You can easily find tips on how to enable the internet on your phone in various cities around the world, with step by step so you can buy a local chip and get out of the airport with everything working. That is not what you will find here. At least not today. In fact, I want to say the exact opposite: the freedom to disconnect in travel.
We get used to technology very fast, right? One day Eduardo and I were remembering that on our first big trip together, when we drove to Uruguay and Argentina, we didn’t even have GPS. We plotted the complete route in a 4 Wheel Guide program that came on CD. At the time it was a very modern business, even the tolls showed, see! We printed the route to take with us, but day-to-day navigation was done with an eye on the signs and the paper map. It seems like a prehistoric way to travel now that we have maps of the world on our palm via mobile.
Needless to say, on that trip, over ten years ago, we had no internet access at all times. Every couple of days we used the hotel computer to check email and send news to family and that was it. (At night there used to be a queue to use the computer, remember?) At most we would post a photo on Orkut, the height of virtual ostentation at the time. Without a smartphone and its dozens of apps, there was no possibility and need to share the trip in real time.
I confess that I miss a little of that time. Today there are no more moments of boredom, at home or on the road, that are not filled by constant visits to social networks. I’m one more victim of this addiction – all the while updating twitter, Instagram, email, YouTube, WhatsApp – but at least during the holidays I try to stay a little more disconnected.
In international travel I prefer not to buy local chip. I only use the wi-fi of my cell phone, so I surf the internet almost only at the hotel. In national travel 3G usually works, so I make sure if not to end the battery of the phone quickly. The fact that I don’t have an extra battery helps me maintain self-control.
These measures aren’t always enough, so I even like it when fate forces me to disconnect, which is getting harder every day. Even at Pousada Uacari , in the middle of the Amazon Forest, we had internet! Even in Cuba, wi-fi is becoming more and more accessible, but every now and then we find a farm with no cell phone signal and unstable internet.
It is not that I am an enlightened being who has already got rid of addiction, quite the opposite! I stay policing myself to disconnect at least during the holidays. I’m happy when I can. And the fact that we are out of our daily routine seems to take away the pressure of being all the time online and up to date.
I also know that the internet while traveling is not just for social networking. With it we find a lot of useful information, but I wonder if we do not become hostages of this practicality. Is it necessary to trace any path, check the evaluation of every restaurant, list the attractions by rating? I confess that I still enjoy opening the paper map, exploring the surroundings in the dark, asking for information on the street, flipping through the physical guide.
After becoming a mother, I have also tried to disconnect indoors. Pedro is about a year old and still has no access to screens in general except in video conversations with distant grandparents and uncles. We want to stay that way for a long time, but for that we also have to restrict our access to mobile. Practicing at home, it is getting easier and easier also to disconnect in the travels.