I just came across an older New York Times blog post by Frank Bruni in which he explores what it means to travel the world accompanied by all the devices we now carry with us. Without belaboring it, Bruni’s point is that we can travel thousands of miles from home, and still miss the experiences that inspired us to travel in the first place.
I love technology as much as the next person, and its uses particularly while traveling. No matter where I am, I’m able to broaden my professional network through the magic of LinkedIn, connect with old friends on Facebook, stay up-to-the minute on everything via Twitter, reserve affordable lodging on AirBnB, explore what dabbin’ (the dance!) is so I understand what my kids are up to, etc. But taken to its extreme, I could also make the mistake of insulating myself from all the bumps and wrinkles that arise through travel by tethering myself so closely to my iPhone that I miss the point of the trip in the first place.
I am so grateful to have studied abroad before the internet made it possible to be in frequent and low-cost contact with friends and family at home. Instead, when I left for a semester in Ecuador and a subsequent one in Spain, I knew could anticipate letters and a phone call or two from those nearest and dearest to me, but that otherwise, it was up to me to get up and go. In the most wonderful and necessary way, this un-tethering forced me to explore my surroundings and to make a life for myself. As a result, I got up and went, making friends, getting lost, seeing sights I would have missed otherwise.
Tell me how you un-tether at home and while traveling. It isn’t as easy as it sounds!