The Tech / Travel Relationship


JoAnna is a globe-trotting, idea-inventing, culture-collecting creativity connoisseur with a global family of foreign exchange students and rescue pets. You can also find JoAnna at

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26 Responses

  1. Abbie says:

    I don’t use my cell phone when I’m abroad either, and I try to keep myself busy so that I only check my email at night (if at all). It’s nice to get away from technology for awhile 🙂

  2. One thing I did when I started traveling fairly full-time in late 2008 was to give up my cell phone. I not only don’t have a smart phone, I just don’t have any phone at all. Now, I love living that way. Now that is not to say that I don’t spend way, way too much time on the internet, home and abroad. I do. And need to find a way to lessen that soon. Thanks — good post.

    • JoAnna says:

      No phone at all? Wow! That’s brave, Michael! Quite honestly, though, with all the other ways to stay in touch with people while traveling or not, I can definitely see how it’s possible.

      Thanks for the comment!

  3. I think it depends on the type of job you have. If you’re a travel blogger with an emphasis on social media, then having the phone is going to help you do your job (if your trip is actually for work). Otherwise, I say ditch it all and enjoy the experience.

  4. Candice says:

    It’s definitely important to take those trips which actually ARE vacations, and now just means of cranking out a story or doing the latest social media updates. I guess some of the lines get blurred when you’re in the industry, but damn, unplugging is so essential.

    • JoAnna says:

      I try to make a very distinct point of separating my vacations from my work travel. If I didn’t, I’d be at work all the time, wherever I was. I agree, unplugging at least occasionally is essential.

  5. I’m pretty much on board with the author. I check in online in the morning or at night but I leave it behind during the day while traveling. I don’t have an iphone yet, but I imagine the negatives of having one would outweigh the positives (at least when it comes to traveling.)

  6. Nancie says:

    My Korean cellphone will not work anywhere but Korea, so that leaves that eliminates that phone. It’s also not a smartphone. I have a cheapie that I purchased in Thailand last year. I can change the SIM card from country to country, and it is strictly for emergencies. Again, it is not a smartphone. It has come in handy on several times. When I fell in Chiang Mai last year, and split my head open, comes to mind.

    I have a travel computer, so I am online. I tweet very little when I’m traveling. Mostly I’m trying to keep the blog going and post photos. I’m too busy doing things to stay connected more than a few hours late in the evening or very early in the morning.

  7. Lola says:

    This is precisely the reason why I refuse to get a Smartphone/iPhone. Yes, I know the benefits but I’m not disciplined enough to not constantly check it so I don’t have one.

    And boy, has that freed up a lot of time and sharpened those observational skills travel writers need on the road. Right now, I’m still working towards 1 internet free day (possibly Sundays) each week.

    • JoAnna says:

      You bring up a good point regarding sharpening and appreciating observational skills by avoiding technology. I’m curious to hear how you, as a photographer, ensure that you’re living in the moment instead of just viewing it from behind a camera – yet another piece of technology.

    • Lola says:

      Good question!

      It’s something I consciously do. Many professional photographers say they take up to 1,000 photos per day. While traveling, I think I average roughly 100-150 per day, each snap a consciously composed one, not just randomly firing away.

      Sometimes looking through a camera also helps you isolate scenes and observe situations.

      A different kind of beast, photographing is. 🙂

      • JoAnna says:

        Great points, Lola. I’m really surprised to hear that you only take 100-150 photos a day when you travel. For some reason, I assumed photographers were constantly taking pictures.

        Thanks for the insight!

    • Akila says:

      Lola, This is such an interesting comment because we often wonder whether we spend too much time behind our lens (and we’re obviously not professionals). We tend to average around 300 to 500 photos per day and, at times, it’s exhausting to drag around the camera, take pictures, then go through and cull and edit. For a couple of weeks in South Africa, we didn’t take any pictures at all and it was almost a little freeing. Of course, when we got home, we wished we had taken more of those pictures but I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.

  8. For me, I’ve chosen a lifestyle where travel and vacation are two entirely different things. I travel full time, and to do so – I work from amazing places. I look at is as bringing my mobile office with me, and having a new place to explore when I’m not working.

    As a result, I feel little need for a break or vacation. I never really have. Instead, I’ve found my right balance. Technology is what enables me to travel full time and work from wherever I’m at (software developer).

    That said, I am taking a 30-day Facebook fast right now.. and it feels great!

  9. Tim L. says:

    Brooke, even if you’re a blogger, keeping the social media noise going is probably not nearly as important as you think. Try an experiment sometime where you don’t go on Facebook or Twitter for a week and I bet your traffic will decline by less than 5%. If you have a mature blog, tweets shouldn’t have much impact in the grand scheme. Most people can’t stop tweeting and posting status updates because they’re addicted, not because it affects their livelihood.

    It’s a sad state of affairs when you go into a guesthouse or hosted at night halfway around the world and everyone is tending the umbilical cord to home instead of communicating face to face with the people around them.

  10. Vacation? Hmmm….I vaguely remember that concept….sigh…like most people these days, it seems like most of my travel is work related so I can’t leave the technology at home, but like you I enjoy using some of the downtime to catch up on all those magazines I love but don’t have time to read… piles get quite high between trips! But I really do believe in the idea of limiting one’s “availability” while on vacation – there’s very little that can’t be handled by someone else while you’re gone, and if there is, well then maybe it’s time to hire some new people!

  11. Great piece JoAnna. I have an iPhone and have actually thought about ditching it. The main thing I use it now for now is taking photos and I’ve recently gotten a DSLR. I just don’t want to be tied to it. I work a lot on the road, but I’ve realized while spending time in Costa Rica, that it’s really not necessary to always be connected 24/7.

  12. Tim L. says:

    Most people don’t need to be connected nearly as much as they think they do. Brooke—do an experiment sometime where you don’t tweet or do FB updates for a week when you’re on the move. I bet the difference in your traffic stats will be minuscule. Unless your blog is very new, you’re doing something wrong if Twitter is a major traffic source.

    Most people just can’t stand letting go of the umbilical cord to everyone back home, but then why travel if you can’t disconnect from all that noise?

    Like Spencer, I’ve found that when I go off the grid in a place where I have to, I don’t really miss much that matters. I future post a few things before, then soak in everything instead of broadcasting what I’m doing. I’m 100% positive that makes me a better writer–and traveler.

    • JoAnna says:

      Prior to traveling, I schedule all of my tweets and then back away from the social media. It can work for me while I enjoy my trip. Sure, I’ve got some catching up to do when I come back online, but I think unplugging is not only a healthy practice for my sanity but, like you, it probably makes me a better writer as well.

  13. Akila says:

    Great article, Joanna! Lately, we’ve been playing poker with some friends and one thing that irritates the heck out of me is that all of us will be sitting at the table playing and these people can’t put down their phones – usually they’re playing online games, too! Technology has become obsessive.

    When we started traveling, we gave up our iPhone and just have a very basic and cheap cell phone to make calls. I LOVE not having a fancy phone and, when we’re traveling, we often don’t have a phone at all. I have to say that I would hate traveling without my laptop but, in the last year, we have become much better at enjoying the experience without the gadgets in our face. In fact, we’re considering taking a vacation in June and not bringing our camera equipment —- now, that would be a first.

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