Technology and travel – do they clash or complement each other?

Up until last year I very rarely bothered with technology while travelling (apart from the odd email or Facebook message to those at home). But I was essentially forced to use it in Kenya last June so I could regularly update my blog and keep in touch with university tutors and mentors.

I discovered the joys of the dongle and found I could get 3G signal in the middle of the Chalbi Desert (who’d have thunk it, ey?)!

Later that year technology helped me get in touch with the BBC (and concerned friends and family) during the September Athens protests – I even got a phonecall from them asking for my pictures and an on-air interview (technology then failed me after I dropped my phone down the toilet – but that’s another story).

While the nature of my trips were not relaxing anyway (Kenya was a research trip and the Athens protests kind of speak for themselves), I wonder if all this being in touch through all this technology hinders our chance to relax and really enjoy our time away.

Are you always switched on abroad, or are you a travelling technophobe? Let me know your thoughts.

Lottie Gross 23/09/13    General travel chat Link Report

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Good question, I feel I am constantly in two minds about this one. Technology is good, in moderation. It is very easy to spend a lot of your time glued to your smartphone/tablet/computer/GPS device or to go round looking at everything through a camera lens. So much that interactions with other people, by which I mainly mean the local people, are reduced, in favour of virtual interactions. An example is GPS, if I have a smartphone with an online or preloaded offline map, and I’m trying to find my way, it’s easier to use that, whereas if I didn’t have it I would have to ask somebody, and it might take longer, and I might get lost. There is also a danger of relying on the internet too much: looking up everything wherever you go is helpful but it gives you a skewed impression of the place. In principle it’s not that different to books and maps but technology does make it too easy sometimes and you have to learn to strike the right balance.

22camels 23/09/13    Link Report

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  • I’ve loved technology since I got my first computer in 1981. And the most fun of being involved all that time was seeing all the things that were just going to “change your life”, most of which aren’t around any longer ;)

    When I travel, I carry a phone. If ya want me, and know the number, feel free. If I’m gone more than 2 weeks, be assured that I’ll reply to that email you sent (probably). If not, and for all the rest (photos, blogs, Rough Guide travel site ;) ), wait’ll I get to whatever home I’m using at the moment…

    PirateAt50 24/09/13    Link Report

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  • Definitely a tough one, like 22camels I’ve got mixed feelings on this issue. In many ways technology is fantastic when travelling, until it stops you enjoying the moment and interacting with people.

    A phone, iPod and camera (or two!) will always be travel essentials for me. I’ve also become rather attached to my Power Monkey – a great little portable charger for all your devices, perfect for when your camera dies just before you reach Machu Picchu after a four day Inca Trail trek! However, for everything else, I think for now I will stick to once in a while popping into internet cafes…

    Olivia Rawes 25/09/13    Link Report

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  • I have to admit – carrying around my laptop was a huge burden in Kenya. It was like I was carrying a newborn child, I let no one near my bag and wouldn’t let the laptop out of my sight! I must have seemed crazy in some instances but the laptop survived and lives to tell the tale!

    I always imagine it would be refreshing to travel light, with no camera, phone or any expensive electronic devices – but the reality is, I am a sucker for a good photo opportunity and the journalist in me would never let that happen!

    Lottie Gross 25/09/13    Link Report

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  • One last thing, then I’ll stop answering my own posts :P

    This is a really interesting piece on the subject in hand:

    I find this particularly interesting: “For me, the most tranquil time I’ve spent in years wasn’t due to vacation, holidays or sickness—it was in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, when I lost electricity, cell service and the Internet. Of course, for so many others that horrific storm was anything but peaceful, so it’s ironic when a calamity can restore serenity.”

    Is it true what one traveller says, if “I am not producing anything, I AM nothing”?

    Lottie Gross 25/09/13    Link Report

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  • When I’m travelling for work I spend the whole time – 24 hours a day – unhealthily at the beck and call of the red flashing blackberry alert light. Because I’m in a different time zone I feel inexplicably bound to be on call regardless of the time, just because technology means that I can.

    But when I’m travelling for pleasure I can’t wait to abdicate all responsibility for communication of any sort. My husband keeps his phone on in case of calamity, I don’t switch mine on at all. I take very very few photographs because I’m a rubbish photographer, I know I’ll never look at them again and I have a memory I can use if I need to recall something later. I don’t care what’s in the news at home, I don’t need to look at twitter, no-one back home needs a blow-by-blow account of where I am and what I had for breakfast. If something really exciting happens, I’ll tell them when I get back, or write it down on a piece of paper. There’s nothing less conducive to relaxation and spontaneous experience than the pressing anxiety to document and broadcast every step you take. The person I’m travelling with is the only one I want to share with. And if we’re being brutally honest with ourselves, no-one on the receiving end of blogs, tweets or facebook posts really cares anyway.

    Plus, think of the luggage weight and space saved in leaving behind every cable, adapter and charger known to humankind…

    Clare Currie 26/09/13    Link Report

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  • I think the fact that people are booking vacations pitched specifically as “unplugged” or “technology-free” speaks both to our desires to escape and our difficulties in doing so. Has anyone ever taken one of these types of vacations? Or a self-imposed “vacation from technology” while at home?

    Rebecca Behan 26/09/13    Link Report

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