Why Losing My Phone Made My Travels So Much Better

September 27, 2015
spain, spain inspiration
Why Losing My Phone Made My Travels So Much Better

The absolute worst has happened. The unimaginable. My phone was stolen in Barcelona. How could this happen? Then again, I am probably the hundredth person you’ve heard this from. It’s nothing new.

Barcelona is an amazing, beautiful and crazy city, but pickpockets have a booming business there and everyone knows it. The warnings came from all over.  Yet, that didn’t stop me from being careless and getting too comfortable while enjoying the Spanish wine. My momentary lapse in judgment resulted in a lost iPhone 6 (with a brand new $100 LifeProof case on it!).

But, guess what? After losing my phone, I had two of the most difficult, albeit rewarding, weeks I have had while traveling through Europe. I was able to travel alone, a million miles away from home and finally feel completely disconnected. I was so far from my world back in California, completely offline. But I wasn’t really stranded–which was the lesson I needed to learn.

Should you ever find yourself without a phone on your travels–intentionally or unintentionally–here’s how you can make the most of your experiences:

Take a mental picture

What kind of trip will it be without pictures?  You may feel like all is lost. If there aren’t pictures, it didn’t happen, right? No! This thought process is the unfortunate view society has adopted thanks to Instagram, Facebook, etc., which is driving us to think silly thoughts like: “How many likes will this picture get?”

What if you no longer even had that shameful thought and just looked at the scenery completely with your own eyes? What might you see and appreciate on a deeper level? Personally, I noticed how much I did not need a “perfect shot” on my camera. Instead, I just wanted to keep seeing more–from different angles and with different lighting–with my own two eyes.

Use your internal compass

Without “Google Maps” at my fingertips, I was forced to use an actual physical map. I asked for directions, which forced me to use more of the local dialect. I learned how to get more acquainted with the surrounding details throughout the city so that I had more points of reference. Within a day, I was using the metro system and getting around the city easily. Suddenly I was relying on my own “internal compass,” as well as common sense. You will be surprised to discovered just how much you really don’t need the reassuring moving dot on your phone’s map application.

Check out instead of checking in

Without social media on my travels, I was able to “check out” and be disconnected more than ever. What an amazing feeling it is to be completely free, anonymous and disconnected from all of the noise sometimes! I stopped “checking in” on Facebook and started fully checking out my surroundings.  The new places I discovered without the help of my phone (and other people’s suggestions online) were some of my favorites during my time abroad.

Write with an actual pen

No iPhone meant no “Notes” application to journal on the go. Nope, I was back to carrying around my physical journal–old and tattered as it is. I noticed that hand writing my experiences and ideas felt more pure and personal, and therefore more therapeutic than a quick type into my phone. My musings were organic and I felt myself becoming more creative.

Call me old school, but I love writing in an actual journal (and reading physical books).
Call me old school, but I love writing in an actual journal (and reading real-life books).

Be present

Through disconnecting from my phone (and the internet), I reconnected with my surroundings in a purely present way.  I gained my own attention back. I didn’t realize how much my phone was shaping my travels and how much of my focus I was really giving it. You know what they say, “You never know what you have until you lose it.” Well this concept worked in reverse for me here. We do not know how much of ourselves we lose to our phones until we experience a “digital detox.”

While I do not recommend roaming the streets of Barcelona carelessly, setting your phone down places and getting it stolen (like me), I do recommend you take a break from your phone while you travel.  Without the distractions that come from your phone, you will uncover more about the place you are visiting, and more about yourself.

To travel is to disconnect from home and to see a new part of the world. Separating from your phone will only enhance this experience for you.  We can all use a little “digital detox” at times, and what better place and time to do so than in a new country.  The world is yours–be sure you really see it with your own two eyes.  But, it’s definitely better to do it on your own accord.

Top photo credit: Fèlix González

About Heather Ditmars

Heather DitmarsHeather is a former Cosmetics Executive from California who pursued the “American dream” her whole life, gaining pretty things and poor materialistic priorities- while working far too many hours and putting off her desire to see the world.  By the end of Summer 2015, Heather quit her job, sold everything, packed up what she could fit in her parents attic and booked a one way flight to Europe.  She is currently contributing writing for travel websites, running her own Blog “Wander World by HD,” and women’s travel group, “Wander Women.”  She has traveled throughout five countries so far and will continue on to Eastern Europe, India, South East Asia and Australia throughout the next two years.

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