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.
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.