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Why We Can't Travel Without Free WiFi & Social Media

I am writing this post from a Starbucks in Pattaya, Thailand. Unlike most people I did not chose this Starbucks for the Mango Frappe in my hand or the comfortable chairs. I also did not chose it, like most coffee addicted college students, for it's free wifi. In fact quite surprisingly Starbucks in Thailand charges you to use wifi. If someone at their head office is reading this post would you please do something about this before my next trip? Though on this evening the lack of wifi is exactly why I am here.

I wanted to disconnect.

I wanted to write this.

This trip to Thailand began a little over two weeks ago and the transit included major cities such as Sydney, Singapore and Bangkok. As I browsed for deals on hotels, looked around for places to eat, and most importantly drink coffee, I have been surprised at the level of influence Free WiFi has had over my decision making. It's hot here so AC is important but even that seemed to be negotiable when it came to being connected.

I have been offline for long stretches on this trip. That is not a problem for me. Though I have been fascinated by the pull staying connected has had. There are definitely risks involved with this. I have often seen entire families glued to their devices while on holiday. This desire to connect can often pull us away from important relationships and experiences. For example I did not fly all the way to Thailand to hang out with friends back in Australia on Facebook all day. My wife and I are here on a missions trip and spent the first week at an international missions conference. The conference also did not have WiFi which, while frustrating at times, made for a much more powerful experience.

I believe connection is a God given desire.

A desire that this digital age has the potential to draw out of us unlike any generation before us. It shows our deep need for relationship. While we should be aware of the negative effects we need to be careful to not just criticize. We must also look at how it can actually place relationship above other desires and comforts. As I travel in the future I plan to continue to disconnect when I need to. Though I will also see messaging my brother in Mexico and Skyping my Dad in Hawaii as far more important then a comfortable hotel room.

What do you think? What are the 3 top features for you in choosing a hotel when traveling?

Cable TV, Air Conditioning, Swimming Pool, WiFi Access, Beautiful View, Complimentary Breakfast.