I love travel and I love the internet. It’s sort of a given when you start a travel blog and studied in an IT related field but this is less about that and more about how my day-to-day travel life has benefited due to access to the internet. Sure it’s handy to have as a replacement for those guidebooks everybody keeps talking about as a dying market. There are after all a million and one websites, blogs, facebook pages, twitter accounts and more out there all aimed at giving you that authentic travel experience.
But where the internet has really made travel easier for me is in its convenience. I love a good map as much as the next person but after said map has had you walk around in circles for an hour dragging your luggage looking for the elusive address you are after how much do you love it then? Wouldn’t it be easier to google map yourself to your hotel/hostel/B&B and then take the map and your mobile internet device with you later to wander the streets and get lost in the moment?
Isn’t it easier to have your boarding pass saved directly to your email or app on your phone ready to be retrieved than trying to find a printer to print it yourself? How about looking up the timetable for the next bus or train in real time when you’re standing at a stop in a country you don’t know the language of? Or getting local updated tips on restaurants, hotels, towns with apps like foursquare which are used the world over?
Sure there are legitimate ways to deal with all the above that don’t require any form of internet connection and many would say speaking to locals and interacting with the world without using technology is a better way to travel. But when I use the internet to do exactly the same thing in my home country why should I change what I do just to fit that authentic model expected by travellers and tourists that have gone before me. After all there is no right or wrong way to travel.
We are a generation of internet addicts so it’s no wonder in the last 12-24 months there has been such a surge in travel companies all looking to offer global roaming sim cards and internet devices to travellers at cheaper and cheaper rates. These providers are still charging a premium for the internet experience but it’s only a matter of time before exorbitant roaming costs are a thing of the past and we no longer need to seek out local sim cards in each country upon arrival.
I see the internet as is the supplemental tool to making your travel life less stressful. Some might say those who depend on the internet are lazy, I call it being resourceful. It opens up travel to those who might not have the confidence to tackle the world with just a suitcase and a smile, call it your safety blanket if you like. If more people are travelling then more people are getting a better appreciation of the world we all live in and maybe growing as people at the same time and that can’ be bad.
What do you think, does having access to the internet make travel easier for you or do you think it’s ruining the experience?
I would disagree that using the internet equals being lazy. If you can save time by using the resources available, why not? You just have that much more time to enjoy your destination. However the trick is to not spend so much time researching that you are actually having the opposite effect.
I’ve found that online recommendations by fellow travelers has enhanced my experience, and is more comparable to getting a recommendation from a friend. And as a result I have checked out places that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Lesser known places don’t always make the guidebooks.
I’d say the only negative I’ve seen is when someone can’t tear themselves away from the internet/social media/email to enjoy where they are. So far, I haven’t gotten to that point.
Denise I agree, better to tap into a resource that is available and potentailly more up to date than ignore it because its not the thing to do.
I’d say finding the balance is the hardest thing to do but if used for making your day to day life easier by finding recommendations on things to do/see/eat and balancing with keeping family and friends updated on what you do I think its a great tool.
I still run into people who say you should be travelling the old school way so to speak but these days travelling like that is going to mean you miss a lot as well.
Ahh I have mixed emotions about this. I definitely like having the internet when I travel, it’s a bit of a comfort, but if I find myself with a dead phone or out of range I find it quite nice to be without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google etc.
Sammy I agree its good to have breaks from it, all about balance in that regard.
But it’s the comfort or convenience factor I’ve found it to be the most helpful for. I found an amazing burger place in Paris because I looked up on foursquare and found it as a recommendation from many locals and its saved me from missing many buses and trains due to being able to have real time access to it.
I guess its about how you use it, providing you don’t spend hours glued to it and actually get outside and look with your own eyes it’s a great tool.
I think the internet is a great resource for traveling. Using it frees up a lot of time, which I can then use to enjoy the place I’m visiting more.
However I do agree that one shouldn’t be glued to the internet during their whole trip– that’s just ruining it! We saw a lot of people this past week laying out on the beach in the Maldives, just sitting there on their iphones or ipads. What a waste!
Beth I think the biggest problem with people that do take the internet with them on trips is balance of enjoying where you are. Using it to get around, and make your day to day travel is great but spending all day with it really is over the top.
I agree, the internet is a very useful resource. I love using it when travelling; it’s very handy to get quick directions or maps, keep in touch with family while overseas, etc. I try not to use it too much; I want to enjoy the experience, not sit on my phone texting. So it can be very very useful; just have to limit it a bit.
Marsha thats always the hardest part, moderating your use. Especially if friends/family know they can get a hold of you.
Cool post and interesting topic, I actually just wrote about this as I was thinking is the internet helping or hindering our travel experiences? I agree that it is all about moderation, the internet is such a great resource and way to connect to people while travelling. But also I think there is a time to log off and experience things in a simpler way.
Hi Eleisha, I agree its an invaluable tool for travel these days. I don’t know how many things I’ve found with help from the internet in my travels that I would have otherwise missed if I’d not looked. Logging off is the biggest thing though, great to have it but if you are looking things up or distracted by messages every 5 min its not ideal.
Great post… I’m one of those people who loves to be connected at times (what me, a twitter addict), but I also love those holidays where you’re cut off from technology. When I discovered I not only had no wifi but no mobile coverage in Samoa it was unnerving at first, then a blessing. I’m not sure if it was digital detox or purely Samoa’s charms but days felt like weeks in the best possible way.
Amanda there is always that sudden OMG moment when you learn there is going to be no wifi. I tend to be fine with it when I know I’m going to be without but due to my work I much prefer to plan for having no wifi so clients don’t get upset with me for not answering emails.