(original article is from Megan’s Travel Column on Life2PointOh, entitled Weekly Wanders)
As I look back on my month-long trip to South America, so many different images come to mind. A large percentage of these memories actually took place in various coffee shops. Why you ask? Well, let’s just say that South America is not quite up to speed on the whole wireless craze that many of us (myself included) take for granted here in the U.S.
Wi-Fi may translate to some as a basic life necessity, but when you are traveling, it’s best to stick to the basics and not rely too heavily on technology. Despite knowing that many countries aren’t as Internet-driven as others, I still fall victim to frustrations caused by a weak connection or no connection at all, which is why I’ve started changing my outlook on travel.
Outsmart your Smartphone: Let’s face it. As a twenty-something, many of us have smartphones. Yes, they are certainly amazing but it’s important to remember that many applications rely on Internet connection.
- Google Translate: This is a very helpful language translation tool that is not highly less effective when wandering the streets sans wi-fi. Make sure you learn a few key phrases in the language spoken in the city you are visiting before you hop off the place. This way, you won’t freak out when you can’t translate how to ask for something as simple (and necessary) as “Where is the bathroom?”
- Travel Guides: Many companies like NileGuide have developed free applications that offer travel tips about where to go in any given city. As long as you download the application and open specific pages before disconnecting from the Internet, you should be okay. Same goes for general pages on the internet. If the content is downloaded while still connected, it will stay on your phone for reference.
- Map: Many smartphones have a built-in map feature where you can find your exact location. Even when you are disconnected from the Internet, the map still works. A good tip is to activate the map on your phone before leaving your coffee shop. This way, you have already marked specific streets where you will be walking and won’t panic when you make a wrong turn.
Take advantage of being disconnected: There are few times in life when you can honestly use “no Internet” as an excuse for not responding to an email. Travel is one those times so why not take advantage of it? As much as you may want to Facebook and Tweet about the sites and sounds of a city, experiencing a foreign city with your fellow travel buds is much more memorable. You can always tell the world about your awesome adventures, but you only live them once.
Rely on Your Instincts: By not being attached to your phone,it forces you to face travel challenges head-on. It’s easy to rely on a smartphone, but trusting your own instincts is often just as effective. You will be more aware of your surroundings this way, which simultaneously enhances each experience. At the end of the day, you will feel proud of yourself for making it a day without your good old friend Google.