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SXSW 2015: Managing digital burnout with travel

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SXSW Interactive is this crazy collision of the Internet of Everything, wearable tech, selfies, social media on crack, mobile, near field communication (NFC), shareability, robots, making digital into 3D tangibility and… well… anything that can be digitized and connected. Whew! I fully drained and re-charged my phone battery every 4-6 hours with how much online time I was putting in during the fest. Now that it’s all over, I’m enjoying not being connected 24/7.

Five nights of SXSW, I went to the Drafthouse to catch whatever late showing was going on for Film. The Alamo is known for their no texting, no talking policy, so putting my phone on silent and tucking it away in my purse for 90 minutes was a welcome break. Of course, I can’t stay away for too long. People start to worry or get frustrated or get mad if you don’t respond within 15 minutes. Those are the expectations of today’s connected world.

Maybe this is my age showing, but I want a break from all the tech. I NEED to disconnect for bits of time to just… decompress and not have my phone buzzing with another notification. I attended a session at the Yahoo lounge at Brazos Hall with a panel of people who deliberately unplugged so they could travel.

At the start of the session, they asked people to raise their hands whether they had ever gone a day without their phone or computer… 3 days, a week, 2 weeks. And somehow I was the only one with my hand up at 2 weeks. When my husband and I went on a 2 week trip to Germany a few years ago, we didn’t have smartphones then and didn’t bother to put an International plan on our dumb-phones. No laptops. No tablets. Nothing but our printed itinerary and the phone numbers of our German friends. It felt weird to not be connected to Facebook and Twitter or even text messaging. We did end up buying a cheap flip phone (burn phone?) because we could not figure out how to dial the right area codes on pay phones to get in touch with said friends, but there was no social media function to it. We felt like true travel adventurers in a foreign country.

Since that session, my wanderlusting heart has been beating pretty hard. I picked up this journal from World Market, which I’ve now made into my travel bucket list.

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It has these inspirational quotes throughout that make me want to get in the car and take the whole family to our closest beach. It also reminded me of so many times when I travel that I am simply breathtaken by the scenery and the sounds and air.

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I’ve lived in Texas nearly my entire life, and since it’s the second largest state in the Union, there is still so much I want to explore. So I started a list of places I want to go in Texas (or go back to visit). You can see we’ve already ticked the Shiner Brewery and Lockhart BBQ off our list. The next page in my book is places in Austin specifically that we have yet to visit, like the Continental Club and Chicken Sh*t Bingo.

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Whether it’s digging my toes back into the warm Miami sand…findingdrishti-sxsw2015-travel-miami

Or standing in the grandeur that is Mt. Rainier…

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… I think it’s so important to put a pause on the tech and connect with nature and culture and people and ideas from other places. All of it adds up to something bigger than ourselves. And in more cases than not, its impact is much more lasting than the momentary thrill of a little interactive diddy that we’ll play with now and move on to something else later.

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