DOWN WITH PHONES!
Look up from this story right now and study the people around you. How many have their eyes glued to their phones? On the train; phones. Walking down the street; phones. Waiting in line for coffee; phones. Is it any wonder that this zombie-like obsession spills over into our travels, too?
Aussies spend on average two hours a day on social media and it’s making travellers more self-obsessed than ever before. Unsurprisingly, if you’ve travelled anywhere this year, Expedia’s 2018 social media and travel report, #LikeToTravel, suggests Aussies are fixated on achieving ’gram glory rather than actually enjoying their surroundings when travelling.
It’s not enough that we’re flat-chat busy before even reaching the airport to depart – we’re glorifying “busyness” and vanity while we’re supposed to be chilling out. Look around the resort pool, the monument, the mountaintop – you can bet there’ll be Aussies nearby spending up to one hour each day just documenting their trip.
They’re thinking about the perfect shot, worrying if their outfit is right, looking at where the light is best, and spending an average of 10 minutes to take one photo. (Alarmingly, 5 per cent admit they spend 30 minutes or more taking the perfect pic, with some taking two hours or more!)
I’m not begrudging anyone taking a snap of themselves in the destinations they’ve dreamed of and saved for and have serious goosebumps of joy when they arrive, but almost half of all Aussie travellers really just want to make their friends jealous.
The report shows 43 per cent of travellers admit they spend time and effort getting the right shot and pose so they can cause serious FOMO for friends back home.
And most don’t believe this act of social proof and validation detracts from their holiday – in fact, 30 per cent say it’s what makes it – even when they’re just replicating shots they’ve already seen!
Even sadder? More than 250 people around the world have died taking selfies since 2011, according to a study by the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care in India. Men and women, mostly under 30, all tempting fate – and losing – for the pursuit of more Instagram likes.
India led the way with more than 50 per cent of deaths followed by Russia, United States, and Pakistan – with three-quarters of victims being male. Drowning, falling from extreme heights, being hit by traffic and mauled by wild animals were some of the most common causes.
In June, a Perth couple fell 30m to their deaths taking a selfie in Ericeira, Portugal.
Instead of focusing outward and actually experiencing destinations, they’ve become elaborate backdrops – places to be seen. The question is, if you didn’t see it on Instagram and if you didn’t have your phone in your pocket, would you actually like it as much?
Make your next trip less homogenised with these three simple phone hacks.
LOCK YOUR PHONE AWAY
Avoid the temptation to grab the Wi-Fi code at every stop in your day and relish wandering and talking to locals, instead. In Porto, Portugal, I picked up a fantastic folded map designed by local artists in a coffee shop, and it got me around for a week.
STAY ON AIRPLANE MODE
Unless you’re vigilant about turning all notifications off, it’s far too easy to fall down a social media rabbit hole with every buzz or ping. Leave your phone on airplane mode to keep those out-of-office vibes.
USE A CAMERA INSTEAD
I know, I know, your iPhone’s camera is AMAZING. But shoot with a camera and embrace the fact there’s no share function and no need to feel anxious about how many likes you’ve received since you posted five minutes ago. That’s a big tick for mental wellness as well as embracing the wonder of travel.
Picture this: Try navigating a new city without Wi-Fi, with an old-fashioned paper map.