I know it is an agreement that most people would assume is 180degrees from my normal position, but here it is - Having a mobile internet connection definitely negatively impacted on our holiday.
This trip was very different to the 2013. During our time in Myanmar in 2013, there was 1 mobile provider with expensive access (a sim card alone cost $100 AUD). However this time, there were at least 3 providers with relatively cheap - including sim and 5gb for approx $30 AUD.
How did it negatively impact the trip? I hear you ask. It was not until we were in Myanmar, after having travelled to Langkawi, Kuala Lumpur and Genting Highlands in Malaysia that I realised I was spending a lot of time looking down (at my phone) and not up and out.
Maybe it is just me, but I suspect it is a wider concern for people around my age, especially in the west. We have almost instant access to anything we want online, usually via the screens of our mobiles. This post is not meant to be a mobile bashing piece, but I did want to highlight what I missed out on.
I know within myself that if I am going some where that has no connection at all, that is totally fine, I prepare. I lived in East Timor for 6 months in 2008 which when you said you had ‘good internet’ meant that you did not have to share the dialup connection with 4 others. Also mobile data was unheard of. I can cope with that - for a period at least. My issue is when there is a hint of connection, a fleeting blip of connection, I become obsessed with getting the news, Twitter and Facebook on that tiny connection.
This was the case during the 250km, 5 hour car ride from Yangon, Myanmar to the very west coast at Ngwe Saung Beach.
Looking back, it was an issue totally of my making. I was excited to test out one of Myanmar’s new carriers along with staying connected.
I missed out on bonding with my fellow travellers, along with seeing the countryside change as we moved from the lush Irrawaddy Delta into the dryer west coast. Seeing villages that have never had mains power connected, yet use 150w solar panels on top of their palm-fron roofs to power lighting and in some cases a 12v TV to watch football.
Tips for offline travelling
These are some if the things I have done in the past that have helped me enjoy travelling with while remaining offline
If you haven’t already gotten into podcasts, you are missing out! Podcasts are downloadable audio clips. Usually radio segments or audio blogposts. For travelling I prefer things that won’t date. So I don’t listen so much to my nightly news podcast from home, rather I listen to a science or history podcast.
iOS has a podcast app built in, however I prefer DOWNCAST and have set it to only grab new episodes while connected to wifi.
Some suggested long form or serial type podcasts include
- EXTERNAL POWER
We have all seen them, those zombie like creatures that are huddled around the one or two powerpoints in airports and bus stations. Don’t be one of them, seriously just don’t.
Fortunately I was travelling through Asia, with its huge electronics markets and picked myself up a 20,000mAh external battery, The size of a small shoe can be a downside, however I can steer clear of a powerpoint for days. A 5,000mAh would do most people, I am not most people :D. You can read more about my battery obsession here.
- OFFLINE READING
I am always seeing videos, news articles or blog posts that I think “I would love to open that, but I just don’t have time at the moment to watch or read it now”
Well that was before Pocket came into my life. it downloads all the text from a post along with the embedded pictures for offline reading. I smash this every time I am flying or laying on a beach reading.
Coupled with free services like IFTTT you can even set up rules for social media such as “ Every time I fav a tweet with a link, I would like you to save it to pocket for reading later” which is a personal favourite of mine. As for videos, you still need to be online for those, however you will not lose them.
- REMEMBER YOUR PHONE IS MORE THAN AN INTERNET PORTAL
There are so many undervalues apps and features that work fine offline and are a lifesaver for travellers. Whether it is offline google maps for Android, or HERE offline mapping in iOS, your camera with geotagging, watching movies that you have pre transferred.
With a little planning ahead there is no need for mobile data and no need for mobile data to eat into your holiday
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