Imagine a time when people went on a trip and you wouldn’t hear from them for the whole duration of said adventure: Welcome to traveling the world in the 20th century (or 19th for that matter)! It was a time when people had a lot more baggage – schlepping luggage full of travel guides, cameras and address books – while not having any contact with anyone who stayed at home (yes, this was a world before cell phones!).
Back in the days everything was a #latergram
In the olden days, you went to see off your friends at the airport. Then, depending on the various postal services around the world, you’d receive a postcard in the mail (often one or two weeks later – oh, the joys of snail mail!). A little later, once a gazillion rolls of film had been developed (yes, developed!), you’d meet your friends and look at assorted moments of their vacation. Sometimes, people recorded their trips on a bulky video camera and you were invited over to finger food and endless screenings of camel rides, sprinkled with shaky shots of ruins and sunsets. Back then, you had no chance of just not paying attention or simply skipping to the good parts, like you can with online videos: You were watching a video while the director/actor/producer of said video was watching you watch them on the screen!
Today’s travelers are on a 24/7 loop: travel, snap, share, repeat
Today, everyone can witness our vacation: We photograph the packing process, we check in at the airport – both with the airline and on social media channels – and we might even live-tweet the flight because who doesn’t like surfing above the clouds (for the lucky few flying on airlines with wifi on board!) Once we arrive at the destination, we send a quick text to our mom, Instagram a picture of #lunch, before live-streaming our first skydive. Then we update our Facebook feed with photos of the beautiful beach, leave a review of the restaurant we had dinner at while snapchatting away with friends back home. Before we go to bed, we book a diving lesson online and if the jet lag keeps us awake, we Skype with our best friend back home. When we return from our trip, everyone usually already knows everything and if not, we just send them a link to a website with all the photos…
The dangers of being over-connected
Old-school travel meant that everything that was not part of the luggage was not part of the vacation: out of sight, out of mind. Today, our non-vacation life is just a click away and our phone is our constant companion. Wi-Fi passwords, Internet reception, and electrical outlets are always on our minds and sometimes even more important than the view from the hotel. We look at things through a lens – or even worse, witness them through someone else’s eyes – and can miss out on beautiful views, adventures, and experiences while posting things online.
Vacation communication in the 21st century: Use responsibly
But don’t get me wrong, having a smartphone on vacation can be super handy – if used responsibly. You have everything you need in your phone: There are maps, reservations, and confirmations, topped off with more hotels, schedules, and reviews than you can handle. You can read everything about any place – on a device that weighs hardly anything. Most smartphones also take pretty good photos, so you don’t have to plan for camera space in your luggage. Since it’s so easy to stay in touch with people, traveling and being abroad for a longer period of time has also become easier – we do not have to be away from our loved ones for weeks on end. The trick to all of this is to use the phone as a means to make the vacation more convenient – not to constantly stay connected to our non-vacation life and spend more time online than offline.
Show, don’t tell (it’s all about emojis, people!)
One trick to taking your smartphone on vacation is to reduce the amount of time spent online by using only selected platform and focus on images – a photo says more than a thousand words, after all (here are our top tips for travel photography). Another way to take this “show, don’t tell”- approach to the next level is to use emojis: the ultimate way of saying something in the least amount of time and possibly the perfect solution for travelers. Emojis cross language barriers like a boss, they save time and are generally awesome. Luckily for all explorers out there, our very own Travelmojis perfectly combine travel and fun to make communication a breeze.
Find the right balance
As with everything in life – from standing in front of that all-you-can-eat buffet at your hotel to using your phone on vacation – it’s all about finding the right mix and the perfect balance. Vacations should be a relaxing and rejuvenating break from our regular lives, including our phone habits. After all, who travels for hours to do exactly what we can do at the bus stop at home? The goal of exploring the world should not be to win the Internet with countless posts and constant contact. A great trip is all about unplugging after all – and broadening those offline horizons!