Balancing Travel and Technology

My recent travel tip article about avoiding homesickness got me thinking about how intertwined technology and travel are while on the road. Here are my tips for finding that much-needed balance between the two.

1) Social Media 

There’s no way around it. We all love social media and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. While Facebook and Twitter are ideal methods for keeping in touch with our loved ones, I try to keep the use to a minimum. For one thing, a lot of places around the world don’t have the best internet connection so there may be times when you don’t have the option of posting a picture or messaging a friend back home. Try designating a time and place (either in the morning or evening) and take the rest of the day to enjoy your surroundings.

2) Postcards

Let’s be honest. Everyone loves getting mail especially since so much is done these day via the web. No matter how hard I play it off, I can’t help but smile when I receive a letter or postcard in the mail. Another reason to opt for the old-fashion but never out of style postcard is because a lot of people actually keep a collection. It’s a way to make your friends and family involved during your trip (if not a bit jealous – although that shouldn’t be the reason to send one). I used to collect postcards simply because the pictures were way better than any my camera could take.

3) Calling Cards

Don’t underestimate the Calling Card. While Skype and other internet dependent technologies are affordable, you won’t always have an internet connection and investing in a calling card is a good resource to use. NobelCom sells prepaid phone cards and they do a good job of tailoring their prices to the younger market, which is always a perk if you are on a backpacking budget. At the end of the day, this method of calling home saves a ton of money rather than paying for an international plan and paying high fees.

4) Enjoy the Moment

Technology is a great thing but it should’t overpower your trip. While it’s tempting to tweet that you just bungee jumped or swam with sharks, the tweeting and Facebook picture posting can wait. The focus should be on the experience and not the response. Travel is about living in the moment and learning more about yourself through your surroundings. This is easier done away from your computer. That said, as a travel writing “bohemian”, I do understand the need to use these technologies to engage your readers.

5) Try Talking

One might think that this is another obvious choice but a lot of times people don’t even feel like communicating with a real person. I know people who purposely call others when they know they won’t be available. I’ve also seen the dreaded “oh no – a live person answered and not an automated recording” face. Personally, despite being naturally shy, I’ll always pick the human person over the fake recording. The same should be true during travel. It’s better to ask a local about where to eat and drink than looking in your guidebook designed for tourists.

*This post made possible in part by NobleCom.

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18 Comments

  1. fotoeins | Henry April 13, 2012  11:54 am Reply

    Thanks for your post, Megan. I like sending postcards, as I've discovered from talking with my friends that (1) postcards are a great visual reminder of where I've been, (2) postcards let my friends know I'm thinking about them, and (3) the art of handwriting a letter, a postcard, anything is becoming lost - writing a postcard adds yet another personal touch.

  2. Kurt April 13, 2012  12:21 pm Reply

    Great tips. I think I have used NobelCom a few times in my travels. I'm always surprised at the amount of postcards that I accumulate while traveling too. That and the ones I always forget to mail.
    Kurt recently posted..The Magic Gardens of South PhiladelphiaMy Profile

  3. Ross April 13, 2012  8:35 pm Reply

    I am not into social media much. Still no Facebook or Twitter and just started Google+. But I still get caught up with finding internet access way too often when traveling. I do like to find a quiet place to rest and write a few postcards. The helpful tip for me is to talk to locals more. Simply asking them things like where to eat instead of relying on guide books will help. Thanks.
    Ross recently posted..Saint-Maurice-aux-Riches-HommesMy Profile

    • Megan April 15, 2012  11:11 am Reply

      Great feedback Ross - I find myself relying on Internet while traveling too. Finding a quiet place is a great tip for finding balance!
      Megan recently posted..Balancing Travel and TechnologyMy Profile

  4. Hogga April 14, 2012  1:41 pm Reply

    I always MEAN to send postcards, and sometimes I even buy them... but then I forget. Does that make me a bad person? lol
    Hogga recently posted..Don’t Judge Me!My Profile

  5. Wanderplex April 24, 2012  2:12 pm Reply

    All great tips and I especially agree with your suggestion to "enjoy the moment". I'm always amazed when I see people posting on FB or twitter about something cool they're doing and in my head I'm thinking, well that's great, but why don't you just *go and do it*! You don't need me to validate your experience, just enjoy it for what it is and share it later!!
    Wanderplex recently posted..Don’t let the weather put a damper on your vacation: 17 ideas for a rainy dayMy Profile

    • Megan April 27, 2012  8:55 am Reply

      Glad to know I'm not the only one who gets annoyed by that! I agree, it's better to enjoy the moment in the moment and then tweet about it :)
      Megan recently posted..Bohemian Trails Gets CrownedMy Profile

  6. matthew d lyons March 23, 2014  7:53 am Reply

    Good list. I have become pretty mindful of when I travel, thanks to my year off of social media. Well... except for sending postcards. I'm usually better at buying them, the sending.

    • Megan Eileen McDonough March 23, 2014  10:51 am Reply

      Wow, good for you Matthew! I always mean to buy postcards but I so often forget.

 

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