The other day I saw a story on the local news that said something like, “Can’t afford to take a vacation this year? Then do the next best thing – download an app!” The newsreader went on to tell us that there are now apps for your phone that show you 360º views of beautiful vacation spots from all around the world. “It’s the perfect way to travel in this recession!” the anchor chirped.
“Well, sure,” I thought. “If you’re a freaking moron.”
But the more I considered this idea, the more I started to think that maybe looking at scenic panoramas on your cell isn’t such a bad alternative to traveling after all. You don’t have to leave your air-conditioned house, your cash output’s low, and you won’t miss even a single episode of Extreme Coupon Hoarders On A Jersey Shore Fishing Boat. What’s not to like?
With that in mind, yesterday I decided to take a “trip” to Maui. (Any place whose natural resources are pineapple, pork and piña coladas is just fine by me.) So I sat down at my desk, downloaded the travel app and waited for my relaxing vacation to kick in. Ten minutes later, I was still waiting. Believe it or not, staring at pictures of a sandy beach on a 3.5-inch screen covered in greasy fingerprints doesn’t exactly put you in an island state of mind. It puts you in more of a “I think it might be time to invest in bifocals and hand sanitizer” state of mind.
But I wasn’t ready to give up on the virtual travel idea just yet, so I opted to try again, albeit with some minor adjustments. Just a few things that would make my experience seem more realistic. More like I was actually going to Hawaii.
So this time, I started my trip by waiting in line in our fluorescent lit garage for 20 minutes, then I asked my husband to check my ID and grope me like a surly TSA agent. (Unfortunately, he did his job a little too well and now he keeps asking me when he can do it again.) Then, once I cleared security, I squeezed myself into one of my kids’ tiny chairs and told the boys to kick the back of my seat for an hour while they screamed bloody murder and vomited honey roasted peanuts on my neck. I have to say, it was just like being on an airplane, only instead of fluffy clouds, the view from my window was of my freaky neighbor Gary mowing his lawn without a shirt. But who cared? I was going to Maui, baby!
Next, I had the kids hide my suitcase and pickpocket my wallet, then I checked into our cramped half-bathroom where I took a nap on the floor with a germy pillow while my family made jackhammer noises outside the door. Finally, after a cold waffle and a cup of bitter coffee that made my bicuspids hurt, I was ready.
I quickly put on my new swimsuit, slathered myself with sunscreen, and rolled around in our sandbox until I looked like a middle-aged piece of Chicken Cordon Bleu. Then I joyfully threw my beach towel on the ground, turned on some relaxing luau music and picked up my iPhone. I was all set to enjoy the warm island breezes and the sweet tropical flavors. “Aloha, Maui! Here I come!” I yelled.
And that’s when I found out the number one problem with taking a vacation on your iPhone: battery power. Because by the time I was finally ready to relax and enjoy the gorgeous views of Hawaii, my phone had died and all I saw was a static black screen. My summer vacation had suddenly become a trip to the bottom of a well. I was so upset, I couldn’t even enjoy the $15 umbrella drink I bought from my cat at the swim-up bar/bathtub.
So this summer, I think I’ll put away the technology away and take a real vacation. It’s obvious that I need one.
My essay that originally appeared in a slightly different form in AustinWomanMagazine. Image courtesy AWM.