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Sightseeing with Smartphones: Study Finds US Travelers Tethered to Devices


It used to be that we took vacations to get away from it all; now, we take it all with us by spending more time on our mobile devices—three hours per day—than sunbathing—two-and-a-half hours per day.


It used to be that we took vacations to get away from it all; now, we take it all with us by spending more time on our mobile devices—three hours per day—than sunbathing—two-and-a-half hours per day.

In fact, if forced to choose between traveling with a loved one or a mobile device, an overwhelming majority of Americans—81%—would opt for the tech connectivity instead of the human touch. Those are among the findings in a recent survey by Hotels.com, an online accommodation booking site.

Facebook envy is real. When vacationing, 50% of travelers admit to posting photos on social media in order to show off, while 28% do so to make friends jealous, according to the Hotels.com study. The most aggressive posters are men. They are three times more likely than women to compare their travel posts with those of other vacationers. Some 20% of travelers check their posts to see how many likes and comments the posts received.

Even when traveling, people experience FOMO—fear of missing out. Just so they don’t lose touch, 64% of travelers look at friends’ social media updates and 28% admit to commenting on posts.

More Hotels.com Travel Findings

The most-used social channels when we travel:

• Facebook, 77%

• Instagram, 32%

• YouTube, 25%

• Twitter, 24%

• Pinterest, 14%

The top ways Americans use mobile when traveling:

• Comparing deals, 53%

• Using maps, 51%

• Checking weather, 46%

• Taking photos, 45%

• Accessing social media, 44%

The most popular content we search for when away:

• Restaurants and food markets, 71%

• Tourist attractions, 59%

• Maps and directions, 56%

• Discounts and deals, 38%

• Local beaches, 33%

How Other Nationalities Use Social Media and Mobile Devices When Traveling

Biggest mobile-users on vacation:

• Brazilians: 4.1 hours daily on mobile devices and 3.3 hours daily on social media—and that’s BEFORE the upcoming Olympics

• Argentines: 4.2 hours daily on mobile, 2.6 hours on social media

• Colombians: 4.1 hours daily on mobile, 2.7 hours on social media

• Thais: 4 hours daily on mobile, 3.5 hours daily on social media

Biggest Sightseers:

• China, Spain, and Mexico tie for the nations whose travelers do the most sightseeing: 5.3 hours per day.

• People from Korea and Singapore come in second, spending 4.8 hours per day sightseeing.

• Travelers from Brazil and Colombia come in third, with 4.7 hours per day sightseeing.

• Americans spend an average of 4.3 hours per day sightseeing.

See more findings in the infographic below. And share your thoughts on the use of mobile devices while traveling in our comment section below, or connect with me on Twitter, @familyitrips.

Click image for a larger version.

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