We know why you’d want to have your phone with you at all times.
BUT is it the best thing for your adventure?
1. Truly disconnect
Traveling is all about building confidence, finding out more about yourself, meeting new people and having unique experiences. The best way to do this is to disconnect from home for a while, which means turning off your mobile device!
This allows you to switch off your mind from what your friends are doing at home and which celebrity or politician has recently fallen out of love with the media. If you’re not thinking about home constantly, you’re more likely to fully immerse yourself in your experience abroad.
Oh, and if your parents aren’t looking for constant online updates, check-ins and text messages, they’ll learn to worry less!
2. Create firsthand memories
Have you been to a music festival recently? Festivals like Glastonbury used to be filled with people uniting in their love of music, staring lovingly at artists as they performed and soaking up every sound and sight being projected from the stage. Now the audiences are filled with people trying to get the best possible recording of their favorite singers, which means they are focused on their device and not on the live performance, which they’ve often waited a year to see!
Watching a video later on Facebook or YouTube is great but it will never be as good as seeing something with your own eyes and creating a unique memory of your own. As one person on this Reddit thread says, “it seems to be more of bragging that you’re there than trying to remember the show”.
And don’t get us started on the queues of people missing out on the festival experience because they are standing in lines waiting for an opportunity to charge their phone for an hour!
3. Don’t make yourself a target
When iPods first hit the market nearly 15 years ago, they were new, expensive and desirable, which resulted in public warnings aimed at people wearing white headphones, which gave away the fact they had an iPod in their pocket. With the wide adoption of Apple and Android products, this is no longer a major issue in developed, urban locations around the world.
However, there are places all over the world where this type of technology isn’t widely accessible and will immediately set you apart as a tourist carrying valuables.
On the safety topic, remember that checking in to a venue via an App means that your parents know where you are…but so do total strangers.
Be sensible, particularly when travelling alone and think about where it’s best to send a private text or message to those who love you, instead of announcing your location to the world.
4. Local recommendations vs online reviews
Websites like TripAdvisor and Yelp have been great as a general source of information to find out about local restaurants, accommodation and sightseeing. However, would you trust an anonymous post online over a local member of the community where you are staying?
Yes, an online review might tell you where the best pizza is but wouldn’t you like to find out about local, authentic places which serve the local delicacies – probably at a fraction of the price?
These are the stories you’ll go home and tell your friends about, not the one where you ended up in a café full of tourists, eating mediocre “western” food.
5. Get to know the locals
One of the joys of travelling, and especially immersion travel, is getting to know the local people.
Don’t be that person that is more interested in taking a picture of them than getting to know them!
So, should you turn it off or not?
From a selfish point of view, we love to see the social media photo updates posted online by people on our programs but we also don’t want people to miss a thing while they’re traveling to a new destination!
Ultimately, you want to find a healthy balance between having your hand glued to your phone and cutting yourself off from the world.
How to Keep a Balance
- Set realistic expectations with your family
Share a rough itinerary with people before you leave home, so they have an idea of where you will be on certain dates. Make sure they know that you may move things around a little and that you will call or text once a week, or at agreed intervals, to let them know you’re safe and well. Tell them you will check your phone once every two days, so if they need to contact you urgently they won’t panic if there is a delay in your response.
- Limit your screen time
Don’t spend your time distracted by your phone. Turn off notifications and even disable some social media Apps before you go, so you won’t be tempted to keep glancing to see who is posting what on Snapchat! Allow yourself ten minutes a day to turn on your phone and reconnect with home but stick to your rules.
- Keep yourself and your valuables safe
Don’t wave your phone around, don’t constantly check in places and tuck it away somewhere safe, where it won’t make you a target. The less your phone is on display, the safer you (and it) will be!
- Use moderation when capturing memories on your phone
Don’t miss out on seeing things with your own eyes because you’re busy trying to set up the perfect selfie or photograph on safari. Did you go all that way for the experience or to record the experience? (The answer should only be the latter if you’re a professional photographer!).
Also remember that things that seem unusual to us are a way of life for people in other parts of the world, so be respectful of the local culture and don’t get too snap happy with your camera – ask permission if you want to take photos of people but use common sense and moderation before getting to that point. Do you really need to take photos of local people collecting water or can you sit back, absorb what you see and educate people when you get home instead?
In short, live for the moment, not your social media!
If you’re wanting a memorable summer, have a look at our Kenya summer program…