Personal technology, in more and more forms, is finding its way into many a traveler’s pack. And they should be, they’re important and innovative tools. A smartphone with travel apps can be very useful for figuring out what’s to do in a neighborhood and helps keep you connected to fellow travelers and friends, a GPS can get you out of a bind and a Kindle will give you something to do with all that free time on trains, planes and automobiles (but not while you’re driving, thanks). However, overuse of them can lead to a lack of ever finding yourself utterly, completely and hopelessly lost.
“But wait, oh wise wordsmith. You’re suggesting getting lost is a good thing?”
I am indeed, valued reader!
While I always recommend bringing at least a good map with you on a journey to a new place (and always when you’re trekking outdoors, as it’s one of the Ten Essentials), relying only on offerings of eateries and exhibits found in a travel app and never wandering off-course from your phone’s GPS means you never get the chance to serendipitously happen upon an interesting discovery of your own. Travel apps on a smartphone, such as TripAdvisor, can be very valuable troves of information and reviews of a sight, an exhibit or a restaurant. The same goes for travel guidebooks loaded onto a Kindle. But don’t be a slave to reviews – they may not be written by travelers with the same interests and needs as your intrepid self.
I am, of course, a huge fan of tech – but I also know the value in occasionally turning it off. Become one with being lost, young grasshopper, and you will find something eventually. Walk around a neighborhood, stray a little and pop into a place that looks like it may be promising. Sure, you’re taking a chance – and I don’t recommend getting purposefully lost in a neighborhood that just doesn’t feel safe – but I’ve discovered many a great find abroad without putting all my trust into the words of other travelers, following my instincts and asking locals. Side benefit of that last one: You get to meet locals!
Written while listening to: Help, I’m Alive – Metric, Fantasies