Backpacking in the News

Link to article: Backpackers trek the globe with tech toys

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter, as well as applications like Skype, are allowing backpackers to connect with family and friends more easily than ever before, wrote Natalie Armstrong of Reuters (Dec. 7).

Armstrong describes Canadian traveler Dave Arnold, who is on a one-year trip after taking a buyout from his telecom employer (see 44. Quitting your job). Carrying about $9,000 worth of electronic devices, Arnold is a walking Price Is Right Showcase for third-world muggers. He’s also an example of what’s become known as a “flashpacker” (see Backpacker Types, by Nomadic Matt).

It appears the folks over at the L.P. finally heard our call (see 8. The Lonely Planet; and The L.P. on iTunes), making their guidebooks downloadable to iPods and iPhones. Arnold has 100 downloaded guidebooks on his iPod, plus 10 books and his entire music collection.

In fact, Armstrong also writes about a South Korean girl who used her iPhone 4 for everything old fogeys like I used to use the L.P. for: maps, hostels, and information on local sights, food, etc.

All this is fine and dandy, just as long as you don’t slip and fall into a swimming pool or something while carrying all your gear.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Backpacking in the News”

  1. John says:

    There is a middle way….
    On one hand: yes - this is genuine progress. Evolution of the traveller, etc. Guidebooks are helpful and even more so if you can carry several in your backpocket at once. However, the downfall is that one tends to become obsessed with having EVERYTHING prepared (which goes against the very art and idealogy of Travel…The road must be spontaneous and it will throw things at you, making it all predetermined will make for a very dull trip indeed.)
    Mr Arnold seems to go against traveller’s more natural inclinations. Especially with the amount of Camera lenses he is taking. But then… perhaps he really IS a professional BBC photographer. I understand his situation… you sit at home, for months (or in my case: years) planning your trip and imagining it… which is probably the worst thing you can do. for you are only creating an alternative reality which will never happen thus leading to disappointment.
    But you want to be PREPARED damnit… you want to be the traveller who breaks down in the midddle of East Fuckyak but managed to have his Leatherman on him. BUt…. lets not get carried away folks. Let us keep it to the bare minimum and the luxuries - only essential luxuries. (SLR, ipod, Leatherman?) and always remember that having too much of these things will take away the whole trip from you. Sure… you will have EVIDENCE to take home; but….you will not really be there in the moment… you will be too busy capturing it all on your digital life and Facebook Updates in order to sell your ‘global soul’ life to your mates in order to make them jealous. Fuck that… just BE THERE. NOW.
    Do yourself a favour and read Eric Fromm’s To Have or To Be? inwhich Fromm asks: ‘If i am what i have, and if what i have is gone…what then am i?’
    The answer….’Nothing but a defeated, deflated pathetic testimony to a wrong way of living.’
    Jack Kerouac… in his vision of future backpackers and genuine hobos(Dhama Bums and On the Road)… (’Into the Wild’ style) echoed Fromm’s point. BEING, not HAVING.
    So….in conclusion: gadgets are good. and lets not despise people for not having the massive LP guides merely because we are Bibliophiles and think we have the authority to discuss ‘The Good Old Days.’
    Yet…let us appreciate the significance and gross dangers of living THROUGH a gadget and not THROUGH our own eyes.
    As the Buddhists say: You are watching the finger pointing to the moon and not the moon itself.
    (Excuse my rambling.)

  2. Brad says:

    Hi. I have something for you. Some photos taken on the ferry and bus between Phangan, Ko Tao and Bangkok. Three episodes at the time of this comment, more to come. I’m trying hard to have a Buddhist attitude towards them and I will let you know if I will ever succeed.

Leave a Reply