PÓL Ó CONGHAILE

THE TRAVEL EX­PERT

Irish Independent - Weekend Magazine - - Travel -

Travel writ­ing is plagued by clichés. The ‘hid­den gem’; the ‘city of con­trasts’; the ‘bustling mar­ket’. Used so of­ten, terms like these suck the life out of places, bor­ing read­ers rather than in­spir­ing them. How to avoid these traps? I en­cour­age writ­ers to speak to the senses. Not just to look at a scene, but to ask: ‘What am I see­ing? What can I hear, taste, feel and smell?’ In­stead of that lazy ‘bustling mar­ket’ line, zero in on the grumpy man sell­ing green sprigs of mint, or the slap-thunk sounds of fish be­ing gut­ted and chopped. Reach past that ‘ charm­ing’ coun­try house or ‘ azure’ ocean for per­sonal de­scrip­tions that put us right there with you — ‘ the room feels like a hug’, or ‘I taste salt on my lips’. Spark a hu­man con­nec­tion. Make us care.

This no­tion of in­hab­it­ing a momnt came to mind when I read that Bali’s Ayana Re­sort and Spa has banned the use of phones around one of its pools. Yes, it has the whiff of a PR gim­mick (here I am, writ­ing about it). But it also speaks to very un-gim­micky con­cerns: our anx­i­ety about 24/7 con­nec­tiv­ity, our con­stant state of dis­tract­ed­ness, our pen­chant for trav­el­ling based on ‘In­sta­gram­a­bil­ity’, rather than what’s go­ing on in­side and out­side the frame.

Clearly, our de­vices have enor­mous ben­e­fits, and tech­nol­ogy isn’t go­ing back in the bot­tle. But it’s healthy to ques­tion how we use it. When I wake up, take a break, sit down or see some­thing new or un­usual, my first re­ac­tion is of­ten the same — I reach for my phone.

I’ve been think­ing a lot about this lately. So much of my screen­time feels flit­tery and dis­tracted, snacky and bitty rather than fo­cused and pur­pose­ful. But when I heard about the Bali phone ban, it gave me an idea. Why not take that old travel writ­ing trick, and ap­ply it to life?

So I ate a lunch with­out scrolling through news feeds. I took a walk with­out lis­ten­ing to a pod­cast. I watched what was go­ing on around me; I let my thoughts have a play. In a café with my eight-year-old son, we played a game - closing our eyes and list­ing things we no­ticed, from chats around us to the smell of toasties. For­get FOMO. This was a gig­gle-in­duc­ing hit of JOMO (Joy of Miss­ing Out).

We don’t need phone bans. We just need, ev­ery now and then, to slow down. To ac­tively look and lis­ten. To no­tice the small stuff hid­ing in plain sight, to travel in the mo­ments around us. We don’t re­quire tech­niques, or to worry about be­ing mind­ful or day­dream­ing. There’s no need to take notes (un­less you’re writ­ing for Week­end, of course). Just re-con­nect with the real world, us­ing a fil­ter In­sta­gram could never in­vent: your­self.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.