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Matthew Bischoff

They design & develop apps at Lickability and post about tech & culture here.

The Travel Focus Mode

Last summer, I visited Toronto to see my wife after being separated by pandemic-related border closures for months. While preparing for the trip, I realized that no matter how much I travel, it’s always a little stressful and now moreso with the addition of necessary safety measures like testing and vaccine checks. Add the difficulties of quickly finding boarding passes, managing delays, and tracking bags while my phone buzzes with irrelevant notifications and my heart rate skyrockets. So, I decided to use the trip as a test of the iOS 15 Focus feature and make travel less anxiety-inducing in the process.

I set up a focus mode called Travel that I manually activate or switch into automatically when I launch a flight tracking app or arrive at the airport. When I’m in this mode, a few things happen: my home screen switches to a (usually hidden) page that displays widgets for apps I always find myself searching for when I fly, my Apple Watch shows a special travel watch face, and notifications silence except for the people and apps that I’m expecting to interact with while traveling.

I found that this automation made the process of international air travel a lot smoother, and I’m looking forward to using it again when I fly to see her again soon 🤞. In the interest of sharing, here are my settings in case you want to use them as inspiration to build your personal travel focus mode.

Travel Focus Mode

Set up in Settings → Focus

Travel Focus Settings Screenshot

🔴 Allowed Notifications: Messages from friends, family, Find My, Kindle, Flighty, App in The Air, Uber, and any time-sensitive notifications
⛔️ Focus Status: Off. I don’t need to telegraph to the whole world that I’m unavailable because I still check other notifications, just less frequently
📱 Home Screen: Enable the custom travel page and disable all other pages
📍 Name & Appearance: I use a purple map pin icon because I wasn’t using purple yet, and there’s no airplane icon
🎛 Turn on Automatically: While at JFK, LaGuardia, or Toronto Pearson and when using Flighty

Travel Home Screen

Create and hide a home screen via the page dots while in editing mode

Travel Home Screen Screenshot

I include widgets from:

✈️ Flighty: My gate, check-in, departure, and arrival time
🧳 Find My: The location of my suitcase (via an AirTag), so I know when it’s nearby if I’ve checked it
📒 Notes: A note called “Travel Documents” that always contains my boarding pass, COVID test, and anything else I may need to board
🌨 Weather: The current conditions in my destination city
Clock: The current time at my destination (useful if changing time zones)
🔋 Batteries: Reminds me when I need to charge my devices or where I need to conserve power during delays

Apple Watch Face

Set up in the Apple Watch app or on your watch, then use Shortcuts automation to change to it when in the Travel focus

Apple Watch Lock Screen Screenshot

The watch displays what I need to glance at most while in line or moving around the airport. I use the Infograph Modular face to pack a lot of info on screen at once.

🌎 Earth: Looks cool and reminds me I’m in the travel mode
✈️ App in the Air: Flighty doesn’t have a watch app, so I use this to check boarding info from my wrist
💬 Messages: It’s handy to have a one-tap way to message Kate that I’m delayed or arriving!
🧳 Find My Items: A faster way to locate my suitcase
🌥 Weather: Will I need my coat or umbrella when I arrive?


I hope when you’re able to travel safely again, a focus mode like this will make your trek less of a headache. For a discussion of how Myke Hurley and CGP Grey have adopted this idea in their travels, listen to episode #124 of Cortex.

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