#makeITsafePH: How to make traveling enjoyable and safe
Our current world is made smaller and easier to navigate because of technology. However, instead of making the digital world enhance our lives, we have become too caught up with technology that it has consumed our day-to-day lives. For some of us, technology has become our masters instead of us to be masters of it. I remember when I was in the corporate world, I always look forward to traveling to remind me what “life” is really all about, not something confined in the corners of my cubicle and my computer screen. Similarly, I also get out from too much activity in the digital space by traveling so that I can expand my horizon geographically, culturally, emotionally, socially, intellectually and spiritually.
I have observed that a lot of us has become too excited with social media that it has taken over the pleasure of making the most of our travel moments. While there’s nothing wrong with the exhilaration that social media brings, this excitement sometimes make us forget and neglect our privacy and safety.
For a better understanding of how expansive cyberspace is, Hootsuite, a US-based social media management platform, has released its “Digital in 2018” report on social media and digital trends around the world. The report revealed that the Philippines now has 67 million Internet users, with all of them active on social media. This widespread use of the internet gives rise to the emergence of internet-related crimes such as rape, theft, bullying and piracy which made the public, especially the youth, very vulnerable.
Because of this, Globe Telecom, being a purveyor of the digital lifestyle, came out with the #makeITsafePH cybersecurity and cyber-wellness campaign to educate consumers about online threats and what they can do to avoid becoming a victim. The campaign also teaches the public proper online etiquette so that they would not become a source of such deplorable behavior.
To #makeITsafePH when you travel, here are a few tips I’d want to share so that you can make the most of your travel experiences without worrying about your safety or ruining your adventure. These are all based on my experience, so you might not totally agree with what I post here, and I fully understand that. One thing I have learned by observing online activities is the need for RESPECT. You may not get that from others, but it doesn’t mean you should do the same. Give respect even when it is not returned by understanding and accepting that there are different opinions, reasons, and point-of-view.
1.) Don’t post your detailed travel plans
I never posted a photo of my visa, tickets or travel documents online. I also don’t announce when I’m taking a trip. I used to live by myself, and I didn’t want others to know that I’m not at home on certain dates. I only inform my family, close friends or those who should know of my whereabouts. Remember that what you put online might be seen by a complete stranger. There are many thefts happening around us, not only burglary but also identity theft. When you’re miles away, it’s hard to keep track of such occurrences.
2.) Enjoy the moment, not post the moment
Another way to #makeITsafePH for me is not to post ATM (at the moment) photos or information. Not that I have any stalker, but I’m just thinking ahead to prevent anyone to know my actual location. I would usually delay my post, like do it at the end of the day, or when I come back from my trip. Unless it’s a fam trip or sponsored trip, wherein I need to share the places I visit, I would do so but limit my ATM posts or only share it to a select group of people. I remember taking a sponsored trip where we had to post photos as we go along the journey. There were a number of men that were following us around because they could see online where we were going. Although it felt overwhelming, as if we were some sort of celebrity, it was also a bit creepy.
Sometimes when you travel, you are present, but you are not really present because your reality is in your gadget, not the world around you. So, enjoy a quiet moment by the sea, interact with the locals, savor the local flavors, and absorb each moment before they slip away.
3.) Document for memories not for bragging
I capture photos because I want to look at them after my trip or years after to relish the memory. Taking photos for my blog or social media account is secondary. In fact, what I share online is only about 1-5% of all the photos I have taken. Majority of it is for my personal consumption. For me, my number audience or reader is my future self. Yes, I also think of my readers and followers, but I don’t let that thought put pressure on myself. At the end of the day (or at the end of the trip), those memories are mine, and not by some other person.
Again, I treat social media as a community bulletin board, so I am extra careful of what I post online. I don’t want to overdo things because I don’t want my posts to generate envy, although others may see it otherwise. Rather, my purpose is to inspire and motivate others, not to make them feel bad for themselves. We may not have complete control of the thoughts of other people, but we have full control over what we post.
4.) Share only what is for public consumption
In relation to no. 3 above, I post information that can be helpful to the readers, especially those who are doing research for their future trips. I do a lot of research when I travel, and I know how it feels when you don’t have enough information or when they are not verified or updated. I share what I think would be helpful to others online. However, I also make sure that what I put out are good for public consumption. I may add my own observation or experience, but I try not to cloud my judgment and don’t use my blog or social media to put others down. Sometimes, we may be sharing TMI (too much information) of ourselves or of other people. Editing is important. Read and reread everything before you publish anything.
5.) Make social media work for you, not you for social media
When you are traveling, don’t be too pressured with the thought that people are waiting for you to post. For me, it is a medium to promote a destination or my blog. However, I don’t allow it to stress me out. When I travel, I would browse on social media to get tips or information on the place I am visiting, not because I need to post something. I must admit that I am currently in the state wherein I don’t spend as much time on social media as I used to do. Call me lazy, but I find more enjoyment in just sitting around, enjoying my surroundings, and allowing the beauty of the scenery before me to occupy my mind, rather than keeping my eyes and mind focused on my smartphone. In the first place, my personal vacation is my time for rest and recreation.
Traveling for work is another thing, but traveling for pleasure is just that — it should be leisurely.
Also, even though I’m a blogger, and social media is part of the scope of that role, I still prioritise enjoying the experience over what I need to do for my blog. I don’t usually think of what I need to post or write while I’m in the moment. I put that out of my mind because I don’t want the moment to just pass me by. I don’t want to be too engrossed in the online activity that I get to miss the awesomeness and wonder of the real world. One time, a fellow blogger told me that she would often put down her phone and camera and her eyes absorb the beauty of nature rather than looking at it through the lens or phone screen. Indeed, the feeling is different when you just allow your eyes to wander and wonder at nature.
Traveling is fun. With the advent of technology, traveling is brought to a whole new level. But let technology work for you, not you for technology. Sometimes, you need to go off the grid and just enjoy what the present moment can bring. Most of all, don’t allow your enjoyment to be endangered by using social media without putting so much thought into what you post and share. Traveling is more enjoyable when you don’t have to worry about online safety. It’s better to #makeITsafePH when you travel.