How technology and Social Media have changed travelling in 2015. And why we need to go offline for our holidays.
I’m not very good with car journeys. I’d be the first one to ask if we are there soon and I’d be the first to need to go to the toilet… But with the smartphone app Waze this has all changed.
I sat my mood to ‘Speedy’, beeped to fellow Wazers we passed along the way, kept my husband up to date on roadworks, animals in the road, police and speed cameras. I could also keep him up to date on how many miles to the next fuel station – as well as the fuel price on that station. I also enjoyed reporting in myself; update on fuel prices, ‘vehicle stopped on shoulder’, ‘roadwork’ and ‘moderate’ to ‘stand still traffic’, for which I earned points for each and every time. Not that I think these points can be used for anything else than to have a high rank within the Waze community. But really, Waze is almost like playing a game. And you can see your little car driving along the road, with fellow Wazers. You can also create Waze teams and hook up with friends.
Wazing our way through France.
We drove more than 2200 miles on this holiday which left me with enough time to explore this app, which I downloaded on my iPhone before leaving London. But arguably the best thing with this app is that it proved to be even more accurate than the sat nav in the car, guiding us away from traffic and giving as accurate estimate as possible on time of arrival.
Another thing we did before leaving London was finding accommodation in France. As Italy is many miles away we decided to make the journey a bit more pleasant, considering travelling with two children in the back seat. Airbnb offers ‘home from home’ where ever you go. You simply search on the map where, you ad how many people and how many nights you want to stay. Then available accommodations comes up as a listing in your chosen area. And your booking is just a click away.
We found the most beautiful home in Laon with what looked to be the most welcoming and charming owner, according to the many reviews he had received. And for a fraction of the cost of staying in a hotel! A request was sent through my iPhone app, and less than 30 minutes later I had a kind reply from a family in France welcoming us to stay in their home.
There were delays with Eurotunnel but that was not a problem as I could keep the French family updated on our expected arrival through the app. We arrived late afternoon and was greeted as family friends. After a good nights sleep and the best breakfast, we said goodbye to our new friends in France.
Breakfast in Laon, with our accommodation booked through Airbnb.com
After Wazing our way through France we reached Italy and our final destination; a beach hotel by the Mediterranean Ocean. We had booked our accommodation only a couple of months earlier, through Tripadvisor. We tend to use TripAdvisor for most things when travelling; from accommodation and restaurants to things to do and places to see. We are reading through other peoples experiences and using that information to decide.
The hotel was exactly as described by the Tripadvisor community, and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Most nights we dined our way through Tripadvisors recommendations, for best fish, best pasta and so on.
Best Ligurian cuisine was tried, tested and approved.
Pizzeria La Genovese, in the mountains overlooking Finale Ligure. Recommended by Tripadvisor.
But I must admit. Technology aside and more importantly; what I also did when on holiday was to go offline (as you may have noticed on the blog!). I logged off, secured my devices in a locked suitcase and enjoyed the family holiday – unplugged. I enjoyed waking up without checking all my Social Media channels, but instead slowly sipping coffee on the hotel terrace, before heading down to the beach. Instead of writing blog posts or working on a piece I watched the girls play in turquoise water, we went for swims, we hired a boat, we had fresh coconut on the beach, my youngest learned to snorkle, we probably had to much ice cream, we watched italian dubbed tv together during siesta, we played pool table, we laughed and we just enjoyed our precious time together.
Family tournament by the pool table in the evening is serious business…
Now, finally back home my inbox is testing its limits, there’s two blogs and work to catch up on. As well as honouring the community from which we have received so much guidance – by writing our own reviews on TripAdvisor and Airbnb.
Technology is great for planning, booking and getting there. But once arrived… This is how you go offline!
– Manage expectations. Let people know that you’ll be unavailable for a period of time and when you’ll be responding to emails, phone calls or texts. Set an autoresponder clarifying when you’ll be out and when they can expect to receive a response to their inquiries.
– Remove distractions. Lock away your devices. Alternatively, set a time each day to check through what you consider to be critical. Don’t exceed the time you’ve allowed yourself. Not being available and responsive is not only good for charging your own batteries it also helps you decide on what’s really is important.
Happy Unplugged Holiday!