We can all agree that our phones can sometimes get the best of us. Use these seven ideas to spend a day exploring without your phone or social media!
I think we can all admit (myself included) that sometimes we let our phones get the best of us. Even when I’m traveling, seeing and doing things I may never see or do again, I end up on my phone! Why do I do this?! It’s like ingrained in my brain to check Facebook and Instagram every 30 minutes and I wish that it wasn’t. Especially when traveling.
Soooooo, I started thinking of ways to get my head out of my phone. Ideas for busting out my creative side and learning how to survive without needing to connect to the digital world. No phones, no GPS, no photos, no social media.
And no, I’m not advocating leaving your phone home for the entire duration of your trip. But think about going device-free for at least ONE day of your travels. It’s certainly a challenge, but one that will foster exploration, creativity, well-being, and new experiences! Use this list as inspiration or come up with your own unique ideas for traveling without your phone! Let’s get right to it.
1. Follow a good ol’ fashioned map
Ditch Google Maps and use one of those artifacts called a paper map for the day. Any hotel or hostel should have them, and I’d be willing to bet they have a whole lot of them. Using a physical map requires you to be extremely aware of your surroundings. Which is something we take for granted when our phones guide us exactly where we need to go! Also, when you can’t use your phone to look up what to do, you might (and probably will) find some really under-the-radar, cool spots to visit. I guarantee using a map will allow you to do things you would have never found otherwise!
2. Bring out your inner artist
Most of us aren’t natural artists or skilled painters or anything. But you don’t have to be “skilled” to draw, or paint, or express what you’re seeing and feeling, on paper. Pick a place (maybe a museum, park, or famous building) and challenge yourself to replicate it on paper, canvas, napkin, or whatever is accessible to you. Even if you don’t have a piece of art, you’ll be surprised by the vivid memories you have when you look back on your work years later.
3. Journal your day (yes, with pen and paper)
I’m a big fan of writing down memories from trips. I mean, I have a blog after all. But I’ve become so accustomed to pulling out the “Notes” app on my phone to write these memories down. Buy a cute, maybe even cheesy journal from a local souvenir shop and fill it up. A physical journal is such an amazing keepsake from a trip that you can’t really appreciate until you have one to look back on. My grandma gave me a journal to write about my trip to Cancun when I was 12, and reading it now is like stepping in to a time machine. Not only are there so many details I’d never remember otherwise, but being able to read what my writing “voice” was from over 10 years ago is just so cool. I was just a baby!
4. Ask a local for a restaurant recommendation
I’ll admit that I love Yelp. Over this past year I become kind of obsessed with it and I’m also kind of obsessed with my “Yelp Elite” status. Yeaaaaah, I’m kind of a big deal. But ANYWAY. Forget Yelp for this day. I know it’s kinda weird to imagine, but people used to eat at restaurants without extensively researching reviews online. I know, it’s hard to fathom. So for nostalgia’s sake, ask somebody in person for a recommendation. Get a real person’s opinion! It’s not even really about the food; it’s about the interaction and the thrill of doing something DIFFERENT. But, of course the food will be delicious! The locals know the local cuisine better than anybody, and they can likely lead you to some real hidden gems, too.
5. Practice the local language
Everybody should learn at least a few basic words (yes, no, please, thank you) in the local language before traveling. If you’re already a little bit seasoned, grab a newspaper or magazine and see how much you can understand. And find something with pictures, too – it’s easier than you think to use context clues to help you understand more than you thought you knew! If you know next to nothing in the language, find a language book or guide and get a few basics down. Or use Duolingo, which is one of my absolute favorite (FREE) language-learning apps. It’ll be exciting when you start to recognize a few basic words all around you as you continue traveling!
6. Enjoy street music without feeling the need to record it
Street musicians are one of my favorite things about traveling. It makes you realize how much talent exists all over the world, and talent in such a humble environment too! This goes for pretty much anything, but when you’re recording through your phone, how much are you really absorbing in real life? And be honest – are you really ever going to look back at it? I’ll admit that I have certain recordings I love to look back at. But that doesn’t mean I should feel the need to document every single second or a whole entire song. It’s so liberating to just listen, and watch, and show these musicians that you’re actually interested in what they’re playing and that you’re loving it.
7. Grab a seat on a sidewalk cafe and people-watch
I know that you have a laundry list of things to see and do on your trip (which is not a bad thing), but make sure you incorporate some “chill” time too! A seat at a sidewalk cafe with good coffee (or a good beer) and good conversation will do you good. Without your phone to distract you, you’ll have plenty of time to reflect on what you’ve already done, plan your next moves, and soak up the sights and sounds around you.