Traveling With Technology


I guess the price I had to pay for amazing weather for two whole weeks in Iceland was major thunderstorms on the eastern seaboard bookending the trip.

I’m sitting on the plane at Logan Airport, which was not on our itinerary. We were supposed to land at JFK but they’ve shut down the airport because of the storm. So we’re sitting on the plane in a little area off the runway for several hours.

I was delayed by a whole day on the way out, so this is small potatoes. And frankly, I’ll take it as a fair exchange.

Plus, it gives me some captive time to write that post about the wonders of traveling with technology.

As is abundantly clear from my posts, I brought my iPhone with me to Iceland. It’s been amazing to be able to share photos and thoughts, as a sort of public travel journal, as I go. Makes sending postcards sort of obsolete (though I did that too).

But it’s been more than just updating the blog and posting on instagram. I’ve booked flights and hostels all over the country, allowing me to play things by ear in a way that just wouldn’t have been possible during high season otherwise. I’ve paid off my credit card so I can keep using it to pay for the trip (no foreign transaction fee).

And I’ve been able to video-chat with Adrian most nights, allowing him to see where I am and me to feel connected to home.

It all seems pretty incredible. We take this all for granted in our daily lives, but traveling internationally has reminded me of what an amazingly connected world we live in.

When I was a high school exchange student in Nairobi in 1996, we had just been given our own email addresses at school. They were fun in a novelty sort of way, but nothing essential. And the school I went to in Kenya barely had computers, let alone an Internet connection. I took typing classes while I was there, and we learned on typewriters that were 20 years old, from books that were even older. Once a week I went into the city to a travel agent’s office. Edwin Rodrigues was his name, I still remember. And he would hand me a fax from my stepfather. I held onto one of those notes, on that shiny thin paper, keeping it in my wallet for years until the ink wore off completely and I was just carrying around a blank sheet.

When I lived in Santiago, Chile, for a semester in college, and then when I was traveling afterwards in other countries, I would seek out Internet cafes a couple of times a week, and try to get as many emails read and written as I could in whatever amount of time I had money for.

When I wrote part of the first Let’s Go Chile guide in 2002, I was still writing what we called “dead tree copy.” in other words, handwriting all my entries and mailing the pages back to Cambridge in big batches. Heck, even when I wrote for them in Australia the next year and had a computer, I’m pretty sure I still mailed back CDs.

So this is the first time I’ve really experienced the change all this can bring to traveling.

I’m not sure it’s an unmitigated good. One of the purposes of travel is to go away and if you’re tethered too closely to home, you risk missing these new places entirely. And I suppose the fact that I spent late evenings updating this blog and chatting with Adrian may have meant I didn’t go have a beer and perhaps meet someone interesting to talk to.

But it also allowed me so much more freedom to go where the winds took me. And to share what I was experiencing while it was still fresh.

So now, as I sit on the Tarmac in Boston, typing away with one finger, I’m thinking about how amazing the world is and how far we’ve come in communication. And how grateful and lucky I am to be able to experience both.

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5 Responses to Traveling With Technology

  1. Greg says:

    And Boston is much closer to Burlington, too, yet all you can do is stare out that window. Great weather earlier in the week here, but then again we needed the rain. Travel safe. On vaca last year in a certain remote area of the US, I still had to drive to town to raise antenna in order find out what was going on back at the office. -Just like people once upon a time had to do to make a phone call or send a telegram. Did you have coverage all over Iceland, I’m wondering? If so, it sure beats Vermont!

  2. Karl says:

    My big trip was right after college, 1968 (!) hitching around Europe & No. Africa with friend Jon. Couldn’t phone home, prohibitively expensive. We could write home and did. The only way folks communicated with us was to write in care of “Poste Restante” (general delivery) at the post office at our next stop. Hit or miss. I agree with your mixed blessing statement. We were AWAY, man! Out there, on our own and that was our goal. But you weren’t on a youthful wanderjahr, so I think it’s good to be able to stay in touch with home. And I have loved your blog posts. Thanks, d

  3. Beth says:

    Hi, Jane!
    Do you remember me (Beth Armstrong)? Fred and I were visiting Bobbie and Doug earlier in August, and I mentioned the school trip to Iceland that I am going to be designing and leading. So of course, she told me that Lupe was there–and blogging! I loved reading about your trip (and hearing your voice again!), and I would love to talk or email with you about Iceland some time. I’ll be scouting out our trip next June with a fellow teacher/chaperone. We’ll be leading students on the trip for the first time in 2014. The trip will recur every 3 years or so. Yes, you guessed it–a sneaky way for me to travel–again and again–to a place I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time.

    • Hi Beth! Yes, of course I remember you! I’m so envious of your plans to go to Iceland–frequently! I had a pretty amazing time and I would love to chat with you about it anytime. Bobbie has my email address and should have my cell phone number if those are better ways to chat! I’d love to hear what kind of curriculum you’re planning!

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