Once upon a time when you went on holiday you waved goodbye to your family and friends and you saw them again in a fortnight.
Apart from a postcard which usually arrived in the UK about 10 days after you did, that was it. Maybe a phonecall if you needed to check in about something really important.
Otherwise you really got away from it all.
Oh how things have changed.
Now, if you haven’t texted to say you’re off the plane; at baggage reclaim; in the taxi… your nearest and dearest go into meltdown.
“Have you heard from them?”
“No, haven’t you? Do you think they’re ok?”
“Let’s text them and check . . .”
Technology has truly taken over the holiday experience.
Time was you went to the travel agent having perused a glossy brochure and booked your hotel with little more than her word for it that it was “A lovely place – I’ve been there myself”.
Unless your chosen resort had featured in a tabloid “holiday from hell” expose, you were blissfully ignorant until the minute you pulled up outside.
Not any more.
Now you’ll have taken the virtual tour of the hotel, checked the local restaurant menus so you know exactly what you’ll be eating on any given night, hit up Google Earth to check that the gloriously planted garden isn’t actually the central reservation of a four-lane motorway between you and the beach, and measured the 10-minute walk into town only to discover it was uphill and that even Usain Bolt would find it a tall order.
Then there’s all the paraphernalia you have to take with you.
Everyone has a phone and every phone has a charger . . . sod’s law dictates that nobody in your party can actually use the same one, so you bung them all in.
Then there are iPods, iPads, netbooks, laptops . . . all with chargers. And at least four adaptors.
When you used to go to the beach, the only entertainment, apart from watching the Germans play bat-and-ball, was a tattered wordsearch magazine and a paperback.
Now he’s playing Fifa 2011 on his DS and she’s trying not to get sand in her Kindle…
And you can forget the evening chorus of crickets . . . now there’s a cacophony of Blackberry chirrups as the signal kicks in and a whole backlog of emails flood in simultaneously around the bar.
Friends text to say they’re in Mojito, where are you? Mothers at home ring to make sure you’re using sun protection and mothers in resort phone home to make sure their home-alone offspring haven’t burnt the place down.
Of course everyone takes a camera (and its charger…).
And while there used to be that delicious anticipation to see your pics when they came back from Boots – usually with quality control stickers pasted all over them – the digital age means you’ve seen ’em, edited ’em and (more importantly) vetoed the ones in which you look fat/drunk/simple as you go along.
Indeed most of them are on Facebook before the last revellers have left the restaurant.
Who needs postcards when you can simply update your status and make all your friends green with envy?
Rachel is on a sun lounger with a cocktail; James is topping up his tan while waterskiing; Sarah drank this fishbowl cocktail last night and is having a day in bed . . .
And while you used to meet “that nice couple from Solihull” and get (and promptly lose) their address, the 21st century holiday pals have been friended and Linked-in before the third bottle of Angora.
But it’s not all bad.
Songs that remind you of your holiday can be downloaded there and then; friends without water can send a desperate text begging for a shower; impromptu get-togethers can be arranged in minutes . . .
And when you’re safely back at home, there’s always another little reminder of your lovely two weeks in the sun . . . the bills for all that social activity and the month of poverty to pay for it.
Sadly there’s not an app for that . . .