In last weeks post, I touched briefly on the use of our phones while we travel. I find it incredibly difficult to switch off while I’m away. The temptation to Instagram everything always lingers at the back of my mind and I hate that my first instinct to a beautiful moment is to take a picture of it to share with everyone back home. It’s surprisingly hard to get out of the habit of picking up your phone and opening up various apps or endlessly scrolling just for the sake of it.
Although we think of travel as a physical journey, a truly transformative trip is a mental one. For our generation, bringing our phones away with us is like bringing our whole world with us. Our phones provide access to our emails, our Calendar schedules and reminders, messages to our friends, access to the news and of course social media. But it’s not just our own world we’re bringing along with us, but the worlds of others too. We can know what our colleagues, friends and the Kardashians are up to with one tap. And while it’s nice to stay in contact with people back home (hello Whatsapp groups), sometime’s it’s not necessary to know absolutely everything that’s happening in your hometown.
The point is, you can travel to the most faraway place you can think of, but if you’re still conscious of what’s going on back home, or thinking about the reactions to the latest picture you’re going to post, then you’re not fully immersed in your surroundings. I’ve seen arguments against this saying it doesn’t take long to take one picture and upload it, but it’s usually not one take of the photo and once it’s uploaded you’ll still be checking to see who liked it. And if we’re being really honest, why do we feel the need to post that picture? We want people to see what a good time we’re having which means that we’re still thinking of what others think back home. How can you expect a change in mindset or perspective if your mind is still in the place that you’re hoping to leave behind? If you’re seeking a truly immersive experience, I think that switching off should mean switching off. No internet, no Instagram. Cold turkey.
Tips to make switching off a little easier:
Go old school and take a camera. That way you can still get snaps of what you’re doing, but it will mean you’re not tempted to start scrolling and you won’t be receiving messages or emails. If you don’t want to spend out, then why not try a disposable camera? They’re not only cheap but have the fun element of not seeing what the pics look like until you’re back.
Take an old phone with you. Like old old. Leave the smartphone at home and take one that you can’t use the internet on so that you can still let your family know that you’re safe.
If getting that Insta-worthy snap is of vital importance to you, there’s a handful of tour operators who offers group trips with your own personal photographer - meaning you can fully enjoy the experience without having to worry about someone getting that perfect photo of you. One of my favourites is El Camino.
Suggested reading: Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life by Katherine Ormerod. If you need something to encourage a digital detox fast, grab a copy of this book to see the effects that social media is having on our lives, our identities and even the ways we perceive the world. Ditch the phone and pack this in your suitcase instead.