After all, I'm as reliant on my rigid rectangle as the next guy: When I fell overboard on a B.C. whale-watching trip last fall -- the details of which must remain shrouded in secrecy -- the only thought that entered my brain as I plunged into the three-degree Pacific waters was, "My phone! Somebody save my phone!"
I get it: We can't live without our mobile devices even while we're on vacation. This point was driven home, for the umpteenth time, by a recent Expedia Canada survey. Worldwide, it found that 94 per cent of respondents carry at least one mobile device when they take personal vacations, with the results being "consistent for Canadians," the company says.
What I will say, however, is that the overwhelming popularity of mobile devices has changed the travel experience, and I'm not sure whether it's for the better. On one hand, our experiences can be recorded and shared using countless free apps. On the other, travellers must take care that these useful, comforting and immersive tools doesn't overshadow their actual surroundings (and max-out their credit cards due to roaming fees). It's true that guidebook-style apps make everyone look less touristy -- as many locals will also have their noses buried in their smartphones -- but it would be a shame to trade even a fraction of an actual experience for the distractions of a virtual one.
Are GPS apps better than paper maps? I still can't fold the latter properly, and now I'll never learn, what with GPS being so incredibly useful. That said, getting lost can be half, or at least 25 per cent, of the fun, right?
Then there are selfies. I have snapped a picture of myself many, many times, but I still have yet to invest in a selfie extension pole (pictured. That's technically a "selvsie," but that's another story...). And I must admit to being mildly annoyed by the selfie-takers who swarmed across the Champ de Mars near the base of the Eiffel Tower this past August. Did I join them? It was like a fever, dammit!
So what do you think? Have mobile devices enhanced the travel experience, or has something been lost? Comments please!