So, I decided to try something outlandish: an unplugged road trip! It was time to peruse the world without smart technology: no Trip Advisor to find the next hotel, no Yelp to dig up the dirt on a restaurant, and no Siri or Alexa or even a nameless Google voice telling me when to turn left or right. It’s just me, my girlfriend, some luggage, and a lot of attitude. We’re snapping our fingers!
For sixteen days, we lived on the road, detached from social media and smartphones, while navigating several states and one foreign country. We created rules, and allowed ourselves a little license:
• We used technology to locate and book a few destinations prior to departure to give our trip a basic shape, but we relied on paper maps and the whims of the road to fill our days and nights.
• I checked business emails once per morning for my pending radio show interviews.
• Kristy used her Nikon camera for the majority of photos, and I used my phone as a camera for a select few (but did not post photos until we retuned). We texted our moms every few days to let them know we were alive. In my case, it was obligatory. Little Italian mothers specialize in guilt trips if you leave them alone too long and may even send out search parties.
Our goal was to be at least 95% unplugged; and, for most of those sixteen days, we were completely old-school. We would sit and be idle, and that was okay. We even talked to each other like stagecoach days. Sometimes we would read or write.
I wrote every day on our journey, documenting my attempts to regress (or is it progress?). In the end, I had written this book. Oh, I must mention that since this was also our end-of-season vacation, we fully celebrated happy hour most days.
Keeping Serendipity Alive
Paper Maps, No Apps: An Unplugged Travel Adventure was integral to the project from the start. I hoped documenting our journey would help my readers find a balance in this faster than light and brave new world.
I wanted to record the journey in a lighthearted way and show we can still have fun without technology and make fun of our own habits. I’ll be the first to admit it takes a conscious effort on my part not to be manipulated by the temptation in my hand. This book will serve as my constant reminder to be present. It’s my own to-do list. High on the list are:
• Stay balanced. I hope to be personally vigilant about balancing my time in the natural interpersonal world with my time connecting through technology. I am not preaching total abstinence. Technology breaks may mean something different to each of us, but balance is the essence of an enriched life.
• Read. My attention span for reading print and e-books keeps shortening; but I know that the more I read, the more I’ll get my reading brain back. Since it is almost inevitable to get caught up in the maelstrom of distraction technology, there is a pressing need to counter this power. The act of reading a physical book quiets and calms us and allows us to become part of the story in a way no quick pop-up headline can. I do like e-books and digital readers, but the experience of a physical book incorporates the sense of touch and smell. Have you ever picked up a new book and sniffed the pages while flipping through?
• Meditate. Another practice to counter-balance constant distraction and disruption is meditation. In my opinion, it will top the list in years to come. In terms of quieting the mind and experiencing many physical benefits, too, it is second to none. Through meditation, you can achieve focus, which is the polar opposite of distraction.
Enough of the Technological Zombie Talk!
I hope you’ll find some great ideas in these pages; but, most of all, I hope you’ll laugh with me at ourselves and our world. I find it hilarious there is even a need for a cleanse like this in the first place, but enough of the scary technology zombie apocalypse talk. Are you ready to have some fun? Sit back, turn these pages, and join us on our simple journey. Here’s what life can look like without smart devices.
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