One of the biggest questions tour-goers ask before they go on a trip is, “What will I do about my phone?!” Nowadays, it’s super easy to figure that out when you get somewhere, as sim cards are pretty affordable and Wi-Fi is just a cafe away. But, people are still dependent on their phones, even when they’re theoretically ‘away’ from civilization.
While I’m all for people having access to their phones while travel, here’s why when I traveled without my phone, it was the best decision I ever made. And, here’s why it’s a good option for when you go on tour, too.
1) One Less Thing to Be Worried About
Let’s be honest. Phones are expensive. Even if you’re the kind of person that doesn’t really care about getting the next model as soon as it comes out, you still wouldn’t be too thrilled if you lost your phone. My phone got stolen when I was in Paris. And, though I didn’t let it ruin my trip, I was still pretty bummed. If you don’t bring your phone with you while you’re on a tour, you’ll just have one less thing to worry about.
2) Your Attention is Elsewhere
We spend a lot of time looking at our phones, even when we try not to. Whether it’s scrolling through our photos, checking out our news feed, or Googling something, all those minutes we spend looking at the screen adds up throughout the day. Trust me. I don’t even Instagram or Snapchat, and I still find myself looking at nonsense. When you don’t have your phone, you get distracted by the world around you. And, that my friends, is way better than anything a screen will show you.
3) Learn How to Communicate in Other Ways
Okay, we’re not saying you need to be totally without a phone. Obviously, in today’s times, being able to make a call, text, or even use Google Maps, helps make travel less frustrating. That being said, being able to find our way around a city or get in touch with that person we met at the hostel, is that much more worth it when we don’t have a phone to get us by. I’ve actually used city maps, like when I was in Hanoi, Vietnam, to get from one place to another. And, when we met someone at our hotel, we decided to meet up via time a place, as opposed to calling one another. It may be a little old-fashioned, but it’s fun and an important skill to ‘navigate.’
4) Time Really Isn’t Important
A lot of us, even if we don’t use our phones a lot, still generally use it to tell the time or see what day it is. I can’t tell you how much I love not knowing this information when I travel. (Unless, of course, I have a flight to catch.) Most of the time, we are running on a clock. We know what time we wake up, what time we finish work, and how many days are left until the weekend. When you don’t have something to check every few seconds, time lasts so much longer. And, when we travel, we want to extend that time as much as we possibly can.
Yes, we need our phone for some things. It’s nice to look up a place we want to go to or load up our boarding pass. We need to be able to set an alarm if we’re staying in a hostel. And, we want to be able to take pictures.
But, even if you have a smartphone, you don’t NEED data. Most phones can do all these things without it. For example, you can download the map you need from Google Maps, or take a screenshot of the train schedule when you do have a connection. You can also back up all your photos on a sim card, or make sure you have them connected to the cloud so they back up any time you have a Wi-Fi connection.
Can having a phone enhance your travel experience? Certainly. But, it can also take away from it if you’re using it too much. If you take a phone with you on your tour, make sure you have a healthy balance for it. And, try to leave it back in the hotel as often as you can.
Hana LaRock is originally from New York, though has called other places around the world her home for the last two years. She currently lives in Mexico and freelance travel writer. When she’s not working, she enjoys writing, reading, spending time with her dog, and of course, traveling. You can find her at www.hanalarockwriting.com.