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On your next trip, leave Trip Adviser and Google at home.

I am such a fuddy-duddy. When it comes to cell phone technology, I am actually worse than my grandma (she has an iPhone idk, while I'm still punching buttons on a broken Nokia). Not only am I out-of-date, but I am "old-fashioned" in my attachment to these gizmos. They've run their course. I recently bought a regular watch and pulled out my point-and-shoot camera. Just put your smart phone away! You are in another country, for Pete's sake.

It has been proven that people who are constantly on their phones while alone or in a group, become social robots. They don't learn how to interact (if they haven't reached a certain age) or their ability to empathize is deadened. They can't be alone, by themselves, and sometimes they can't even function without it. (How did we ever drive without GPS?)

This is a phenomenon I've seen and experienced here at Casa HOY, not just read about. Connection with trip participants has declined drastically in just a few short years; instead of reflection and endless games of Mafia, students sit on their bunks updating their Facebook status. I've become party pooper that now has to say, "please leave your cell phone at home." Remember Tamagotchi? That's how people are with their phones now, except that I promise you, your phone won't die if you don't check your messages every 5 minutes.

Now, all this is not to say that we're not fashion forward here in Mexico. Everyone has smart phones, too, and we do know what Instagram is even if we pronounce it "Imstagram." But if you come to travel with Casa HOY, or even just on your own, seriously, seriously think about disconnecting and maybe not planning so much. Trust me, you'll enjoy it.

A few reasons why you should disconnect if you're traveling in Mexico:

First of all, safety. If you're texting and walking you will mostly likely step in dog poop and trip on the broken sidewalk; besides, spicy salsa, juicy limes and taco grease do NOT help you swipe very well. You are also more likely to be a target for pick-pocketers and people asking for money; and since I've already warned you in this blog post, you'll get no sympathy from me.

Second of all, interaction. One of my favorite words in Spanish besides pachanga, chapoteadero and chela is convivio, from convivir (notice a theme here, Spanish speakers?). Convivir means to spend quality time with someone. To hang out with people you WANT to be with. How are you going to practice your Spanish, learn some salsa moves, hike the Tepozteco mountain/hill, paint a school or play hand-clap games with the kids at your volunteer placement if you have your smart phone out? Save your exhausting "always available elsewhere" life for when you're back home. You're on vacation!

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Lastly, spontaneity and adventure. Wait, you YELPED it? You GOOGLED it? You can't find a website so you're not going to eat there? I'm sorry, maybe I've been out of the US too long, but isn't the whole point of life discovery and adventure (and hard work and making money blah blah blah)?? One of my favorite memories with Casa HOY will always be when I first started working for them and a volunteer stuck his head in someone's garage door where they were having a birthday party. The hostess invited all 5 of us in, for food, drinks and cake- total strangers, but it was so much fun. Can you YELP that? Does your experience get 5 stars and 183 likes?

Ok, my rant is over. I know that technology has its benefits, but none of them outweigh face-to-face (no phone in sight) actual conversations and life experiences. You can blog about your trip, write reviews and post pictures AFTER your trip is over, or at least save it for a rainy day. Travel will change you, but only if you are open to it.

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P.S.- the bit about "always available elsewhere" and losing the ability to empathize comes from an excellent NY Times op ed piece that I've been thinking a lot of about lately. I don't know how to neatly link to it in my blog, so here is the url: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/27/opinion/sunday/stop-googling-lets-talk.html?ribbon-ad-idx=3&src=me&module=Ribbon&version=context&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Most%20Emailed&pgtype=article&_r=0

Posted by UnMejorHOY 21:01 Archived in Mexico Tagged travel language alone tacos alternative_travel language_study mustaches disconnect no_phones turn_it_off read_a_book

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