If you say a more serious “cya” to your friends, you might have a deeper travel experience.
Twenty years ago, losing touch with your friends was an inevitable part of traveling. Now you can send your best friend hourly updates from the Amalfi Coast, make your friends jealous with a Trolltunga photo and Facetime your partner – all in the same day.
However, this may not be as good as it seems: study after study shows the benefits of unplugging—especially when traveling—and many professional backpackers have found that “losing touch” can be a feature—not a bug— on long-term journeys.
That’s not to say you should delete Facebook and tell your mom you never liked her chicken casserole. Everyone has different circumstances. But, if you find the courage to say a serious bye for your mates, you can have a more engaged globetrotting experience.
The first reason is that you will get to know yourself better. Think about it. An average day at home would go like this: wake up, work, Netflix repeat.
The only common theme: keeping the annoying internal monologue at bay. Although people have been doing this for millennia, we are now at a point where it is possible to avoid thinking all day. In 2022, if you’re not listening to a podcast or music, you’re probably working, exercising, sleeping, or watching TV.
Except for the crazy bastards who go to communal ice baths or have the mental fortitude to stick to a meditation routine, most of us these days lack these openings in the day when our pre-smartphone ancestors had no choice but to simply be (or bored).
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Us? We take no chances. Headphones are now as important in the gym as trainers. Cooking is accompanied by music. No commute is complete without a podcast. Youtube suggestions soothe us to sleep.
Not to mention the panic of forgetting your headphones on an hour-long bus ride…
How does this link to losing touch when traveling? Well, unless you’re someone who can have their Instagram and eat it too; if you keep up to date while you’re away, you’ll find yourself messaging old friends when you can make new ones; feel homesick when you can get out and take pictures instead of making memories (as horrible as that sounds).
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Plus, to connect with new people, it helps to have some emotional bandwidth removed from home.
This neglect will become apparent upon your return, but as Nomadic Matt, one of the world’s top travel bloggers once wrote, “Travel accelerates the process of separation and reveals the quality of your friendships.”
“Being away frays the weak bonds you try to maintain while strengthening those that will endure the distance of time and space.”
Anyway: just food for thought and…don’t blame us if you come back and you don’t have any friends.