Note: This post is meant to address the philosophy of connected travel, watch for a future post on some of the cost issues and unforeseen pros and cons of traveling while connected including the story of how Ish’s iPhone met an untimely death in an Ecuadorian toilet.
There has been a lot of discussion online about whether one can really enjoy travel to a foreign destination with an iPhone in your hand. The argument is that that electronic tether to home keeps you from truly experiencing the destination you’re visiting.
Is there room, greater minds than mine ask, for the internet in an authentic travel experience? Or does the very act of connecting to the internet mean that you really haven’t left home at all?
After a lot of thinking (and some googling on my iPhone) I’ve come to the conclusion that… I have no idea.
I can only tell you what I’ve experienced over the last 80 days of traveling with my technology along for the ride.
Before we left Toronto I convinced myself that the gadgets we were carrying were a necessity of my work. My trip is different, the argument with myself went, because I’m blogging , writing articles for newspapers and magazines and educating two children as we go. I need to stay connected.
But along the way I’ve learned something else.
I like being connected while I travel.
Not just in the hotel room but while we’re experiencing the world as well.
Being able to share our plans on Twitter (@greenwooddavis) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/globetrottingmama) has enhanced our experience. Instead of simply taking our map and hitting the road – which probably has its benefits too – we’ve carried our friends and family (and the electronic map!) with us. Sharing our highs and lows and funny/emotional moments as they happen or shortly after with the people we would’ve shared them with at home.
We Skype with the grandparents and I get to see my girlfriends online. The boys send emails home or play online video games. Ish can check his sports scores and source out a good place to watch the game.
And there’s been another benefit.
Along the way we’ve met people – mainly Ish again – who are also traveling, who have been to the places we’ve been or to the ones we’re planning to go. We’re able to keep in touch with them and develop those friendships through email and social media as well. And because the phone is with us, we don’t have to stop moving and exploring to do it.
There are also the people we’ve never met but who have answered a question on Twitter or contributed to our hashtag (#RTWFam) which has allowed us to benefit from their experience as well.
We’ve found great restaurants, amazing tour guides, unique accommodations and new friends – all because we stayed connected.
And of course having the phone adds a bit of security to our trip. We know we can call the hotel, a taxi, the police in any city we’re in without fear of not having the language to ask for a phone or explain our situation.
I can’t pretend that our time online doesn’t take away from our time with each other but here’s the thing: I see it as a pro.
There may be people on this planet who are capable of 24/7 every day, all day with no one but their spouse and children. We have discovered we are not that family.
Even the kids need the break from time to time.
And really when you think about it isn’t 22/7 still enough?
We’ve connected with each other in ways we had hoped for and ways we never imagined. But we’ve also come to see that without our connection to the rest of the planet, this trip would be a very different experience.
I don’t know if it would be better or worse.
I just know it wouldn’t be what it is now.
And I like where this trip is going.
What about you? Would you take your PDA on your next trip?
Disclosure: Heather’s Roaming plan is sponsored by Rogers Canada. Her obligation is to review the roaming options but there is no restriction on whether she does so in a positive or negative light. All opinions,as always, are her own.
Well, I think you know how I feel about my phone ;) So I’m with you sister! There’s a time to disconnect and I know you can do that. But hello? You’re travelling for a year, not a one week all-inclusive. Of course you need to stay connected. Plus, I couldn’t live without your updates. Keep ’em coming ;)
I’ll do my best to keep them coming. I get so much energy from the feedback I get here, on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading.
Pfft! We leave in January for 12 months and we are taking 2 iPads, an iPhone, a MacBook and 5 iPods!!!!!!!!!!! I wouldn’t have it any other way!! Headphones will give us some alone time even if we are all together and computers will cover off website updates and kids schooling! I think I’d be scared to go without our links to the world!!!
I think those who don’t like that I’m so connected are probably shorter term travelers. I get that sometimes a weekend away with the family might be ruined by someone on their phone the whole time, but you’re right – this is a whole year we’re talking about. Totally different.
Having your iPhone has been a great way of staying in touch while reserving the flexibility of disconnecting whenever you need to.
It certainly completes the idea of vicarious travel for interested parties.
The technology is here! Utilize it to the maximum benefit!!!
Rock on mama !!!!
Well, you’ve made an excellent case. A week, I can understand not being connected, but a year? Pfffst.
Wow! what an experience for all of you!
I am going to Ecuador & the Gallapagos with Gap adventures I Feb ..the Inland & Amazon + the 10 day Gallapagos . At 70 years of age, I wish I would have done what you are doing with your kids!
Good on you. Thanks for the great article in the Toronto Star re . The sharks. I hope I am so lucky…can’t wait.. This trip is on the top of my Bucket List….so much to see..so much to experience!
Enjoy! Happy trails
You’re going to love it! The group we joined for Galapagos had just done the inland and Amazon portion of the trip and raved about it. Please let me know how you enjoy it and if you see Sambo please say hi for us.
I’m just spending a day reading your whole year, one blog after another and they are very good.. I also use my blackberry when I travel and found this particular blog to be interesting.. I like to stay in touch with family and also know they appreciate ‘travelling along’ with me..