Last year on my cruise to Norway, I only used the Internet a couple of times. D had gotten a very limited data plan to use in Europe and so we used it sparingly during the week (I namely wanted to check out the birthday greetings I had gotten on Facebook since I rang in the big 3-0 while on the cruise).
While I’m quite addicted to the Internet when at home (I’m notorious for doing nothing but being online all evening after I get home from work even though there are many more pressing things I could be doing…), when I travel, it’s a different story. Sure, I upload some photos while I’m still traveling to my blog’s Facebook page, but I do that more for living in the moment. I’m not a full-time traveler, my trips are far and few and while there’s nothing wrong with sharing photos well after the trip is over, it’s also nice to share them when they’re live. It was such a great feeling sharing a photo of me at Machu Picchu the same day I visited.
But you see, I didn’t get my first smart phone until a couple of years ago. During my time in Copenhagen, I didn’t purchase a SIM card so I could actively tweet or share photos on Instagram or more likely, waste time on the Internet while in my hotel room at night. Because the fact of the matter is, there’s something so nice about unplugging while traveling. About not seeing what trivial and generally silly things friends are posting on Facebook; about not checking blog stats that in all honesty don’t need checking; about being forced to actually live in the moment with your eyes wide open, not on the tiny metal screen before you.
I suppose because I’m not a full-time traveler, I have no interest in the latest social media phenomenon to hit the market, Snapchat. For starters, I think now more than ever, individuals are oversharing their lives thanks to platforms like Snapchat. They’re at a destination and instead of taking it all in, they’re “Snapchatting” away (it’s become an unofficial verb I suppose). They’re missing the fundamental meaning of Hans Christian Andersen’s famous quote, “to travel is to live.”
One of my favorite photos is one of a concert scene where almost all of the concert goers are pictured with phones in hand save for one, an elderly woman who has a hint of a smile on her face as she just listens to the music being played. That’s how travel should be, about simply enjoying it, not tied to how many views you get, how many comments are left, or how popular you are by the number of likes.
Looking back, I’m eternally glad I had my study abroad experiences long before social media and smart phones were the norms. I’m glad I had the experience of living and studying in foreign countries in a “pure” sense. Young people today don’t know of a world sans smart phones, sans 24/7 access to the Internet, to Snapchat, to Facebook. My three study abroad experiences were richer simply because I was 100% there.
I truly enjoy unplugging while traveling. Even today in 2016 as a 31 year old who’s still interested in growing her blog and brand, I’m content with being the “old fashioned” travel blogger. Because you know what? It’s the old fashioned travel bloggers I genuinely admire and look up to. Those individuals who came along before Snapchat and Twitter. Who shared their travels through their pen, a sketchbook, and maybe a Brownie camera.