Featured, Gear and Tech, Travel Narrative

Unplugged: Travel Without Tech

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I’ve not gone on a vacation since 2008.

That’s a bold statement for someone with a travel blog; a very bold statement for someone with tens of thousands of photos of places-where-she-does-not-live.  Just this morning I transferred eighteen months’ worth of iPhone photos to my Macbook, and the following images flashed across my screen: New Orleans, Tulum, Grand Cayman, Disney World, San Francisco, Yosemite, Napa, Bermuda, New York City, Montreal, Cape Cod, Shenandoah, Pittsburgh, Miami, New York City some more and New Orleans again.  And I’m confident I’m forgetting something, somewhere.

But at no time during any of those trips did I actually vacate.

In a few short days, I’m going on a trip.  I’m not even telling you where, because…well…the point is to be on vacation (though I can tell you that it is a repeat visit to a destination that may already be listed above).  And I’m seriously considering leaving some-or-all of my technology behind.  Here’s why:

I’m becoming one of those people who loves to fly.  Not because I like being squeezed into a coach seat; not because I particularly love the logo-embossed cookies on early-morning Delta flights (ok–I actually really do love those cookies).  But because, like many overly-plugged-in people before me, I welcome the ‘please shut down all electronic devices’ announcement right before takeoff.

I also love to drive.  Sometimes I drive really, really far away for no good reason.  I feel the same way about driving as most old men feel about fishing–it is a relaxing respite from life.  Even when I’m in bumper to bumper traffic, at least I’m not glued to my phone or computer.  I have music, sunshine (or rain) and open road.  I’m moving forward–and that is all.

So I think I’d like to make this next trip tech-free.  But I have no idea how to do that.  Which brings me to my actual point:

What qualifies as distracting technology?

There are three things I’d never ordinarily leave home without–my iPhone, my Macbook, and my dSLR camera.  I’m thinking that’s two things too many.

Each of these items interrupts travel (and life) in different ways.  A camera alters your focus (no pun intended); when I travel with a camera (which is always) I look at the world differently.  I pause at different times and for different reasons.  A laptop eliminates downtime; even when I return to my room at the end of the day, there’s work to be done (or, worse, time to be wasted).  And an iPhone tethers you to your regular life in every way; emails, text messages, phone calls, the unrelenting pull of all forms of social media.  With a smart phone, you’re never really alone.  I used to think this was a good thing; a miracle of the modern age, even.  Now I’m not so sure.

So let’s say I take a trip and don’t take one of these three items.  Or let’s say I take a trip and don’t take two of these three items.  Which item or items should stay at home?  Why?  And what would a tech-free trip look like?  How would it even work?  Would the cost be worth the benefit?  Please weigh-in in the comment section below.  And then sit back and stare in wonder as I take my first vacation in almost five years.

 

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