My family just finished a great vacation in Iceland. I can describe this wonderful country in a nutshell: it’s truly unspoiled, has considerably more sheep than people, and possesses all types of terrain. But I’m not really intending to write about Iceland; instead, I want to tell you how this trip impressed upon me the power of information technology in our lives.
It never fails: just before I leave on vacation, somebody chastises me to leave the laptop at home and take a break from email. As if! A vacation is precisely the time I need my laptop the most, and this trip to Iceland proved it. Technology increasingly is becoming a necessary part of any vacation, and my family can’t leave home without it.
Instead of hunting down paper postcards, stamps, and post offices (which I never really enjoyed,) we send instant email postcards home.
We engage in real-time conversations with our family and friends, who can react in near real-time to our photos and get a sense of what our vacation is like before we ever get home.
We talk with our hotels online and check out places to eat on the web, with reviews from people who’ve been there.
We take zillions of photos every day with our Casio EX-Z750 digital camera, upload them to our Apple PowerBook, and then enjoy a slide show every evening. It’s great fun and beats watching the BBC all the time.
Here in Iceland the roads are narrow, steep, and often suitable only for four-wheel-drive vehicles. Just as often, the roads through mountain passes are closed due to inclement weather. One day we spent a great deal of time and terror making our way up a steep pass, only to find that it dead-ended in a glacier. Using the Internet to check road conditions is par for the course here in Iceland.
There is free wifi everywhere in Iceland, which means no more searching for an International Herald Tribune — we can just check in on the CNN website to catch the latest. My son checks ESPN, NHL, Major League Baseball, his Yahoo! Mail account and Facebook.
Want some music on your vacation? My Apple iTunes collection becomes a stereo system for our hotel rooms, no matter how remote a location we’re in.
Okay, so I admit that I check my work-related email now and again while on vacation, but not much, really. Mostly, I’m off enjoying myself, and marveling at the power of technology to improve our vacations. Take the photo, above: my husband took this snapshot from the window of our little hotel in Latrabjarg. He uploaded it from his camera to the laptop, then emailed it to me over the hotel’s wifi network. I received it at my email account and uploaded it to the blog. How cool is that?
Leave my lap top at home? Never!
Lucy Sanders is CEO and Co-founder of NCWIT. You can catch up with her later to see photos of puffins, fjords, sheep, and her dusty rental car.