04 Apr 3 Digital Alternatives I Refuse to Use and Why You Should Too
Recently I’ve realized that I overpack. Not really a shocker, but what I was overpacking wasn’t clothes like you might expect. It was “work” objects like pens, notebooks, papers, folders, calendars. I am extremely organized at home. I am usually seen with all of these things around me, crossing things off, highlighting, writing. And while that works at home, where I don’t need to pack these things all the time, it’s not practical for travel. And I end up having a backpack that is hugely weighed down with- basically paper.
So I’ve made the conscious effort to scale back, go against everything I’ve been doing for years, and really use the technology at hand. I’ve found apps that are just as effective as a planner/calendar, I’ve found apps for quickly writing ideas, that are even better than writing ideas in notebooks or pieces of paper because they don’t get lose among the mounds of paper. I’ve found apps that actually remind you when something is due so I don’t freak out when I look at the calendar and realize I’ve been neglecting something.
I’ll be able to take my iPad, Macbook, and iPhone, (that I take anyway) and basically use a combination of the three to replace the notebooks, folders, endless papers, to both save room in my backpack, and save the planet! (I had to). I can write a post while sitting in a cafe and send it to my iPad to read over and edit while on a train or bus. I can schedule something on my phone that will remind me, on my Macbook, that I need to respond to an email.
And while I have found some really great ways to stay ahead of even my super organized self, there are still things that I will not go digital with, no matter how much weight they’ll save me in the process. These are 3 digital alternatives I refuse to use while traveling, and why I think you should too.
- Journals- I think even the most digitally-minded writers and bloggers still take journals with them. They’re small books that really don’t take up much room and are essential to any writer. While I’ll most likely write a lot more on my laptop while traveling, I’m still bringing a notebook or journal because laptops die at inconvenient times, I won’t bring my laptop into a restaurant with me (cafes are different), I usually don’t take out my laptop out on a bus (maybe a train), and I don’t want to take my laptop to the beach. The same goes for my iPad, and anyway, writing on an iPad is not the easiest. There are times that writing in a journal is a must and you don’t want to be caught without a way to take down your ideas. And usually, I write better in a journal because I’m unplugged from the world and it’s how I naturally write more freely. And there’s something really nostalgic about having a hard copy record of your travels to set on your bookshelf.
- Guidebook- This is a big one- both in size and “controversy.” So many travelers suggest to take electronic versions of your favorite guidebook. I mean, it makes sense. Why not just download something onto your iPad, that you’re already taking, instead of adding weight. Well, here’s why. I hate browsing through ebooks. For novels, they’re great, you always want to go from beginning to end, page by page and very rarely do you want to go back or search for a specific page. And usually it’s made easy to search for certain passages or chapters. But when it comes to guidebooks, I like flipping through, moving from page to page, I don’t like being slowed down by a search bar or ebooks that just aren’t user friendly. I also really like highlighting, bending pages, and circling. Real books don’t run out of battery and can be taken anywhere, especially place I might not want to take electronics. And I’m also glued to my laptop and iPad enough with writing, emailing, and researching that I don’t want to spend any more time on them than I have to. So I’ll sacrifice a little weight for that.
- Any reservations or confirmation- this might just be me, because I’m really organized, but I like having printed versions of confirmations or reservations. Mostly it’s just for convenience, but I’ve also had a few bad experiences when I didn’t do this. I thought I could rely on the email version I had but either my electronics died, couldn’t connect to internet, or suddenly decided to lose what I needed. Now, you can probably come up with a few still-digital solutions for this, like getting a phone with data in the country I am, save the documents somewhere really safe and easily maintainable, or just plan ahead before leaving wifi or when you’re phone will die. But here’s the thing, you can’t always know when the wifi won’t work or when your phone will decide the battery is dead after 3 hours. Besides convenience, I hate not knowing where things are, and the reservations will have addresses, either for bus stop locations, hotels, or where to meet your tour. I hate being in the situation of frantically running around to find information out in cyberspace that could be in a hard copy. Besides, the more your trip goes on, the less papers you’ll have, so by the time you go back home you will won’t have as much weight.
And while you might be really happy using this digital alternatives while you travel, I truly think that taking an “old fashioned approach,” while adding some weight, will add peace of mind (that cyberspace won’t eat your documents,” and give a sense of escaping and getting away from the technical world, so you can potentially have a better experience.
Do you feel the same way about the items on my list? Tell me why in the comments below. Maybe I’m just being stubborn!