Travelling Without Connections: Part 1

My victory dance when I activated my American SIM.
Time seems to drag ever so slowly when one has nothing to do. I’ve discovered that this also goes for when one lacks a connection to the Internet. During the planning stages of this project, I was sure that I had spent over a week in America without a SIM card in my phone – and thus without a guaranteed connection to the Internet.

I unearthed my folder of American adventures – a plastic sleeve of all the documents I’ve accrued from my exchange. I happened to have kept the receipt from AT&T from when I bought my SIM. It’s dated as the 19th of August. I arrived in America on the 15th of August. Though I could have sworn I had suffered longer under the stress of not being connected, it was only for four short days. How could I have been so wrong? Was it that my mum’s constant nagging about getting a SIM card seemed to have gone on for a longer period of time? Did the lack of available WiFi so distinctly affect me that my memories are distorted?

My generation is used to having access to the Internet 24/7. In terms of travel, almost a third of Gen Y uses only the Internet to plan their holidays and adventures. We’re more flexible in our plans and travels, as well (Kim et al. 2015). But as a result, we experience anxiety when we are without an Internet connection. I felt this stress very soon after landing at LAX: the LAX airport WiFi wouldn’t let me FaceTime my parents, and texts weren’t guaranteed to go through without me re-sending them several times. I broke out in a cold sweat when I realised I couldn’t immediately reach my parents to let them know that my plane had landed. My British friend Amelia, who I met on exchange at UNC, also experienced this – twice at two different airports – and describes the scary feeling she got when realising she couldn’t easily contact anyone.

And so for the next few blog posts, I will strive to tell more of the highs and lows connecting to how we as Gen Y deal when we lack connections during travel. Telling it through this blog is an obvious choice for me – my entire travel experience is laid out here, neatly categorised, easily available for further reading and references. Along with this reasoning, the best way to tell this sort of story is through the use of a blog. Blogging has grown popular and is easily accessible; book publishers have even started experimenting with digital storytelling with great success. Meg Cabot’s The Boy Next Door, published in 2002, is written in the format of emails. The use of a digital platform such as a blog enables its creator to look back at their work, giving them a definitive record which can’t be lost (Kirk & Pitches 2013).

Kim, H, Xiang, Z & Fesenmaier, D 2015, ‘Use of the Internet for Trip Planning: a Generational Analysis’, Journal of Travel & Tourism, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 276-289.

Kirk, C, & Pitches, J 2013, ‘Digital reflection: using digital technologies to enhance and embed creative processes’, Technology, Pedagogy & Education, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 213-230.

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