Travel and Technology: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Hey you, get off your f’ing phone!
The irony of bitching about technology by writing a post for a website on a laptop is not lost on me, but hear me out.
Times they are a’changin’ and nothing makes that more apparent than the mass amounts of technology us so called ‘budget backpackers’ are lugging around the world. Fair enough, we’re guilty of it too, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
My parents travelled the world back in the 70’s, when letters home travelled by land, sea and air, took weeks to arrive, and the expectation of regular updates was nil.
When I embarked on my first backpacking adventure in 2006 I had zero devices with me. Only a journal and the expectation that I’d be sending emails home VERY infrequently. This was a time before hourly status updates. Remember what that was like?
Fast forward to my second long term trip, where I had now acquired an iPod and the expectation that Facebook would be updated fairly regularly, when I could find an internet cafe.
Now we’re traveling with a plethora of devices that can be extremely useful and entirely detrimental in varying degrees. That’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of travelling with technology.
In today’s travel world, the ability to update Tripadvisor (or this blog) in the click of a few keys gives the upper hand to the customer. If multiple people have a bad experience with a business that business is basically f*cked. This allows us travellers to support the many fantastic hostels, restaurants and tour operators, and avoid the few that are out to screw you. This is good, but along with The Good comes The Bad.
There seems to be a lot less exploring happening these days. Hostels, restaurants and attractions are researched in advance, booked online, and then simply arrived at. Almost everyone we talk to has already planned where they’re staying 2 towns over from where they are now. Of course this can be helpful, for example if you’re on a short timeline or have special needs, but overall the uncertainty that makes backpacking so exciting has been lost. On this trip we’ve made an effort to rarely book things in advance – to keep the unknown unknown. This tactic has resulted in varying degrees of success, but that’s the adventure of the unexpected and we prefer it this way.
It makes me sad. I can’t count how many times we’ve marvelled at fellow travellers, sitting in a stunning setting, in total silence, scrolling though other people’s vacation photos on their phones. Sigh. There’s a time and place for everything, so in this moment:
Put that damn phone down!
Have a conversation!
Take in your beautiful surroundings!
Enjoy our world, minus the pixels, and update your status later.