Day 7: Technology Kills the Travel Experience

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Day 7:  Indulging in Techhnology

Day 7: Indulging in Technology

When I happen to be on Twitter and I see tweets come through from people that are practically in the middle of nowhere sending updates, I kind of have mixed feelings on that.

God, I love technology, I really do. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not thankful to have been born in this generation, in this day and age. To see my family across the world, I only have to get on Skype — and it’s free! Technology amazes me every single day, yet…

… yet tweets from the middle of the Amazon, or from a yurt in Mongolia, I almost wish they didn’t happen.

To be fair, part of these mixed feelings might stem from the fact that I lose touch with technology just about anytime I step outside of Sydney. Even with the most comprehensive network coverage in Australia, I can be stuck with no signal for miles… and let’s not even get started on the Internet. It’s gotten to the point where on a short trip, I won’t even pretend that I’ll blog or tweet since it is better to be realistic than disappointed.

While my scorn for the setup down under may impact my feelings a bit, the real reason is because I feel it takes away a bit of the wonder and mystery that goes with traveling to far-flung places. Not only that, but what about the idea of living in the moment and being in touch with yourself while on the road?

Today I read through the 2011 Travel Predictions article as written by Sean Keener (CEO of BootsnAll), and I loved his predictions that more travelers would be disconnecting while on the road.

More and more travelers will look to disconnect with Twitter, Facebook and their blog while they travel – a digital cleanse of sorts, having an experience that they can be present in, versus reporting every detail through every channel.

Amen. Unless you are getting paid to tweet and Facebook and blog your every move, I think that worrying about the digital side of things should not be stressed or overdone. It allows you to sit at the cafe and look around at the environment instead of hiding in your phone. It lets you to connect with your hostel mates instead of your mates back home.

You can get away from stress, relax, let your hair down and breathe.

I love technology, but there’s a point where I’m almost thankful that I’m forced to be without it at times. Do you feel the same?

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About Brooke

Brooke is a passionate traveler who has a love for any country that ends in -stan, languages she'll never be able to speak, and cannoli. She is the creator of the female travel focused FTU Newsletter and Her Packing List website. Follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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58 Responses to Day 7: Technology Kills the Travel Experience

  1. Linda ~ Journey Jottings January 7, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

    Yes, I’m with you 100%!
    I’m all for being in the moment, living and breathing in my surrounds, not consumed by a screen ;)

    • Brooke January 8, 2011 at 8:26 am #

      Yes, such an amazing feeling :)

  2. JoAnna January 8, 2011 at 1:52 am #

    I agree with you, Brooke. I generally will hop on Skype if at all possible to stay in touch with my husband when I travel, but tweeting and Facebook really do take a back seat. First and foremost, the experience has to be mine, and by devoting so much time to social media, it becomes everyone else’s before it becomes my own.

    • Brooke January 8, 2011 at 8:29 am #

      Thanks for commenting :) Technology to keep in touch with your partner or family is amazing, but the idea that documenting your every move… even if that takes away from the moment… is not cool. Totally agree with your comment on making the experience your own before someone else’s.

  3. Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World January 8, 2011 at 2:09 am #

    I don’t have a cell phone so my digital umbilical cord is my laptop. So the only time I have to update my blog and what not is at the end the day — assuming we’re not completely exhausted and there’s wifi of course. It’s a nice way to limit myself from being constantly attached to the digital life.

    • Brooke January 8, 2011 at 8:32 am #

      The only reason I travel with a cell phone now is to keep in touch with my boyfriend, but if we were together exploring the world, I would probably chuck it. I love the idea of limiting yourself like that. Beyond getting online, a laptop has so many other purposes, so it’s worthwhile to take along as long as you have the will-power to withdraw every so often ;)

  4. Alouise January 8, 2011 at 3:59 am #

    I’ve never travelled with my laptop because I don’t want to downfall day on Facebook or writing blog posts. When I went to New York I just had my iPod touch, and always was looking for free wifi for my iPod touch. It got a bit silly, and by the end I realized unplugging is good. Ironically I’m not super social media savvy when I’m home.

    • Brooke January 8, 2011 at 8:35 am #

      I know the feeling… having something that gives you access to wifi make you want to use it more. *sigh* Good for you for disconnecting!

  5. Rebecca January 8, 2011 at 4:44 am #

    This is exactly what a preach! Internet is a privilege, not a right. I rarely minded paying for it while traveling. It made getting online more precious when I could afford it and I learned how to maximize my time better. I never travel with a laptop. I just got a smartphone and sort of hate myself for it. Give me a book, camera, pen and paper any day!

    I hope this is the year that people finally turn the computer off!

    Great little post.

    • Brooke January 8, 2011 at 8:42 am #

      Thanks for the comment — good stuff here. I don’t mind having internet in the hostel or hotel because it really does make planning travel easier. What I’m not a fan of is taking time out of the moment — at dinner, on a boat, etc — to tweet the world your every move. What are you missing while being buried in that phone, hey?

      In my normal life, I love the idea of smartphones, and I envy iphone owners (don’t hate yourself, they can be super handy!)… but I suggest a limit while traveling :)

  6. Christine January 8, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    I love it when I CAN’T be on my phone–whether it’s out of battery, out of service, out of Wifi. I have an iPhone that I love and that I’m a little bit addicted to–it’s hard to CHOOSE to leave it behind–but it’s still so nice to enjoy life in the moment with the real people I’m with. I particularly enjoy unplugging on vacations!

    • Brooke January 8, 2011 at 8:44 am #

      Awesome, Christine! Yep, I love how useful technology is, but hate how addictive it can be. Enjoy the moment, all the way :)

  7. Kyle Morgan January 8, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    It’s only a matter of time before even the farthest flung corners of the planet will be connected…technology is just making the planet a smaller place.

    • Brooke January 9, 2011 at 11:00 am #

      Yeah, it’s both good and bad. It’s bad in a travel lust sort of way, would you agree?

      • Kyle Morgan January 9, 2011 at 11:27 am #

        Yes, it’s horrible for the sense of travel adventure. It kind of sucks when you’ve traveled hours or even days to get to some unique little place only to find technology and the modern world has beaten you there.

  8. Cailin January 8, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    On my past few trips I told myself that I was going to blog and tweet constantly on my trip but every time I stepped foot on a plane that would go right out the door.
    I was in Australia in February of 2010 and would go on the internet in the middle of the night once I finally returned home from touring all day because I couldn’t bare to miss out on seeing something because I was stuck in front of a computer. Even on rainy days! I was also traveling with a mini PC and decided to go to Fiji for a few days and left it at a friends apt because I couldn’t be bothered to carry it around.
    I’ll admit I have mega withdrawls from it though I do miss it, but I like not having a phone attached to me almost as much as I like having one attached to me if that makes any sense…. haha
    Great post Brooke! :)

    • Brooke January 9, 2011 at 11:05 am #

      Thanks for the feedback, Cailin! It’s hard to find a balance, but I think travel should always win out :)

  9. Harrison January 8, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    Tweeting in remote locations just loses that “value” of staying away from technology. I just think a lot of people let their phones, computers, Facebook and Twitters control them, than the other way around. We literally sometimes “leash and collar” to technology.

    When I’m hiking, or at the top of the mountain, I rather not worry bout carrying around my electronics. Great thoughts!

    • Brooke January 9, 2011 at 11:08 am #

      It’s true. It is so hard to disconnect when it is something we’re used to. I’m pretty bad — obviously I’m on the Internet every day — but I find it quite easy to go out and not touch my phone or the like as I’m more preoccupied with the moment. :)

  10. Heather January 8, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    AMEN.

    Been thinking a lot lately about how much I even want to be online in Oz. I love staying connected with folks back home and with travel friends around the world…but there are days where I wonder how different things would be without it. Gonna have to see on the road trip and beyond how I want to incorporate being plugged in into my daily life and when I want to set it aside for a while for a proper rest.

    • Brooke January 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

      Cool man :) I never even use to consider taking a cell phone with me. I remember when I studied abroad, I had no phone, so when I came home I couldn’t even get myself to turn it on. Crazy stuff. But, it was awesome feeling like that.

  11. Sheryll January 9, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    Amazing post. Not only does technology kill the travel experience, but it’s killing our social skills too. Many people are forgetting how to even communicate with each other verbally anymore.

    I’ve been trying to slowly stop checking my facebook/twitter/email so much, realizing the world won’t collapse if I don’t make a post in 24 hours. But part of the reason I am traveling to Thailand is to unplug myself, even if it’s only for a week.

    • Brooke January 10, 2011 at 11:01 am #

      Good luck on the unplugging trip! You’ll have to let us know how it works out ;)

  12. Lauren January 10, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    It’s funny. I wrote a post a while ago about how much I heart Twitter, and I still do, but I’ve been feeling the need to take a break from it and all social media lately. I felt super-relaxed when I was in St. Lucia for a week with absolutely no Internet! Have to strike the balance, I guess. Thanks for the post.

    • Brooke January 12, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

      Thank you, for reading! :) I think we often don’t even realize how stressed it makes our lives until we’re without it. Crazy, hey?

  13. Jonathan (@retrotraveller) January 11, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    I read Sean’s 2011 predictions and the same one stuck in my too… on my last trip to Morocco last year I went with the intention of blogging and tweeting as travelled (I’d just started my blog), but ended up tweeting on the way to airport, then my next tweet was on the bus back home from the airport – everyone back home thought I’d been kidnapped!

    I realised that the hours I’d spend in Internet Cafe would be better spent seeing Morocco!!

    • Brooke January 12, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

      Haha, I have a lot of those tweets — On my way… On way home! Agreed — time is better spent seeing the country :)

  14. Dina January 12, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    Haha, I know what you mean. I’m one of those bloggers that is very lazy in touch with internet life during rugged road trip/adventure. Not only not in the mood finding internet access in national parks, but also my laptop can only run without battery for 30 minutes! (I need to get a new laptop). And many times we are in campervan trip without going to camperground (so we can’t plugin). So many excuses, haha, maybe I’m just rather focusing on the traveling, not writing, when I’m in those kind of places.

    • Brooke January 12, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

      There’s nothing wrong with that, Dina! :)

  15. joshywashington January 12, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    I feel you Brooke and I mostly agree but I think it has more to do with your relationship with technology during travel. Especially for bloggers and such, there must be a middle way that embraces technology for communication and expression but doesn’t detract from the overall travel experiences. I believe by expressing your story of travel (whether online or in a journal) you give voice to a vital part of the experience.
    Technology mustn’t saturate the experience, it must enhance it.

  16. Bethany January 14, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    yes. I agree. In fact when I lost my phone a few months ago, I never looked back. so sick of it. But being in Europe even w/ low internet was tough. Mentally, I knew all the work it would take to get back where I was before so it kind of bummed me out. Trying to make money online and dealing w/ social networking is like working out – if you stop for 2 weeks, you’ve lost a LOT of progress. At least this is what i’ve found. I’m waiting (and working my ass off) to get big enough that I don’t have to sit and tweet all day. blah.

    • Brooke February 4, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

      I honestly don’t know how some people do it with all the tweeting! I can’t keep up…unless I spend all day doing it.

  17. andi January 27, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    Agreed 100%! Staying connected can really take away from a trip.

  18. Bobbi Lee Hitchon January 27, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    I couldn’t agree with you more. When I first got to Australia, I left my blackberry behind. I thought I wouldn’t need it because I was traveling. But looking on twitter and seeing how up to date other bloggers were made me feel like I wasn’t on the ball. It didn’t take long to get over that though. I’m so happy these things are available, but I do like to escape them whenever I can. Forget about the world and just focus on what is in front of me.

    • Brooke February 4, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

      Word sister! I think it’s almost a trap, social media. I love it, but really a lot of us keep up on it to be in the loop.

  19. Cherie @Technomadia February 3, 2011 at 11:09 pm #

    Technology certainly can distract one from experiencing a new place, especially if the concept of travel is a short amount of time in a place.

    However, for us long term perpetual travelers who have no home base, technology can be what makes it sustainable. I not only use it to keep in touch with loved ones, but my clients – ya know, the ones who keep me funded. However, one does have to put the tech down and get out there.

    For us, finding a balance in pace, that allows for getting work done AND experiencing a place is key. Just moving about every few days is exhausting. I much prefer staying in a place when it’s measured by weeks & months so that I can have it all.

    • Brooke February 4, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

      If you are actually using it for work then I am very cool with it, and I would do it myself :)

  20. Theresa February 4, 2011 at 12:02 am #

    I relate 100% to this. I’m thankful for Skype and the way it lets me keep in touch with family when I’m traveling, and I’m able to stay more in touch with cousins and extended family members through Facebook, but I’m wary of technology when traveling. I remember times on our RTW trip when I felt that I *had* to post to our blog. Most of the time I wanted to, but there were times it felt like an obligation or times when I certainly would have rather been doing something else. Since that trip, we’ve disconnected a lot when traveling, and I’m not sure I’d do it the same if I did it again. I mean, I love having all the blog posts now to look back on and reminisce, but it definitely does get in the way of actually experiencing places sometimes. Just this past weekend, we went on a four day trip to Colorado, where I obviously could have been easily connected. Instead I didn’t touch a computer or smartphone, and it was awesome. I loved disconnecting with the wider world and just really inhabiting the little piece of the world I was in. I think I need to do it more often.

    • Brooke February 4, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

      Exactly my point :) I’m glad you’ve been able to disconnect from it all once in a while. Travel should be about taking time away from “work” and it sounds like blogging became much like that when you were traveling… but without the paycheck? Yeah, not cool. Take the break and enjoy the moment :D

  21. mumun February 4, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    Umm… I too love to just enjoy the details of my journey. But I’ve had to change a bit for the sake of the our blog.

    It really depends on what you’re actually doing. For us at indohoy, since we really would love people to see Indonesia, we try to show a lot of things while we travel, sometimes to a point that we’re lazy to show it but have to. Even during the tiny span where there is coverage amongst the no coverage at all. It helps us seduce people to go the distance in this country, because it’s worth it.

    Please do forgive us :(

    • Brooke February 4, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

      I forgive you :) You’re doing it in a different way, obviously, sort of like a job :) I think it’s OK to focus on if you’re trying to lure people to your country. You’re doing great btw!

  22. Erica February 7, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    Definitely an interesting thing to bring up. I’m still trying to figure out how to impose boundaries between our trip and the blog when we leave. I don’t think I’ll be on Twitter to the extent that I am currently but I imagine I will be doing a bit when it comes to my writing and “work” time.

  23. Andarin February 8, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    CoMPLETELY agree. When I went on my first longterm trip in 2009, I scarcely tweeted or even published very much. The trip was an experiment in many ways; and I realized that I worked better by focusing entirely on the trip when I was in it, and then writing about it when I returned home.

    Ideally I’d like to switch between these two modes a couple times a year. Maybe someday, someday soon :)

    • Brooke February 9, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

      Very cool realization :) And great goal! thanks for stopping by and reading.

  24. Elaine Thatcher April 3, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

    Great post and I totally agree that there is nothing more than ditching the phone and computer in favour of experiencing travel without constantly focusing on what’s going on back home. However, I do like to have a laptop nearby as one of my biggest fears when travelling is that something might happen while I’m away and I won’t hear about it until too late so technology does have its advantages too.

    • Brooke April 3, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

      I agree about the part of not hearing about things back home… definitely a pro for technology :)

  25. Nancy April 11, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    AMEN!! I admit it was hard to stay away from the computer during my first trip to Australia. However, that changed on my second trip. Unless it’s earth shattering news, advice, jokes, even photos can wait.

    I agree, if you are getting paid to write, it’s a different story (no pun intended).

    All in all, as bad as the internet is in Africa, I’m still debating the necessity of my laptop.

  26. Lost_Lizzie April 12, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    Hey Brooke, This is a topic that has been on my mind loads while traveling, I have upped my technology use a lot and have been passing it off as staying in contact with friends and family…but isn’t that what I’m traveling for, to disconnect for at least a while?
    I also think we make very odd relationships when meeting people briefly through travels then becoming facebook friends etc, in a few months you are left looking at your friends list thinking “Who?!” – might sound a bit shallow but what I have been feeling anyway!

    Safe Travels!
    Lizzie

  27. Anissa Adas April 27, 2011 at 6:32 am #

    I agree 100% I’m planning on spending next spring in Switzerland and I want to try and make it without relying on twitter, facebook, and texting but I’m not sure if i can do it!!

  28. Brooke August 5, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    test

  29. Nomadic Samuel August 22, 2011 at 5:16 am #

    I agree with what you’re saying in this article. It would be easy for one to fall into a trap – or to get obsessed – with updating their blog to the point they’ve lost their way & have forgotten why they’re on this trip in the first place.

  30. Brandon Williams February 29, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    I fully agree. The general point of traveliing is to take a break from life, and when you have all these gadgets constantly reminding you of the life and responsibilities you left behind, it just defeats the entire purpose.

  31. Ines October 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    I couldn’t agree with you more! When I travel I try to enjoy and live the moment. I try to disconnect from Facebook, emails, etc.. although sometimes is not that easy as we are so used to be around technology all day!

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