Today there are travel apps for pretty much everything from flights to staying fit on the road, but are they really helping us travel better?
Imagine for a second traveling to a different continent without your phone, laptop, or tablet. I’m not going to lie; this thought sends a shiver of panic through my body. How would I book and check-in to my flights, find accommodations or know which train to catch? How would I find beautiful places to wine and dine without deep-diving Instagram?
As technology continues to advance, apps hold more and more influence over the way we move and see the world.
It’s hard to recall a time before Google – when we had to fend for ourselves and find our own way. Sounds like a true adventure to me….
However the apps keep coming, and half of them are things you never knew you needed to begin with. From being able to order food to your gate before departure to having an app plan your entire experience in a destination. The variety and depth of these apps is endless.
The real question comes when we have to ask ourselves whether or not all of these apps are setting the bar too high. We are constantly exposed to new destinations, competitively reviewed accommodations, flight comparisons and bespoke experiences. In reaching for the ultimate in everything, are we sacrificing the unexpected that often makes our travels true experiences?
So as “Solo Travel” becomes more popularized I propose a “Power Off” travel movement in order to get the full transformative experience that travel is all about at its roots. Imagine tales of old from trip to foreign lands sans phone. Imagine only a paper map and guidebooks, language barriers, missed transport connections and review-less accommodation without tech support. Letters arrived by telegram or traditional mail, often arriving after the sender/receiver had already moved on.
Unforseen challenges are the essence of “authentic” travel. In the pursuit of the most instagramable rooftop bar you could be missing out on the unexpected town, the chance meeting or the local experience that leads us on a new path. What stories will we have to return with if we share everything on social media? What experiences will test our resolve if its planned down to the dot with an app? Where is the freedom of not-knowing? And do we even still want it?
I recommend taking a break from the phone while traveling where you can, perhaps keeping a few of the most essential apps, and leaving the rest to chance as travel is intended. Try and make it back without the map, pratice a language without Google Translate or go without Instagram. You know maybe live a little.
There is a certain magic in the unknown. We should hold onto it while we can.