I forget, sometimes, just how dependent on internet connection we can be. This past week on the road, I learned a valuable lesson on the importance of connection, though perhaps not the kind that you might think.
It was a Friday afternoon when I watched Mary and Jerry’s car drive off down the road. We were house-sitting their home for the week. I sat on the couch with Wally, their sweet nine-year-old King Charles Cavalier spaniel. His breathing was shallow and anxious as he slowly realized that his parents had just left him with a stranger.
After comforting Wally, I headed over to the kitchen table to do some writing. As I turned on my laptop, I realized that I had forgotten to ask Mary for the WiFi password. I needed internet connection to do my work for the week.
No problem, I thought to myself, I’ll just use my phone as a hotspot.
It was sufficient for the moment, but I knew that I couldn’t rely on my phone for internet connection the whole week, unless I wanted to pay extra for data on my next phone bill.
Before our trip, we had bought a TEP Wireless personal WiFi hotspot, to give us internet connection on the road. I decided this week would be the perfect week to give the TEP a try.
A couple of days later, I switched on the TEP to test out the internet connection. It worked for a few hours during the day, and then in the evening it got stuck. The spinning wheel just kept spinning, and the websites wouldn’t load. No matter how many times I restarted the TEP, or disconnected and reconnected to the TEP, I just wasn’t getting any internet connection.
I was getting frustrated. I needed internet connection to post on the blog, check my bank accounts, and interview people via Skype for an article that I was writing. And come Monday, my husband would need internet connection to do his work during the week.
Stop being so melodramatic, Astrid, I told myself, this is part of your reality now, deal with it.
We’ve been spoiled with fast internet connection for the last seven years. We’ll undoubtedly come across many more moments like this during our travels. I needed to retrain myself to be fine with slow internet connection, as a great deal of the world is not as technologically privileged as the United States.
But not matter how much I tried to reassure myself, or put things in perspective, I just couldn’t let go of my frustrations and anger at my lack of internet connection.
Then on Tuesday, Mary called to check in. After a few minutes of chatting, I remembered to ask her for the WiFi password.
“Oh you poor thing,” she said after giving me the password, “have you been going this whole time without internet?”
“It’s okay,” I told her, “I was able to make do.”
I was too embarrassed to reveal to her my dependency on fast internet.
The rest of the week was productive, as I got caught up with work, expense tracking, and travel planning. But the whole fixation on having fast internet connection made me realize how much I was overlooking what was more important: connecting with my family.
This past week, I got to spend time with my husband and hang out with him. I started homeschooling my kids and got to really see how they learn and interact with others. This trip will bring many moments of connection like these, and I am thankful that we have this opportunity.
After our house-sitting gig was done, we headed to Seaquest State Park for a weekend of camping with my younger sister and her husband. It was one of the Washington State Parks that we had yet to explore.
Funny enough, there was no service on our phones at the state park, and I had to make do with no internet connection the whole weekend. But I had learned my lesson.
No matter where we go during our travels, having fast internet connection will be important for us to do our work and stay connected with those back home. But I mustn’t lose sight of what is actually important during this trip, the connection we make with each other as a family.
Are you as dependent on fast internet connection as I am? How do you deal with slow internet connection on your travels?
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