This is the Travel Take, where Matador’s writers and editors make the case for their favorite travel hacks, tips, and personal tics.
I’m a big believer in traveling light, but wherever I go, even if all I have is a half-full backpack, I still have valuables with me. In some cases that’s my computer with my entire livelihood stored on it, other times it’s my passport and a watch that’s far too fancy for me.
I always make sure to keep them locked in the hotel security box when I head out. And while doing so, I take the extra step of snapping a quick picture on my phone of what’s inside and the code to the safe.
It’s not that I’m scared of some White Lotus style break in. It’s that my travel plans often take prime real estate in my memory just up until I’m 30 minutes into the first taxi of the day and the anxiety sets in that I forgot where I put my computer. Or worse, that I’ll remember I put my computer in the safe but forget the code.
For the record: I’m fully aware that this is mildly irrational and that I probably should have a full grasp on keeping track of my belongings at this point in life. I’m also fully aware that this doesn’t apply to many people, frequent travelers or not. And maybe my phone is causing my memory to melt entirely.
Still, that doesn’t mean that one possible cause of the problem can’t also be a solution. Studies have shown that our phones can supplant thinking — and that isn’t inherently bad when you consider that it’s supplanting the anxious part of my thinking. The quick photos are a fast, simple, and harmless trick that provide valuable peace of mind when any travel anxiety sets in. Frankly, there is too much going on to remember everything — especially when there’s no steady routine and I’m traveling to multiple hotels in multiple cities, states, and countries for the better part of a month.
This isn’t restricted to valuables in hotels, of course. You can do this with anything that you check, double check, and triple check before heading out, from your stove to your locked doors. Technology has made it easy to never worry about how you left something no matter how long you’re away. The vast majority of the time I don’t even end up looking at the photos until I’m deleting my terrible travel photos — just the knowledge that I have that picture of where my belongings are is usually proof enough for me to fully experience all that’s around me.
Keeping track of my phone that has said photos, however, is a different story.