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destination disengage: calls for a digital detox 

travel insurance digital detox

It may be the travel accessory we can’t go without but could smartphones be holding back our holidays? 

We map out our itineraries on our phones; use them to take tourist snaps, book transport, accommodation, flights and more. But experts warn that smartphones and the use of technology on our holidays may limit our capacity to fully ‘switch off’ and engage with our surroundings and loved ones.
 
While excessive screen time in our day-to-day lives is hardly ideal, it’s the time we specifically allocate to winding down where technology use should be minimised, says Natalie Ball, director, Comparetravelinsurance.com.au.

Ball says:
 
“The purpose of a holiday is to disconnect and get away from it all, yet too often, we spend this precious time attached to our gadgets, mindlessly scrolling and tapping as we ignore our environment and travel companions. Rather than focusing on the world around us, we’ve become far more engrossed in our cyber realities.”
 
A recent survey conducted by Intrepid Travel revealed that 47% of respondents would not be able to go on holiday without their phones.  Those surveyed also said they would base their travel choices on Wi-Fi availability and ‘what will look good on social media’.

Ball adds:
 
“The data tells us that travellers are increasingly missing out on quality time out due to their reliance on technology and social media. True addicts who can’t fathom a total digital detox may want to consider switching off their phones or deleting their work email apps to really focus on unwinding. Alternately, picking a remote holiday destination with little to no mobile phone signal leaves you with no option but to disconnect.”
 

lost phone woes

Digital distractions aside, phones can also wreak havoc on our holidays by simply going AWOL. Claims data obtained by Comparetravelinsurance.com.au can reveal that roughly 10% of all paid travel insurance claims are mobile phone related.

Ball says:
“A smartphone has become the one item many travellers consider a necessity but all too often come home without. Pickpocketing, phones left behind or dropped on the ground are common reasons to claim on your travel insurance. However, it’s important to note that a standard policy may not necessarily cover the full cost to replace your smartphone if it were lost or damaged on your holidays."

As a word of warning Ball advises travellers to watch out for per-item limits, or the amount you can claim for each individual item of luggage. For instance, while the entirety of your luggage may be covered for $10,000 you may only be able to claim a maximum of $750 per item. 

Ball advises, "Do your homework when looking for cover. If your phone is worth upwards of $1,000, make sure your policy’s ‘single item limit’ is enough to cover your specific model."

insurer's with high-end mobile phone coverage?

The following comprehensive policies are top-of-the-range when it comes to smartphone cover:

  • Citibank covers mobile phones, laptops and mobile data devices for up to $3,500.
     
  • InsureAndGo will pay up to $3,000 for mobile phones, laptops and tablets.
     
  • American Express covers smartphones for up to $1,500 and up to $3,000 for laptops, computers and tablets.
     
  • 1Cover covers mobile phones and tablets for up to $1,000, with laptops covered for up to $3,000. 
 

eye on the price 

Keep in mind that insurers will usually depreciate the value of any item due to wear and tear since purchase date. Consider policies that cover 'new for old' or adding your valuables on as ‘specific high value items’ where depreciation is not applied, so that you’re not left out of pocket at claim time.

keep it covered

It’s also worth knowing that most travel insurance companies would not cover you for ‘unattended items.’ This definition can vary but generally refers to belongings left behind in taxis, hotel rooms, airplanes or unlocked cars. It is considered your responsibility to look after your belongings and to ensure that they’re not exposed and vulnerable to eager pickpockets. If you can’t be trusted, consider leaving your flashy new gadget at home! 
 

How to hang-up your smartphone habit 

If you’re a self-confessed gadget-junkie looking to get away from the daily grind it could be in your interest to put your iPhone habit on hold. The following tips can help kick your digital addiction:

  • Destination detox: Tranquil waters, sun-baked beaches and…bad reception?! Yes that peaceful island in the tropics may not have the finest wi-fi network and even patchier phone coverage but imagine the wonders it could do for your sanity and relationship. It may not be an immediate drawcard but consider limited reception a blessing in disguise.
     
  • Delete apps: Do you really need constant emails alerting you to shoe sales and friend requests? Even more to the point, are you seriously scrolling through other people’s holiday snaps while you’re actually on one? Consider the apps you consider absolutely vital and delete those that will sap your energy and give you FOMO.
     
  • Lock your phone away: Press pause before you bring your phone to the pool or beach. If it’s nicked while you’ve gone in for a dip it won’t be covered by travel insurance. Rather, lock your phone away in the hotel safe and get stuck into a good novel or trashy magazine instead.
     
  • Take a camera: It may be old-fashioned or the domain of photography geeks but taking a standalone camera can ease your phone addiction and allow you to take some truly memorable shots without the allure of social media sucking you in.
     
  • Use a good old-fashioned map: Another old-school suggestion but learning how to get around without the use of technology can be empowering and remind you of a time long before Google Maps. Another benefit? A physical map never runs out of battery or suffers from a software meltdown.

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