Is Smart Technology Making Us Dumb Travelers?

On to this week’s topic – smart technology. Is it making us dumb?
Again this week, my newsletter’s title was accidentally inspired by a moot from my daughter’s debate club. In trying to come up with an interesting topic that middle graders could discuss, I’d framed “does smart technology make us dumb”. We had an interesting discussion, especially given I was around some of the most technologically advanced students anywhere. Here are just some of the points we talked about.
The middle schoolers’ discussion made me reflect on my family’s use of smart technology. Does it make us dumb? Me dumb? My 11 year old will tell Siri to call her dad several times, rather than taking the 30 seconds to punch in number herself. Can you relate? I am nearly panicked if I misplace my cellphone Maybe that’s closer? And, I can barely remember my cell phone number, but can easily remember my childhood phone number, and that of more than a dozen friends and relatives from 40 years ago. Am I becoming too reliant on technology, and letting my brain go to mush? Does that impact my enjoyment of travel?

I read this – an interesting piece that asks ” Why technology helps us do more while understanding less about what we’re doing”. It made me think about whether smart technology makes us dumb travelers. Does technology interfere with us connecting with locals when we travel, and does it impact how we experience a destination? Do we take the easy way out too often?

Sure, there are great things about technology for traveling – iphones and their cameras, google maps, yelp, various apps. My daughter can take photos on her iphone, turn it into a movie on her mac, and send it around the world – moments after she’d experienced it herself. Technology is amazing.
But – does technology make us dumb travelers?
Are we so focused on social media, snap chat geofilters, and ticking off all the boxes on a ‘must see’ list when we visit a location that we don’t enjoy where we are?  Here are just some of the snap chat geofilters I’m guilty of haven taken the past few months.
My use of technology made me think about Pico Iyer, whom I’d met at Virtuoso week in 2015. Pico is a famed travel writer, author, and Ted Talk speaker. In Vegas, Pico spoke about people needing to get away from the  “weapons of mass distraction” . A new niche of travel is all about getting away from technology   Have you heard one of his Ted Talks, or read his book “The Art of Stillness?”
Watch one here:

Read a blog I’d written here  Some of the more memorable lines from Pico’s talk at Virtuoso are below.
  • Travel is how I decorate the house of my existence. Stillness is how I tried to give it foundation.
  • Experiences are the first part of travel. The second part is reflection.
  • Luxury is not about what you have, but what you don’t have to think about.
  • People are looking for silence, emptiness, and space. It is not a secret that luxury hotels are now offering digital detox programs. More and more, we see luxurious getaways offering campfires, they have telescopes and candlelight. Simplicity is what people are craving.
  • Travel is not about leaving home, but about leaving habits.
  • It used to be that access to information was what people sought. Now, people seek to get away from info. Freedom is the biggest thing wanted. The emptier a room, the readier you are to be filled up.
  • The infinity pool we all want to swim in is time.
  • The goal of travel is to be sent home a different person than when you left.
  • In an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow
  • As soon as you slow down, you remember and/or discover what it is you need to rejuvenate.
  • We should cherish long flights as an opportunity to decompress.
  • The absence of things is what makes things glorious.
  • Silence is a greater luxury than the view of a private fountain
  • You have to get on a plane to taste a place,smell it, sense it – you can’t rely on info you get from your iphone to experience. As soon as you arrive in a place, you ready yourself to experience it, and you should always pack your patience. But reliving the experience long after you return home, and reflecting on it, is equally important. Freeing yourself of the noise while you are at destination allows you to experience it more fully when you are there.
So, let’s focus on travel that doesn’t just get you leaving home, but gets you leaving habits.
Let’s get you, in this age of acceleration, to go slow. Let’s take you away from your iphone and technology, and get you somewhere that will inspire you.
Join me Monday – you can get some real life inspiration- go to Africa to see the wildlife. See  . Shoot me an email, or give me a call if you’d like to join us.
And see some inspiration below to get you away from your habits – whether it’s seeing a wildlife migration in Africa, taking a Caribbean cruise – or perhaps a Baja whale-watching/ yoga cruise, doing a foodie tour of Italy, or sleeping under the stars in Mongolia. I can help with all!
Remember:   In an age of acceleration, nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow.
Have a great week! And contact me to help you get away from your technology, and habits. I’ll share tips if you want to reform the dumb traveler in you, as well as ideas on how best to truly experience where you want to go.