One of the biggest obstacles to embracing a slower pace of travel is technology. How can you slow down and enjoy the moment when you are glued to your phone? Our smartphones have reinvented the way that we travel, making it easier to get around and research the places that we visit, but they are also hindering us, preventing us from truly letting go and unwinding.
One of the biggest obstacles to leaving technology behind when we travel is our smartphones. Leaving your laptop and various gadgets behind is much less intimidating than travelling halfway around the world without your phone. We are all too dependent on our phones, using them for everything from scrolling through social media to finding our way around a new place.
Our smartphones are definitely useful, especially in emergencies, when we are lost or when we would like to use electronic boarding passes rather than wasting paper – but it is possible to enjoy your holiday without being glued to your phone. Try restricting your time with your phone while travelling, allowing yourself just a short timeslot each day where you can use it. Allow yourself to spend more time focusing on the present rather than planning for the days ahead or catching up with friends back home.
Set an out of office for both your work and personal emails when travelling, resolving not to check your inbox until you return home. Unless you are travelling for work, there is no need to bring your laptop or to use your phone to check your email. If you can’t bear the notifications tallying up, check your emails once a day and flag the ones that are important to come back to when you return to work.
Carry an actual camera rather than using your phone to take photos, removing the temptation to upload photos to Instagram, send updates to friends or simply start scrolling. If you don’t have a digital camera, consider using a film or disposable for fun holiday snaps that will alleviate the urge to immediately share your photos. If you really want to take photos on your phone, ensure that you put it away after taking the shot and remember to live in the moment.
When navigating your way around a new place, use an actual map and keep your phone tucked away. Rediscover the thrill of navigating, or simply allow yourself to get lost. There’s no better way to stumble upon hidden gems than by wandering around and seeing where your feet take you.
Similarly, don’t look up where to eat and what to see on your phone. Instead, wander around without any plans and allow yourself to be surprised by what you find. Follow the locals, pop into places that look intriguing and discover your own side of your destination, not what travel guides tell you.
Leave your phone behind when you are out and about, relieving yourself of the constant urge to check it. Give yourself more time to connect with your travel companions and with your surroundings, free of the burden of technology. How many times have you found yourself at the beach unable to go for a swim thanks to the fear of someone stealing your bag? If you’re only carrying a towel and a disposable camera, you can leave your bag on the beach and enjoy yourself worry-free.
Photography by Molly Steele
It’s not just your phone, of course. We tend to travel with our bags full of unnecessary gadgets that we don’t need or won’t use. Your accommodation will likely have a hair dryer, kettle and iron – and if it doesn’t, perhaps you should assess whether you really need these things when travelling. If your suitcase isn’t clogged up with various gadgets and chargers, you will have more room for bringing home souvenirs.
If you like to write things down as you travel, whether that is your thoughts or places that you visit for future reference, bring a notebook and pen rather than relying on your laptop or phone. If you’re missing the connection of social media, try journaling every day, writing down whatever comes into your head. You’ll return home with a clear mind and a notebook filled with inspiration and memories.
It really isn’t hard to let go of technology when travelling. Think about how you used to travel in your childhood or even just a decade ago. Our early memories of travelling are of experiences, the people that we travelled with and the places that we travelled to – not of taking the perfect selfie or responding to emails on the beach. Try to rediscover the way that you used to travel, before half your suitcase was taken up with gadgets.
Writer, photographer and dreamer with an endless wanderlust.
Emma Lavelle has lived in the north of England all of her life, taking advantage of her location to explore as much of Europe as possible. Emma is a slow living enthusiast, writing about her quest for a slower life on her blog, Field + Nest, as well as for various online & print publications. She's also a keen photographer and has just started selling prints of her nature photography. Travel is a huge part of her life, although she's learning to slow it down and appreciate the smaller moments.