Geek Holiday

Posted on 28/06/2012

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cameras, camcorders and photography

(Courtesy)

“Abroad” means zip all these days. Half the people I work with are in a different city or a different country, and they get to travel frequently. Why would being in a different country mean you can’t do any work?

If you think it’s getting harder to break away from your job (and it is), I can already tell who you’re going to blame. Technology, right? Mobile phones, email, laptops and the Internet. According to you, they’re the bad guys. Well you’re wrong. It’s your fault.

I know travelling with electronics comes with a bit of a burden. We’ve all been there. I’ve struggled through airport security, tangled up with headphone wires and trying to juggle a passport, iPod and ebook. I’ve argued with family over who should be first to borrow the plug adaptor before their phone dies. I’ve even been so distracted by what’s happening on-screen that I’ve ignored the landscape I came to see.

But in all these cases, technology is not the problem. We’re just using it wrong.

Internet
You’ve gone abroad for the weather/sights/people. Why spend a week messaging/ emailing people who are in the wrong location (at home)? You’d be better off chatting with locals or at least someone who knows the area.
Travel tip: trip advisor, city guide websites and online forums
Holiday hell: spending your time on Facebook – out of bounds for any holiday

Twitter
Let’s face it: birds migrate, and take their chatter with them (in fact, they’re probably even more chatty after the journey). So I don’t think it’s fair to totally outlaw sharing your adventures in 140 characters. But just this once I’d suggest using Twitter to broadcast and not listening to the rest of the noise. It’ll suck you back into your daily life, kinda undermining why you went on holiday in the first place.
Travel tip: tweeting poorly translated signage
Holiday hell: reading about what’s trending back home

Foursquare
If you’ve got a competitive edge, you won’t be able to resist checking in while on holiday (“checking-in” to locations while abroad gets you extra points and can unlock new badges within Foursquare). But at what price? Is using your expensive data and GPS really worth it? Do you want to be fretting about signal everywhere you go? Fundamentally, is this exactly what you’d be doing at home? If it is, you might want to consider a trial separation from your phone (your obsession sounds a unhealthy…)
Travel tips: Foursquare’s” explore” search tool for restaurants, activities and bars
Holiday hell: checking-in anywhere but your hotel

Maps and money
Nobody likes looking like a tourist, even if you are one. If you’re struggling with directions or currency then maybe your phone can come to the rescue. Web and GPS enabled apps mean you’re no longer risk of getting the map the wrong way round, or messing up the exchange rate.
Travel tip: currency or xe app
Holiday hell: broadcasting your naivety by struggling with a paper map

Language aids
Too many people think they don’t need to learn a language, and technology isn’t helping. At one point you had to be reasonably proficient to navigate a phrase book; now you don’t even need to.

So I’ll try another tact. If you’re in a stranger’s house it’s generally pretty decent to live a the same way they do. And to speak to them. So even if you do let technology do the hard work, at least try to speak their language. That’s all i ask.
Travel tip: translate app (vid)
Holiday hell: not learning how to say “hello” because you no longer have to.

Emails
What happens at work stays at work. Don’t bring it with you. You’re not going to a) do anything productive
b) enjoy finding out about the chaos you’ve left behind (and have to go back to…)
c) get the kind of connectivity you’d expect at home
My only travel tip: turn off your Blackberry and bury it at home.

pack like a geek

First step to holidaying like a geek is packing like one. (Courtesy)

I’m more than happy to travel on a budget but can’t imagine a holiday without batteries. We’re used to moving fast and keeping updated and it’s this kind of repetitive behaviour that keeps us mentally chained to our desk when we go away. Tame your habits, turn off the fire-hose of information and technology can still be your perfect travel companion.

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