In the era of Google Maps and smartphones, we often turn to the convenience of digital maps in our phone apps to navigate our way through our travels. Of course there is always the good old trusty physical maps that is available for free at the airports and tourist information points, but we have become so dependent on the easy accessibility of maps to the extent that we feel unsafe and at panic when we fail to get internet or GPS connection.
Truthfully, I am a major culprit for depending on Google Maps to navigate my every route, even if the destination I want to get to is somewhere I have been just a few hours before. I trapped myself within the six by three inches rectangular screen of my Samsung smartphone rather than allowing myself to stretch out into the beautiful place that I am visiting. Google Maps makes it difficult for us to disconnect from the security of always knowing where we are and suppressing our inner curiousity-driven spirit.
To refuel our soul with wonder, disconnection from technology is necessary to rediscover the art of getting lost and being in the present moment. I recently discovered that during all of my holidays, the true adventure starts the moment I put my phone away. It’s as though technology has numbed all five of my senses and by disconnecting, I am regaining the feeling of being alive. During my trip to Italy with my friend last spring, the best memories that we had was when we were aimlessly wondering through the labyrinth streets of the bohemian neighbourhood of Trastevere in Rome. We had no maps, no phones; just the both of us, a golden sunset, and a double-scooped gelato in our hands. We spent two weeks in Italy visiting seven cities, and yet that was one of the most distinct memories that I have of the trip.
Navigating with a physical map is extremely exciting, especially if you don’t know where you are. Unlike the GPS, physical maps will show you where things are, but not an exact pinpointed dot of where you are. The journey of getting from one destination to another is an adventure within itself. We may come across things we didn’t expect to find and places we didn’t know existed just because it was not on the top suggestions in Trip Advisor or Lonely Planet. When I was in Copenhagen during the winter break, my boyfriend and I did the standard ‘touristy’ plan of visiting the main attractions in the city. In the midst of walking from one attraction to another, we discovered this board game café, the Bastard Café, where customers can sit down and play a game for free and as long as they wish. It was an interesting discovery because first of all, it was more of a bar than a café and secondly, it was free! These are the type of unique sights that are not covered by your typical search of “top ten things to do in Copenhagen”.
Needless to say, I am not trying to discourage you from using Google Maps or other phone map apps. However, it would not hurt to disconnect from time to time during your travels to spark and reignite your wanderlust.