Leaving Technology Behind on Fraser Island
We sat silently in the truck as we made our way to the ferry. Passengers were not to be in the vehicles while they were loaded onto the boat, so my boyfriend and I walked on and grabbed a seat on the deck. It already felt awkward–the start of a tour always does. No one knows each other; everyone is shy or already forming cliques and leaving others standing to the side. It’s like being back in high school except that everyone is in their mid-twenties.
This feeling lasted only as long as the ferry ride. When we re-loaded into our cars and pushed through the soft sand, we started bouncing around the backseat like old friends. Some people hit their heads and we all laughed; names were exchanged and photos were taken.
Fraser Island is a beautiful place; it’s the largest sand island in the world and we were about to spend three days camping and four-wheeling around it. Our campsite had no electricity, no one had cell phone service and you could only pack a small bag, so fancy electronics were left behind. All we had at night were flashlights and beer cans. It was the best three days of my entire eight-week trip.
When I finished my whirlwind tour I was constantly asked, “What was your favorite place?” and I always answered, “Fraser Island.” For a while, I couldn’t explain it; the beaches were gorgeous and the natural freshwater lakes were really fun, but it wasn’t the most picturesque place I had been.
It was the overall experience. It was the fact that no one was buried in their smartphones or tablets. We were a big group of curious travelers left to our own devices. We blasted music as we maneuvered our way on the off-road tracks until someone inevitably got stuck; then we cheered the driver on and shouted, “Congrats!” when he or she managed to get un-stuck. It was an incredible group bonding experience that I didn’t have at any other time on my travels.
Maybe I was just lucky and had a great group of people or maybe it was a combination of things. I think when we are taken out of our comfort zones, we are more likely to bond with others who feel the same way. I also think that not having technology to get between us allowed us to have real conversations and get to know one another on a level playing field. I love Twitter and Facebook as much as the next travel blogger, but it’s those times spent away from the screen interacting with real people that create the best memories. The beaches and the lakes helped too.