What I Learned Without Technology for 5 Days in a Foreign Country

Heck, I am not entirely sure it has been five days. It has felt like an entire month; Plus I no longer have access to the calendar app to tell me what day it is. Instead I must count backward in my head from the day my flight is. That is tomorrow, which makes today Thursday and it has actually been exactly five days. That is good, because I was a bit worried about lying in the title on this blog would be bad for my reputation. On a side note here I would like to point out that I was very tempted in using the word ‘honor’ instead of reputation. I realize that the word honor went out of style, but is still pretty cool if you ask me. It also may have to do with the long periods of time listening to Game of Thrones on my first generation iPod nano which cannot connect to the internet.

So let’s back up here — exactly five days ago I pulled my phone out of my pocket pushed the little circle button to check the time. I immediately became confused because instead of the time and a nice scenic picture of the woods, I was looking at the lovely neon lines going across the screen.

My jaw dropped — quite literally actually. In fact I could feel the blood rushing from my face and my life flashing before me. There is no life without my phone. It was everything. My one and only way to connect to the internet, my clock, my flashlight, my camera, my emergency mirror, my weather man, my infinite map, and my life line. Although I knew my life certainly was not over and maybe ‘life flashing before me’ was a bit dramatic. This still was a rather large blow to the possible success of my trip. How would I access my e-tickets from my email or know when to arrive at the bus station? How would I document my travels constantly with pictures? How would my Instagram followers know I was alive?

My immediate action was to joke to my friend that my phone was finally destroyed. Oh right, I guess I forgot to mention that this was not in fact a spontaneous combustion as I may have lead you to believe, but rather an end of a long ticking time bomb. About two and a half weeks ago I had dropped my phone causing some rather extensive cracks in the upper left hand corner. Still all in one piece because of my flimsy screen protector (Which did not prevent the cracks in the first place. However, I guess it had protected it quite well after repeated drops for nearly 2 years.). I immediately had a heart attack and freaked out. However, it still worked exactly the same. A day passed, then another, then 2 weeks and I could barely see the cracks anymore because of how acclimatized I was to their presence. Also I guess I should mention that about one and half weeks ago I may have accidentally knocked it off the top bunk of my bunk bed in a hostel in which a small corner of the screen disappeared. At that point I added a piece of electrical tape to elongate it’s life. Which is way classier than duct tape I might add.

This all still leaves me sitting in my hostel kitchen area writing this blog with an ACTUAL pen and ACTUAL paper with exceedingly bad handwriting at this point. Now we need to get the real reason of writing this blog. The main thing is yes, it is actually possible to survive and even perhaps live without any technology with you (other than a previously mentioned but not very useful iPod nano). These are the lessons I have learned through this experience.

First thing first you are more likely to talk to people without a phone. It is just that simple — but I do think this is because of a combination of things that not having a phone helps. Firstly out of necessity. You must talk to people in order to figure out things — like directions, the weather, where the bus stop is. Secondly you are way more approachable. At least I think you probably are, but maybe that is my personal opinion not really based on facts. And lastly gosh dang it you are like 100 times more bored without phone games to occupy your time, so you, if you are anything like me, just want to talk to someone out of boredom.

Lesson number two. Guessing the weather in a foreign country is sometimes hard. So I learned quite quickly to dress in layers because of the many trips back and forth between my room and from the fact that I had to sit freezing even though the sun it out and it ‘looks’ warm.

Lesson three. Sometimes it is even better to just have memories rather than 20 photos of the same thing. Standing on the ferry between the north and south island of New Zealand being able to see both was pretty spectacular, even though I don’t have photographic evidence. Some moments I am glad that other people had cameras and could take photos, but in all reality it is not the end of the world if you don’t have a photo to remember the moment with.

Forth. You do actually read and need the little pamphlets with the maps in them. Not only are the nice to find restaurants and attractions without trip advisor, but you will need the map. For instance when I took a trip up the cable car in Wellington to see the botanical gardens. Naturally when it stopped I got off. I looked around and quickly realized that this is not the gardens. So I turned around and the cable car and the other 95% of it’s passengers are already climbing up the rest of the mountain. I am left in the middle of the mountain with only a small idea of where I was. So suddenly that map I picked up earlier came in very handy. So instead of using my google maps to locate the gardens I had to use an actual real life map — plus walk up about 1000 steps. Not to mention it is a great way to stretch your brain when you have to decipher strange graphics on a poorly constructed not to scale map.

Last lesson. Alright so all of the previous lessons were difficult and important, but the item I was most concerned about in that first moment of tic tac toe board on my phone was losing contact with everyone. Sure I have been gone for 7 months now, but nearly all of those days involved talking to someone back home. Either via text, Facebook, google hangouts, Instagram, Snapchat, or even the ancient technology of email it was quite easy to keep on going conversations with family and friends as needed. So that is why immediately after joking about the death of my phone, my next action was to borrow a friend’s phone to log onto Facebook and tell my mom of the dire situation that was occurring. Surprisingly, she seemed less concerned with just my problem than I was. Or she was really great at seeming calm. I guess we all know that I am perfectly capable of making without my phone or without checking Facebook five times a day. Even if it sometimes doesn’t seem like it. All in all not having contact with people at all times was not so bad. Sure I sometimes felt insecure wandering about New Zealand without my phone, but the sad reality is I felt the same amount of insecurity without my phone as I did with it. These five days I was able to travel back in time to where I did not tell my friends and family everything that was happening when it is happening. You know like when you feel safe in your neighborhood and you just wander around without anyone knowing where you are and before the time when you had the ‘find friends’ app on your phone. In fact, in some ways this makes it more fun to go back home. Now I will actually have stories that they haven’t heard, and I can focus on what is going on around me rather than being in constant contact with people all the way across the country.

My adventure in New Zealand was crazy, gorgeous, breath-taking, inspiring, and I will never forget it. Even though I have next to no photos that I took to show for it. (which is why this post has no photos, sorry!) In the end traveling and adventures are indeed worth it, even if I don’t have any evidence or the convenience of technology to make it easier. So although I will probably not give up on my phone or leave it behind on my adventures in the future, it is nice to know that it is possible to survive without it and still have one of the most amazing trips of my life!

Cheers, Kristin!