Can you switch off tech on holiday?
Going on holiday couldn’t be easier but getting away from life couldn’t be harder.
That’s my conclusion after returning from a two-week holiday in Canada where the temperatures dropped to minus 15c.
The reason for both is tech and here’s why. I’ve joined the BusinessCloud team so I’m thinking about technology more.
The tech that makes it easier to book flights, hotels etc makes it harder to ignore, even when you’re standing in front of a massive snow drift in the middle of Banff National Park in Alberta.
Think about it for a second. Airports are my own personal nightmare and I’m pretty sure that if hell is a real place, it’s the security line at Gatwick Airport.
Gatwick Airport, or the seventh circle of Hell?
This is where technology is a great and beautiful thing.
Online check-in, e-boarding passes that ping into your lock screen when you arrive at the airport, e-passports that demolish queue time in passport control (when they decide to work at least), tablets in lounge restaurants for lonely hearts travellers – they’re all doing wondrous things for our airport experience.
All of this is only the beginning; there’s talk of integrating biometrics into the check-in process to the point where you won’t have to deal with human staff member at all, and things like AR (Augmented Reality) could eventually offer up information on everything from how quickly you can get through different airport check-points to what rating its restaurants have.
Then there’s the flight itself. Traditionally on a long-haul flight each seat would have a TV embedded into the headrest but this time we were able to access movies via our airline’s app, or rent a tablet pre-loaded with movies; although having to pay extra for the latter did sting considerably.
There were nifty USB charging points tucked away under our seats so that, as long as you were stocked up on playlists and podcasts, you were in no danger of being left alone with your thoughts at 40,000 feet.
What this boils down to though is that ‘getting away’ doesn’t mean getting away from tech, even when you might want to.
Studies are showing that more of us are addicted to our smartphones than ever.
Only last week Steven Bartlett, CEO of the Social Chain, told BusinessCloud editor Chris Maguire that smartphones are as addictive as drugs.
With this in mind, going away seemed like the perfect time to perform my own mini digital detox – mostly because I’m far too tight to pay my mobile provider’s extortionate data roaming fees.
I planned to limit my internet usage to Wi-Fi in the Airbnb apartment we rented (another example of how the holiday sharing economy is now competing with the hotel heavyweights of old) but with hotspots a-plenty and the pervasiveness of the ‘always-on’ culture, it still felt like I was rarely away from my phone, despite trying to get some quality family time.
There’s no denying that tech makes travelling a much smoother ride but it also makes it harder to feel like we actually get away and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.