Is technology making traveling too easy and predictable?
You already know your travel destination through and through before you’ve even left home
With the Google Street View app, you can go on your very own virtual tour of thousands of miles of streets all across the world, from central London and Manhattan to the vast rocky desert landscapes of northern Argentina and the enchanting ancient hilltop villages of Tuscany. It’s great when you have neither the means nor the time to see these places for real, but when you do get the opportunity to actually visit them, you’ll probably already know everything about them.
Being too prepared might mean you miss out on pleasant surprises
If you’re planning your travel itinerary on an hourly basis – i.e. 11:00 arrive at airport, 12:00 leave airport, 13:00 lunch at café, 14:00 check in at the hotel – you’ll be missing out on the real adventure of traveling. That’s because everything you plan will be based on your perceptions of the destination before you arrive. But perhaps you didn’t realize just how beautiful this place really is, or how far away everything is, or how hot it is, or how well all the bus drivers know English?
By all means, plan your hotels, research a few places to eat out, and know when the museums open and close. Always ensure that your mobile devices are insured when you travel. However, try to allow some time for spontaneity and pleasant surprises – it is often the unexpected parts of a trip that become the most memorable.
You don’t bother to learn a new language
This leads to another point: it can be difficult to find any motivation to learn a language if you have a translation app that can tell you what everything is in your own language. Sometimes, it’s more exciting not to have a translation app to hand and to go somewhere where nobody speaks English. You have to force yourself to understand what people are saying and practice your phrases to a level that a native person can understand. Don’t worry if you make a fool of yourself – after all, it’s not likely you’ll ever see these people again.
Technology makes everywhere feel the same
Having constant access to the same apps everywhere you go can create a sense of homogeneousness that goes against another very important component of travel adventures: exploring new horizons. You don’t want to feel like all cities are the same, to feel like you’re in London when you’re in New York, to feel like you’re in Tokyo when you’re in Hong Kong.
Go on a short-term ‘tech detox‘ once in a while
Travel apps improve your experience by helping you make plans and to get from A to B more easily. However, the more time you spend in the virtual online world and tuning into what’s happening back home, the less you can immerse yourself into your new environment. Try to spend at least a few hours at a time – or perhaps an entire trip – without your smartphone or any tech device when you’re sightseeing (i.e. leave your phone at the hotel safe). It might seem a scary prospect at first, but you may soon find it a very liberating experience.
About the Author
Laura Reeve is a Marketing Executive, who specialize in travel insurance for those with pre-existing medical conditions, and are one of very few that have no upper age limit on their policies.
Photo credit: Skeeze / Dean Moriarty