Leave It At Home (Why I Don’t Travel With My Phone)

by | Apr 4, 2013 | Reflections, Travel Tips | 4 comments

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your
bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
— Kahlil Gibran

My generation has become accustomed to being constantly connected to technology. Cell phones, apps, iPod, iPhones, iEverything. This world is becoming an iWorld. Constantly connected to the rest of civilization. Everybody’s thoughts and relationship statuses at the tip of our fingers. We see our lives through the screens of our cell phones and we have immediate distraction right there in front of us whenever we are bored. We’ve become unaccustomed to being alone, to being present in our own minds and to those around us. When was the last time you went to dinner and didn’t see at least one person texting or playing a game on their phone rather than listening to their friend in front of them? Or, worse yet, when two people out for dinner aren’t even talking to each other and have their eyes glued to their phone instead.

Back when I was fifteen, I used to hate being alone. I felt embarrassed to walk past a group of people, alone, so I would pretend to be talking to someone on my cell phone so that I didn’t look so strange. I realize how bizarre that sounds but I promise that I am not the only one who’s done that. Now, at 21, I crave the time I spend alone and away from other people. Constant connection is overwhelming and exhausting and sometimes I really do need to be alone. Being alone and being lonely are two different things. I am comfortable being alone.

At home, during my regular day-to-day life, I’m like everyone else. My cell phone is always in arms reach. Every person I know is able to contact me within seconds and get an almost immediate response. I spend my university classes playing phone apps like Candy Crush and take photos of my lunch. I have mastered the art of walking down the street; my eyes glued to my phone as I text and my ears stuffed with headphones, without bumping into anybody. As much as technology is meant to connect us to everyone, everything, and all information, I feel completely disconnected from the world around me. I miss the passing smiles of strangers and the random conversations on buses and trains.

A lot of people travel with their phones and I understand why. I’m actually surprised that I’m not one of them. There are tons of good reasons to do it, from keeping in contact to friends and family to using all the awesome travel apps. I secretly sometimes wish I could use some of those travel apps, but my travel lifestyle without my phone is more important to me. But so far, I have never brought my phone with me. It waits for me, turned off, in a drawer by my bed until I return. So why not travel with my phone?

Part of the reason that I travel is to take a break from “normal” life, hopefully for longer than a few weeks. When I am not in constant contact with hearing about the minor things that stress people out at home, the small town drama, I feel happier. Traveling with my phone gives me a new level of freedom that I cannot pass up. Even though I can’t go a day without my phone at home, I never miss it when I’m traveling. The only connection to home that I need is the occasional call to my parents and my netbook.

I love the freedom that travel brings. I love the re-connection it gives me to the world, to nature, to the people I meet and the cultures that I learn about. When I travel, all of my senses are heightened. I hear and see everything. Smells are twice as strong. The only piece of technology that I have between me and the world is a camera, to capture the moments for eternity. If I bring my phone with me, I know that my travel experiences would be cut in half. I would slip back into the comfort of disconnecting myself from the small pleasantries and little moments that bring me happiness that I miss when I’m not looking.

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