Why You Should Disconnect While Traveling

cell phone

Image via goomomyuko

In this day and age, people don’t go anywhere without their electronics. Even backpackers who were once the ones roughing it and going off the beaten path have transformed into flashpackers who can’t go anywhere with their smartphones and tablets. On your next trip, I urge you to think twice about bringing your tech gear. Here’s why:

Safety

The more electronics you have, the more of a target you become. And, don’t think you have to have to be holding an expensive DSLR camera in your hand to get robbed. When in Brazil, a friend of mine quickly sent a text from his iPhone and put the device in his backpack. By the time we stopped for some pizza an hour later, the phone had been stolen without either of us noticing. Luckily, the thief wasn’t violent. However, you may not always be so lucky. Additionally, don’t assume your hotel room is a safe place to store your valuables. I’ve known many people who had items stolen, both at hostels and 5-star hotels.

You Save Money

Roaming fees, data charges, international calling, pay-per-minute rates. These all add up to one hefty and not-worth-it price tag. One phone bill I’ll never forget was from a month in Argentina – $1,081! I had barely even used the thing except to entertain myself from time to time on long bus rides. It was absolutely not worth the price, and I kicked myself for even having brought a phone in the first place. If you really need to contact someone, most cities have internet and Skype cafes.

dance

Image via gjrdesign

Cultural Immersion

When you’re constantly chatting on Facebook or emailing your friends from home, you become disconnected from the culture you’re visiting. Think about it. If you wake up and spend the morning on the computer, you’ve missed a chance to experience morning life in the town, or how people go about opening their shops or buying breakfast. This may sound inconsequential, but the loss of these moments takes you further away from the culture. Disconnect from your electronics, and live fully in the place you are.

Meet More People

Do you ever notice those people in a restaurant or at a party that seem engrossed in there texting conversations? Without even trying, they immediately put a sign on their heads that says “anti-social.” Don’t be one of those people. Put your electronics down, and see how much more approachable you become to those around you.

street food

Image via Joanho

More Experiences

This inverse math equation goes like this: the less time you spend on your tablet, smartphone or laptop, the more you do and see on your trip. For example, if you’re walking down the sidewalk while tweeting on your phone, you may miss an interesting cafe, a meal you’ve never seen or the everyday exchanges that go on between locals. Moreover, if you’re on a tour or visiting a site and playing on your iPad, you’re not fully experiencing the place. Disconnect from your gadgets in order to connect more to the place.

To Relax

Everyone deserves to get away from real life sometimes and relax. To truly do this, it’s important to disconnect. Without email access and a phone connection, you’ll have no choice but to stay away from work messages and problems at home. Those things will always be there, but while you’re on vacation, disconnect and allow yourself to get away.

4 Comments

  1. I agree. It’s a good idea to disconnect and be in the moment. If our heads are too busy looking at a screen, we’ll miss all the beautiful things around. Being engrossed with our technology is increasingly becoming a problem in society across all cultures since it can distract from socializing face to face. Live in the moment!

  2. Fantastic! As part of your point on relaxing it could be added that by leaving technology behind you remove a source of anxiety (that need to constantly check-in). Also, by not referring to the internet for every doubt (where is X building? where’s a good place to eat) you interact more with your surroundings and maybe even practic a foreign language, depending on where you are.
    Nice post.

    1. Absolutely! Before I was a full-time blogger I NEVER brought any electronics except my point-and-shoot camera. Now I have to bring my netbook to blog, but I still make sure to give myself some days where I’m disconnected. It’s so important!

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