I read where a travel magazine sent travelers out armed with either a trusty, old-school guide book or wired up with modern electronic communications, and asked them to accomplish a set of typical tourism tasks. Turned out, the guidebook wielding traveler more often than not completed their tasks more quickly than their wired counterpart.
One reason postulated for the success of the guidebook toting traveler’s success was that they relied more on the local people for help. At Farther Foundation we are fond of programs that give our sponsored students the opportunity to engage the local people and culture. This is often accomplished via home-stays with local families, classes with local instructors and service projects in local communities.
I’m not one to disparage technology. My daughter is traveling on her own this summer and we will be able to communicate with her in so many ways we never could before, including face-to-face via webcams. The rest of the family is preparing to travel to Europe and the internet has allowed us to plan so much of our trip with the confidence that we will get what we expect. But, it’s often the unexpected that provides the most interesting experiences and durable memories.
We’ve been asked to do a favor in Copenhagen, Denmark. A colleague of mine lived there for a period of time and would like to be remembered to a friend whom he is no longer able to reach via phone or internet, so we have the rather old-fashioned errand of delivering a letter. Perhaps we’ll stop by and nobody will be home, but maybe we will get to meet a resident of Copenhagen and have one of those unexpected experiences. If so, it will be because we unplugged from technology for a while and said hello.
Farther Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing scholarships to low-income students to inspire them to reach their highest aspirations through educational travel experiences. www.fartherfoundation.org.