We all know that snapping photographs of your travels is a great use of your mobile phone. Here’s what I’ve learned: Beyond capturing the beautiful moments, phones can also help you avoid many travel headaches. On your next trip, whip out your smartphone camera and shoot the following photos. It will take only a few seconds and could save you wasted time—and even hundreds of dollars—later in your trip.
1. Snap a photo of your parking spot at the airport.
When you return from your trip jet-lagged and foggy, you’ll know the floor/row where you parked your car.
2. Snap a photo of your luggage before handing it to the airline check-in agent.
If your bag gets lost, you’ll have a photo to help the airline identify it. You also may want to take a photo of the contents: If you have to file a claim for a lost suitcase, you’ll need a description of every item that was in it.
3. Snap a photo of your passport identification page.
If you lose your passport, this will help you quickly procure a replacement.
4. Snap a photo of the transit system map in the foreign city you’re visiting.
That way you can refer to it as often as you need to, without worrying about Wi-Fi access, while exploring the city.
5. Snap a photo of your hotel’s business card or your cruise ship’s location in your current port of call.
This will come in handy if you need help finding your way back.
6. Snap a photo (several, actually) of your rental car before driving it off the lot.
Document any and all dents and scratches on the car at pick-up, and again at drop-off, in case the rental agency later tries to bill you for damage you didn’t do.
7. Snap a photo of signs or placards you may want to refer to later.
Do your brain a favor and photograph any signs that provide traveler help, technical instructions, regional context, or historical information that you might want to remember. (If they’re written in a foreign language, the Google Lens function in the Google Translate app can convert the text in your photo to English.)
8. Snap a photo of any expensive souvenirs you buy and ship home.
If your purchase never arrives, or if it arrives damaged, you’ll want a photo documenting what you bought.
9. Snap a photo of any souvenir you almost buy but don’t because it’s too expensive.
At least you can enjoy the memory (or, if you change your mind, order it from the merchant later). Of course, whenever you see a local artisan handcrafting a souvenir you’re going to buy, snap a photo of them making it (but always ask for their permission first).
10. Snap a photo of your children each morning of the trip.
If they get lost, you can show authorities what they look like and what they’re wearing.
11. Snap a photo of the objects your children make or collect during the trip that can’t be transported back home.
Such photos will go a long way toward mollifying your kids when they are forced to leave their treasures behind.
12. Snap a photo of your rental home upon departure.
Avoid unexpected fees by taking photos that show you left the house and its contents in good condition.
Tell me: What did I forget? How else can you use a smartphone camera to prevent or minimize travel headaches?
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