Excerpt from Real Life, Public Service Message, Traveling

I’m Away From My Phone right now

“I’m Away From My Phone right now.” I wonder if anyone says this anymore.

Can anyone say this anymore?

Or, has the question become–can our phones ever get away from us?

Our phones are a constant contact mechanism and a global library in our pockets. I can’t argue they might be the most convenient thing ever created. Prior to this Fall, I thought I wasn’t as addicted as other people who always seem to have a phone on their ear. On my phone, I use the camera (visual notes for blogposts, typos on signs, foodgeek stuff) and the web the most.

But then we took a trip out of the country.

We switched off our data to save on international fees and only used internet on the hotel wi-fi in the evenings. It didn’t take long to notice how cut off I felt from the information universe and how little I’d strategized “getting around without the phone”:

  • I should have brought an Atlas so it was easier to navigate during the day.
  • I should have checked in a hotel in advance that was relatively safe, with walkable eateries and stuff to see nearby.
  • I should have researched big events happening in our destination during the dates we were there. When we arrived, many hotels were booked. We declined the honeymoon suite at the Best Western** and fortunately found something more reasonable. The trip was a success and a joyful event, we did what we came to do. But I learned a lot about what I would do differently if we make an international trip again. [Which, I hope so.]

Procrastinating and then expecting the instant gratification of a multi-talented phone is a bad default for a travel game plan. Anyone stuck with a dead battery and no charger***, or stuck in a no-fi community would also be in this situation, or one like it.

So is it dumb to be overly attached to a smartphone? Probably yes–but let me Google that to make sure… (wink)

*=once we found a hotel, I used my computer and hotel wi-fi to look up places we had to be the next day. I copy + pasted the directions into an email to myself and hit send. Then on my phone, I pulled up that email and copy+pasted the directions into my phone’s desktop Notepad, with the title of “Directions to X”, and “Directions to Y”. I thought I’d pass it on just in case any readers are traveling and could use it.

**=no offense BW, but ?! Some hotels should have a honeymoon suite, especially in a wedding city, but here? Suburbs of a college town in surrounded by farms on either side?

***=if you have no charger or lost your charger, and you’re in the US, try to find a Walgreens. They have Tech&Go chargers and adapters in about six colors.

FOLLOWUP: A nomophobe is someone who fears loss of their phone. For more information on mobile devices impact on our bodies, well-being, and well, everything, see this story at Computer World.