Is Technology Ruining Our Travels?

There’s no doubt that technology has become an integral part of our lives, and travel is no exception. Indeed, that may be one of the parts of our lives that Zab and I, among countless other travellers, bloggers or not, rely most on technology.

Recently, however, I had a rather horrifying experience in Lübeck on my own when I sat down in a café to do some work with my laptop, only to find that it wouldn’t switch on. I may have overreacted a little on Facebook.

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(Spoiler: neither did the world or, nor was my laptop dead. Somehow, it had lost all of its charge and still works though the battery needs servicing. Don’t worry, it has an appointment.)

What I didn’t realise was quite how upsetting I would find this. I found it hard to enjoy the rest of my evening in Lübeck, and it wasn’t until I went back to my hotel room and plugged my laptop in and it came on again that I was able to relax.

This made me wonder, would I enjoy travelling more if we weren’t so reliant on or tied to the technology we carry with us? Or looked at more cynically: is technology ruining our travels?

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Zab and his iPhone

Increasingly often, I find myself reaching for my phone to take a photo of the amazing art, landscape or food before me just at the moment I am most impressed, awed or salivating, and would really get more out of the experience if I was just present and enjoyed being in that place at that particular moment.

Certainly, the photo could wait a few minutes, but the temptation is so immediate, almost impossible to resists, like an itch that begs to be scratched, even if it’s a horribly inflamed mosquito bite and you know that scratching it will only make it hurt more tomorrow.

A small part of this is due to Zab’s influence, no doubt. He is a tech geek, and will use any excuse to play with a gadget. It has become a running joke between us that mealtime should be respected as “screen-free time”.

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But I feel it’s also just something about the screens themselves.

The same reason I dislike televisions so much (because when one is on in the room, it’s impossible to look anywhere else) is exactly what draws me to pull my phone out of my pocket one more time even when I’m surrounded by cool, interesting or funny people, or open up my laptop even when I’m taking a break, enjoying reading my book or people watching in the café where I’m working.

The bigger problem here of course is that without any of this technology this blog, and indeed much of how we have constructed our work and lives as they are today would not exist. And we are certainly not the only ones doing this.

Perhaps it’s time for a digital detox.

But not just yet.

I’ve got to one more Foursquare check in to do, and then I need check Twitter, then I guess I should look at Facebook and Instagram too while I’m at it.

Oh god. Kill me now.