, I might have said it’s better to leave it behind. But now I wouldn’t travel anywhere without mine. 

Of course, you can never guarantee that something will go wrong – just like you can’t guarantee things won’t happen at home. But as long as you make sure you have good insurance, your phone can make your travels easier, safer and more efficient.