Gavin Tollman

Trafalgar’s CEO, Gavin Tollman, takes time out of his schedule to share his thoughts on the state of the industry. This month, he talks to us about why travellers need to pause social media & live for the moment.

If it didn’t appear on social media, were we really there?

If it were not for the posted images, would we remember we were there? Or, is it because we were busy taking the shots that we were not able to feel we were there?

At the end of May I was in “Big Sky Country” in the USA – a place where no lens, no imagination even, can capture the magnitude of the vast beautiful blue above. En route to an Advisory Board Meeting, I took some time out to fulfill a bucket list dream with my family. We stepped back in time, into the Wild West, to experience a cattle drive at a wonderful ranch in Wyoming.

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Image: Jeff Finley/Unsplash

It was here that I witnessed something with one of our fellow cowboys that jarred with me. As we took in our surrounds and decompressed from the frenetic outside world – someone raised a mobile phone, then ducked their head, absorbed in feeding the omni-present 24/7/365 social media habit. Time stood still…people and place paused…purely to ensure that posting was the priority. This churned a number of thoughts for me, shouldn’t we be living in the moment, or forever forward thinking about what to post and what would be “liked” the most? In that split second of seeking social recognition are we depriving ourselves of the “pinch me” moments, by not taking time to be truly in awe of our surroundings?

Technology has the power to either widen, or constrict, the lens through which we see the world. The choice is ours. I fully advocate engaging in social media with purpose. Live your life fully, make memories but always be in the moment, without the hunger for instantaneous, online feedback. The very essence of travel should never change. In our minds, hearts, and mobile devices we must never forget that the voyage of discovery needs to be inspired by the uniqueness of the destination itself.

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Image: Jakob Owens/Unsplash

Being mindful during your travels means taking the minute between when your food is served not to find the perfect angle for Instagram or Facebook, but instead reflect on how fortunate you are to have this experience, in this intriguing destination, with friends old and new.

Before you take off on your travels next, I ask you to consider some simple steps to make the most of the lifetime opportunities:

Cherish what you see: Moments of our lives are the most beautiful in their most raw form. Filters and photo-shopping only falsify the beauty of the here and now.

Be yourself: Our online selves can become a dramatically different to the real world of our daily selves. Be true to you.

Be disciplined: Manners matter. No more needs to be said.

Regain balance: Enjoy the freedom and the honesty of low tech from time to time. As shared earlier, so often our tech-connections cause us to disconnect from the rhythm of our lives.

Be Present: Love the moment you are in, without worrying about the ‘likes’.

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Image: Josh Rose/Unsplash

I am not advocating that travelers go completely offline, cutting themselves off from technology. All I am saying is what we all know to be true: do not let the virtual moment eclipse the emotion of the real moment.

Also, every now and then, it does feel wonderful to unplug and escape from social media and from the internet in general. It reminds us to enjoy the silence, the beauty of our surroundings and using all the senses to be still and peaceful, because we can.

We are not machines, we are human. And the legacy of love for connectivity to people and place will always outlive the instant “likes” online.

 

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What do you do to ensure you’re ‘in the moment’?