In Australia do you always need to be on your Smartphone?
Let me take you to a time in place in the past. 15 years ago. I was 19 and was making my first trip backpacking overseas, destination: Thailand. It was a magical time in the travel world (at least that is my nostalgic self thinking here) and it was pre-mobile phone and smartphone days.
Well, that is not entirely true. Most of us had a Nokia phone. The good old Nokia 3310. It had 3 basic functions: Calls, text and the game snakes. Known for its indestructible frame but had; No data. No internet. Nothing of the sort.
The most knowledge I had of the my destination was my Lonely Planet Book, a resource I still use today.
When I arrived in Bangkok, I was terrified. I remember walking up and down Khao San Road for 3 days before finally venturing out to a travel agent to get a bus to Koh Samui.
I was 19, I had never left New Zealand and here I was, in a strange country alone.
On the bus, my trip finally started to turn from fear to freedom. I met other travellers, we all chatted, and when we finally arrived on the Island with my new found friends we shared a “songthaew” (taxi) to my accommodation (I had pre-booked which was silly, but the agent told me I should as the whole island would be full; it was the first time I got tricked in Thailand).
My confidence was growing. At the beachfront accommodation I met two cool New Yorkers over a beer. They had just arrived as well. My memories are vague but I remember exploring some waterfalls, hiring scooters, eating loads and meeting heaps of others travellers in the process.
Maybe I am getting old but in recent years I notice so many travellers attached to their phones. I was in a hostel in Cairns, Australia recently and everyone was “plugged-in”.
Headphones on and glued to their screens. Messaging friends from back home. Instagram. Facebook. Snapchat.
No one was talking. No one was sharing the common experiences. It was so-antisocial.
Of course travel socialising does still happen. Travellers still meet. Travellers still interact. Travellers still make friends. It just happens a lot less.
And it is always covered with the security of the connection of back home. We are so connected in this modern world that you can message and contact friends and family every hour or so.
Technology is great for so many reasons, don’t get me wrong. But, I have to be honest, I miss the days of a weekly email from an internet and cafe.
I miss sending or receiving a postcard.
I miss the days of meeting someone and spending time with them for a week and every time you would part to your own rooms you would say “meet you at the cafe at 7pm”, these days you say “Facebook me when you want to meet”.
I miss sitting next to someone on the bus and having a conversation together rather than having individual chats to friends back home using our smart phones.
I miss getting lost and having to ask for directions, now we just use Google maps to get out the predicament.
I think I am just nostalgic. But I miss the challenge and I miss the adventure of feeling completely unknown and free.
No phones or laptops in the common room between 6 – 9pm. The staff would not come in and scold you if you used your phone, but instead just politely ask you to use your phone outside or in your room.
I must say I loved it! People in the common room played games, talked, shared meals, shared stories. people were interacting, and not just with friends and family over the phone.
They were interacting in real life and through that bonding people would go out together with their new found friends the next day for a hike and explore.
It reminded me of the good old days. Every time I am in the Blue Mountains I stay at Flying Fox for this very reason. I meet travellers and I get a piece of nostalgia.
So when I say “leave you phone at home when you travel Australia”. I don’t mean leave it in your home country and travel for a year without one.
I am not sure many people including myself could or want to do that. I am just saying have a day without it sometimes, leave it at your home away from home in Australia. Maybe even have a few hours without in the evening.
How does 6 – 9pm sound? Have a break from being ‘plugged-in”.
Travel, make friends and build life long relationships when you are Australia, you don’t need you phone to do that. Send a postcard to your friends and family. Trust me, they will love it! Look up from your phone and see the world.
What do you think? Am I wrong? I am just turning into a grumpy traveller? Let me know in the comments below.