When I first heard about the release of Pokémon Go I didn’t pay any attention. I don’t care about video games or imaginary Japanese critters. Why would I want to travel with Pokémon Go?
Turns out there are several reasons to travel with Pokémon Go. I get that I am a middle aged woman who should think Pokémon is silly, but so are Facebook and sit coms and I still stare at those. At least this gets us outside.
What is Pokémon Go?
If you aren’t familiar with the Pokémon Go app, I’ll give you a quick overview. Pokémon Go is a free-to-play, location-based augmented reality game. Got it? Just kidding. It’s an app you download on your phone. In the Pokémon game, you walk around trying to catch Pokémon (the little Japanese critters I mentioned). There are Pokémon all over the world, you just can’t see them unless you have the app. You go to PokéStops to get more Poké Balls and other items you need for catching Pokémon. There’s more to it than that, and you can read about it here.
Reasons I Travel with Pokémon Go
Even if I wasn’t interested, my kids were, so I decided to check it out. They don’t have a device that they can play Pokémon games on, so it had to happen on my phone.
Kids Become the Teachers
It turns out Pokémon Go is even fun for parents. It gives the boys and I something to do together that we all enjoy. We do lots of things together so it’s not like I needed another bonding activity, but this is different. They know way more than me about Pokémon from collecting Pokémon cards and researching it online. There is a lot more to Pokémon than I ever want to know, but it’s nice for them to be the experts on something and me to be the student.
We get outside
Pokémon Go gets us out the door and exploring the places we’ve traveled to. You have to walk around to find Pokémon and PokéStops. Sometimes a kid needs motivation beyond the love of walking or sightseeing to get out the door and explore. Looking for a Squritle or Jigglypuff can be that motivation.
Explore new places
Pokémon Go leads us to interesting places. We might not set out to learn something, but the PokéStops and gyms are almost always at landmarks or roadside attractions. The stops and gyms were created using data from a game called Ingress. The portals in Ingress are sights with historical or cultural significance. Other locations were chosen based on geo-tagged photos from Google – places like Dry Falls State Park in Washington. In Florence our favorite wine and potato chip spot was right next to a plaque that we didn’t pay any attention to (there are a lot of plaques in Florence!) until we realized it was a Pokéstop. Then we Googled it and learned a little something.
Meet the locals
In Hvar, Croatia we were playing Pokéman Go in the town square when a group of boys came over and asked if we were trying to take over their gym. Yes, we were. We started talking to them, learned a little about living in a little town on an island in the Adriatic Sea. We even got some good playing tips from them. At the Salzburg Christkindl Market outside Mirabell Gardens, we were sipping glüwien while we waited for our bus. A young couple (he was German, she Canadian) started talking to us and we ended up on Pokémon Go. They pointed us to a Charmander nest in the gardens and filled Henry in on where he could take the kids to see Rogue One in English. We chatted with them for half an hour. Pokémon Go gives us a common topic we can use to strike up conversations with people of all ages.
Exercise mind and body
We walk more. I would walk all the time; I love walking. Anders probably would, too. Having the goal of catching Pokémon gets the boys and I moving even more, because we’ve “got to catch them all!” Plus, we need to walk between 2-10 kilometers to hatch our eggs or get extra candies for specific Pokémon. Walking is good exercise for the body, but it’s also really good for the mind. I’m just thinking about the kids’ health here.
It’s fun to play and the Pokémon are cute (except for those Ratatas – I hate those things). I didn’t expect to like playing as much as I do. Sometimes I even play a little when I am alone. It’s a big scavenger hunt and there are so many Pokémon scattered all over the globe. Whenever we catch a new one, we are so excited. It’s the thrill of the chase and the thrill of the catch.
And if I ever get tired of Pokémon Go, I can always switch to Chardonnay Go. (I’m waiting for the Shiraz update to come out.)