Twenty years ago, losing touch with your friends was an inevitable part of travelling. Now you can send your best mate hourly updates from the Amalfi coast, make your friends jealous with a Trolltunga pic and Facetime your partner – all in the same day.
However, this might not be as great as it seems: study after study shows the benefits of disconnecting – especially when travelling – and numerous (see here and here) professional backpackers have found ‘losing touch’ is a feature – not a bug – of long term travel.
That’s not to say you should delete your Facebook and tell your mum you never liked her chicken casserole. Everyone has different circumstances. But, if you find the courage (and are at liberty) to say a serious adios, you may have a better globetrotting experience.
Why? Well, if you’re anything like me, you’ll get to know yourself better. Think about it. An average day at home will go like this: wake, work, Netflix repeat.
The one common theme: keeping that pesky internal monologue at bay. And – even though people have been doing this for millennia – we’ve now reached a crescendo where it is possible to avoid thinking literally all day.
Think about it: there would always be slots in the day when our ice-and-industrial-age ancestors had no choice but to just be.
Us? We take no chances. Headphones are now as essential at the gym as sneakers. Cooking is accompanied by music. No commute is complete without a podcast. Youtube suggestions soothe us to sleep.
Not to mention the agony of forgetting your headphones on an hour-long bus trip.
How does this link to ‘losing touch’ when you travel? Well, unless you’re someone that can have their Instagram and eat it too, if you stay in the loop while away you’ll find yourself taking photos when you should be inhaling, posing when you should be basking and curating when you should be doing.
Plus, to connect with new people, it helps to have cleared some emotional bandwidth from back home.
This neglect will become apparent when you get back, but as Nomadic Matt, one of the world’s foremost travel bloggers once wrote, “Travel expedites the process of separation and exposes the quality of your friendships.”
“Being away frays the weak bonds you attempt to maintain while strengthening the ones that will withstand the distance of time and space.”
Anyway: just food for thought. Preferably to be mulled over from an Incan hiking trail, Barcelona Bunkers, or an Italian Macdonalds, surrounded by new friends.