READER REPORT:

Traveller kill joy: the iPad

BRUCE LEONARD
Last updated 05:00 18/10/2012
iPad
PAUL HANNA/ Reuters

iPads offer information solutions, but for a traveller they may come with the cost of exciting discovery.

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We are a two iPad family. We love them. But the iPad and its apps are eliminating what has long been the fun of travel to foreign destinations.

The holiday experience has always been enhanced by the unexpected, the unknown, unprepared cameos of interaction with the ‘locals’.

Now, any required information is freely available through a few quick taps on the iPad screen, thereby arming the traveller to avoid any surprises or pitfalls. But for us, surprises are what make a holiday.

Travelling around France, we recall the emotion we experienced when encountering a panoramic view of lavender fields, the joy enhanced because we didn’t know they were there.

Or the delight when a French lady in the village of Chateauneuf du Pape took us to her home to give us some bread, as we did not know the boulangerie was closed.

Now, due to the exhaustive information that can be accessed on Trip Advisor, Yelp, Chowhound and a myriad of apps and websites, such experiences of spontaneity are being compromised.

The real culprit in this ‘sanitisation syndrome’ of holidays is the iPad and its provision of mobile connectivity.

Three years ago, even two, the breakfast table in our BnB was alive with animated conversation as guests from different countries exchanged views of their most recent experiences.

Now, the overriding sound is tap, tap, tap. Normally there is a ratio of one iPad to two people, but it is not uncommon for that ratio to be 1:1.

We kid you not.

Recently a middle-aged guest covered her guilt by saying: "I guess it is like reading the paper at the breakfast table".

But when all the attractions and sights of Burgundy are outside our front door, why on Earth spend an hour reading the ‘at-home’ newspaper. This is frequently followed by a session of emailing, or the use of Skype.

We find ourselves regularly having to coax our guests outside – ‘remember, the shops/chateaux/attractions will close at noon’.

This of course is code for – ‘put away your flipping iPad, get going, and enjoy what France and the French have to offer’.

The next generation of holidaymaker is already on its way to redefining the term ‘holiday experience’.

Last month we had a lovely Italian family to stay. Their daughter was not long back from a week’s summer camp where the sole subject was 'how to use an iPad'. She is six years old.

To my dismay, a holiday lacking surprises is going to become the norm.

Yes, the mobile/wifi technology is fantastic, but a holiday with laughter over a mangled foreign language conversation, or being on the receiving end of an unscripted act of kindness from a ‘local’ due to my own ignorance will always win hands down for me.


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