This is part of BootsnAll’s 30 Days of Indie Travel project, a daily blogging challenge with a prompt for every day in November 2011. Check out the prompt at the bottom of this post to find out how you can participate!
When my wife and I went our RTW trip, I was hoping to break free of my technology addiction. What better time, I wondered to myself, to not want to care about getting online than when traveling the world? We had a blog that we wanted to keep up with, pictures we wanted to back up easily, and we hoped to Skype often with our families and friends back home, so we did travel with a laptop. But I really did hope to spend as little time as possible browsing the interwebs and wasting the amount of time online I did while at home.
Even though this was only a few years back (2008-2009), smart phones were really just gaining steam as an “everyone has them” type of technological advancement, and iPads were still unknown. I suppose netbooks were the big travel advancement (and one that we jumped on board with when our laptop shot the craps halfway through our trip) of the time since they were the first really small, lightweight, portable devices.
I unfortunately failed in my attempt to cut the technological umbilical cord as the blog took on a life of its own and it proved harder than I thought to tear myself away from all that information out there while we were on the road. When we would arrive in a new city, an internet connection was an important part to where we slept each night. I struggled at times as I would beat myself up over the fact that I seemed like I couldn’t go much more than a few days (unless I was in the mountains or middle of nowhere – nature seemed to give me a much needed break) without getting online and feeding my appetite for information. Add in the fact that we didn’t book a RTW flight, and we always seemed to be on the lookout for that next great deal or looking towards our next destination.
Accepting defeat, I was nowhere near where I wanted to be with my addiction by the time we arrived home from the trip. I had a problem, I admitted it, and while I was disappointed in myself, I was also not going to deal with it. In fact, my problem became worse. Within a few months of arriving back home in the States, I bought a smartphone. Then the real trouble began.
At any break or downtime, I found myself checking something on my phone. It seemed to always be in my hand and became a great device for when boredom set in. In addition to the entertainment, it actually became quite helpful as well, particular when traveling. I quickly realized how awesome a handheld, internet-ready device could be when we were on the road. Maps and directions to anywhere I needed to go. Locations of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops were at my finger tips, and reviews of all were right behind. And don’t get me started on all the helpful apps. Not only was I addicted to Al Gore’s invention, but I was obsessed once it was available 24/7 and in my pocket.
Still, in the back of my mind, I thought I could do without, especially when it came to travel. So when we went to Europe for 2.5 weeks in September, I figured it would be good to do without my phone. So I left it at home. And when we booked an apartment for our week in Barcelona, we went with location and price as opposed to whether it had WiFi.
While being away from things like email and facebook was quite nice, it didn’t take long to realize how important technology had become in my life, particularly my travel life. And not just when it came to those down or boring times you have when traveling. I’m talking about the important stuff. The part of technology that makes travel easier. Just having google maps alone is a godsend when it comes to traveling. Being in a completely foreign city and having the ability to plug in an address and find instant directions saves so much time, energy, and frustration.
Food is also a big part of the travel experience for us. Having the ability to find restaurants, see menus, and read reviews, wherever we are, is another major perk that technology has brought to my travel life. While posting pictures and keeping everyone up to date on Facebook is nice, it’s even better to throw out a question on the various social media sites and receive instant feedback. A simple tweet of “Been to Barcelona before? Where’s the best place for tapas?” receives instant recommendations. Getting immediate advice from people who are there or have been there is something that is just not possible without the advent of technology that we have today.
So I decided to stop beating myself up. I not only admitted but embraced my addiction to technology. When it comes to traveling, I realized that technology is good. While I agree that we often do need to put the damn phone down and take in what it is we’re seeing and visiting, there are so many positives when it comes to technology and traveling that the good far outweighs the bad.
So now my battle with technology is officially over. Technology defeated me, and I’m fine with that. As long as technology keeps coming to may aid when I’m lost, hungry, and in desperate need of a cheap beer somewhere, I’ll take the bad along with it.
30 Days of Indie Travel Project: How to Participate
We’re inviting bloggers from around the world (that means you, too!) to join us in a daily blogging effort designed to reflect on how our travel experiences over the last year – or whenever – have shaped us and our view of the world. Bloggers can follow the prompts as strictly or loosely as they like, interpreting them in various ways and responding via text, photos or video posted on their own blogs.
We’ll share some of our favorites via Twitter and Facebook throughout November, as well as a round-up article at the end of the month, so if you’re playing along make sure to let us know – use the #indie30 hashtag on Twitter, and link to the 30 Days of Indie Travelpage in your post so we’ll be able to find it.
Find out all of the 30 Days of Indie Travel blogging prompts so far – it’s never too late to join in the fun!
Prompt #23: TECHNOLOGY