To connect, or not to connect? That is the question.
In my ideal world, the word ‘connect’ would simply pertain to interactions between people, in real life. Especially because as a freelancer and a writer, I spend a lot of time on my own. I’ve become quite used to keeping my own company, to being completely independent, and as such, doing things my own way.
Yet I’m undoubtedly an extrovert. I get my energy from being around others. I welcome the chance to collaborate as often as possible, and that often means traveling with others. Traveling (or even sometimes eating dinner) with others lately has illuminated just how much the phrase “seeking connection” has shifted, in as little as the past few years.
More and more the word ‘connect’ means to the Internet — to our Twitter accounts, our Snapchat memories, our Facebook overshares, the ol’ email ball and chain. I’ve often said I have a love/hate relationship with social media. Lately I’ve been questioning the amount of time we spend documenting our lives versus simply enjoying them.
I know, I know…it’s essentially my job to document and share my life and travels! How can I do so if I insist on being disconnected (i.e. not missing out on what is right in front of me because I’m staring at a screen?) especially when traveling? Sometimes I worry we’ve become a society that focuses on too much documentation, and not enough on presence. When this is the case (personally,) I stop enjoying what I’m doing and where I am (and then what is the point?)
Still, the realities of work and life demand that we stay connected the majority of the time, in most of the world. If clients cannot reach us, there is no work. If friends and family cannot reach us, we have no life outside of said work. So while I am beginning to pay more attention to when and why I am connected, I most certainly must remain plugged in.
Ever since someone told me I hunt for wifi on the road “like a pig after truffles,” I’ve realized that the best way for me to enjoy the place I’m in, especially when I must work while I’m on the road, is to increase my connectivity…and then relax about it. Strangely enough, having the ability to be connected makes it so that I don’t want to be. (One of many paradoxes of modern life, I’m afraid.)
These are the nifty little tools that keep me sane. May they help you in your quest to stay connected — or disconnected when you don’t have to be.
For when you need wifi to go with you where it’s not available:
A personal 4G device (<< I use Skyroam – and you can get 10% off one with code parttimetraveler.)
For when you need stronger wifi/a secure connection, or want to connect multiple devices:
For when you need phone power:
Mophie back-up battery
For when you need more power:
Travel surge protector
These four simple gadgets cover all connectivity issues for me: 1) do not have Internet or 2) need to strengthen existing Internet, and 3) do not have power and 4) need to maximize existing power. I make a little kit with these four items when I go, and I reduce nearly all worry that I won’t have a connection when I need one.
With this combination, I hardly ever have to think ahead about service or power (and that peace of mind is everything, even when I’m not using my devices.) And then, I get to choose when I work…instead of wasting time searching for a connection or feeling the urgency to do everything at once I find one.
Other options for increasing connectivity:
- T-Mobile global roaming/unlimited data while abroad (I don’t use because it doesn’t work well for me when at home.)
- Local SIM cards (I find this to be a greater hassle than it’s worth, but for many it’s a route worth pursuing.)
- International plan with your current carrier
Personally, I find that 90% of my connectivity needs are served by readily available wifi (especially when paired with above devices) so I don’t bother with international plans. In place of calls or texts I need to make, I use these! >>
Helpful tools you’re probably already using:
- What’s App
- iMessage (free texting from your iPhone via internet connection)
- Facebook Messenger
(These might seems overly obvious, but really it’s just to demonstrate how connected you can remain simply by having wifi.)
Other Great Resource Sites (To Stay Connected While Traveling)
Will My Phone Work? (self-explanatory)
Too Many Adapters (connectivity resource, especially for country-specific SIM card info.)
May wifi connections and 4G networks never replace the beauty and simplicity of sitting across from someone you find interesting. May there never be a screen more enticing that the humanity behind someone’s eyes. And may we continue to contemplate what real connection is, as we add more devices to our repertoire and more apps to our iPhones.