The smartphone’s role in the contemporary backpacking experience

  • Everiin Silas IT University of Copenhagen
  • Anders Sundnes Løvlie IT University of Copenhagen
  • Rich Ling Nanyang Technological University


In this study we explore the smartphone’s role in the contemporary international backpacking experience. This paper will examine backpackers’ perceived changes in mediated interaction and personal attitudes towards phone use in co-present situations pre-trip, on-trip, and post-trip. John Urry and Jonas Larsen’s theory on tourist performances as well as Cody M. Paris et al.’s experiences of technology induced anxieties and tensions while traveling provide a conceptual framework for the analysis. A sample of 11 backpackers were interviewed at youth dormitories in Indonesia and Malaysia. Post-trip interviews were conducted primarily online through Skype. The findings suggest that there is an ideal of staying offline while traveling. Yet, backpackers report connecting daily with their smartphones and reveal a travel-time legitimacy for sharing updates and receiving attention on social media. After the trip, backpackers perceived a reduction in their own phone use and an increased tolerance for others’ phone use in their presence.

December 10, 2016
How to Cite
Silas, E., Løvlie, A. S., & Ling, R. (2016). The smartphone’s role in the contemporary backpacking experience. Networking Knowledge: Journal of the MeCCSA Postgraduate Network, 9(6), 40-55.