Is Smartphone Technology Sapping the Thrill of Travel?

Faisal Anwar Virginia’s most recent post:

Smartphone Travel

The Huffington Post asks whether smartphones are ruining the fun of travel.

That’s the question the Huffington Post asks in a recent article about the effects of smartphones on the travel experience.  For the most part, their list of 15 Ways the iPhone Has Sucked the Fun Out of Travel sounds like a curmudgeonly Andy Rooney piece at the end of 60 Minutes.  That said, they do make a few valid points.  Let’s take a look at a few and weigh the pros and cons of having a pocket travel concierge.

1. You look at the Parthenon, and instead of thinking “Whoa!” or “How historical and gorgeous!” you think, “Which filter am I gonna use?!”

This one might actually have some teeth.  It’s become all too common these days for people to view the amazing things they are given the chance to see through the screen of a smartphone.  There’s nothing wrong with taking pictures on a trip, but make sure you take the due time to actually view and appreciate the subject before worrying about how many likes it’s going to get.

5. Google Maps ensures you never get lost. It also ensures you never ask anyone for help. Which ensures you make way less new friends.

This one is a bet harder to defend.  Huff Post is lamenting the fact that independent travelers no longer need to rely on locals for directions since they can consult their smartphones.  It may be true that travelers are less inclined to ask for directions, but who says that’s the only reason to consult a local?  All the Yelp reviews in the world won’t give you the same authentic recommendations that a native will.  Also, regardless of asking for directions, travelers who seek new friends will find them and those who don’t…well they still might anyway.

14. You skim the Wikipedia page for a monument or church instead of taking a human-led tour with facts that come from a real, actual source.

This one sounds like something a high school English teacher would have said in 2005.  It can be fun to hear a story as told by a local tour guide, but to say it will be more accurate than Wikipedia in 2013 just isn’t true.

The truth of the matter is that the question of traveling with technology isn’t black and white.  The answer is to augment all of those great things with your smartphone, not replace them.  In other words, feel free to ask a native for directions but don’t feel guilty for checking their work against Google.

via Faisal Anwar Virginia


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