Vacations are better when you leave your phone behind. There! I said it. But fellow millennials, hear me out, because I'm not a complete dinosaur. I'm certainly not suggesting flying to a different state or country without your phone entirely; I'm simply advocating for locking it in the hotel room safe and going down to dinner or the pool for a few unplugged hours, or at least turning it off and shoving it down into the depths of your purse. When I bring my phone along on vacation outings, I'm less likely to use it for those purposes and more likely to think, "Well, just one peek won't hurt!" and then get lost in hundreds of work emails, which is why I stopped bringing mine along and embraced phone-free travel.
I've discussed this same problem with several friends, all of whom admit that they've missed out on valuable relaxation (or exploration) time by getting sucked into their phones on vacation. And I'm not pretending that I'm somehow "above" social media or tech reliance; I still like to document my vacations, post occasional beach selfies on Instagram, and capture sweet moments with my family and friends. I just don't like doing it in the moment from my phone, which is why I am a huge fan of bringing real cameras on vacation.
I'm not as distracted by trying to frame the perfect Instagram of my poolside setup and am more intent on getting into the pool.
I used to lug my full DSLR camera, which takes stunning shots but proved to be a burden. Then, I went old school with an Instax Mini film camera but often found myself taking photos of the cute printed snaps because I wished they were shareable on social media. Since then, my hunt has ended after the Polaroid SnapTouch ($180) landed on my desk, because it gives me the sharability, simple editing tools, and pocket size of my cell phone's camera along with the instant printing abilities of my Instax. For now, at least, I'm done testing out cameras and ready to hit the road for Summer trips without a phone in hand.
But whatever camera works for you — or even no camera at all — I would highly recommend ditching that phone whenever you can. Sure, you might feel naked for a short while, but it forces you to fully experience your time away from home. When you're not glancing down at your iPhone for Yelp reviews or Facebook notifications, you're more likely to witness the small quirks of a new city or spot a dolphin out on the horizon.
In my experience, the feeling quickly fades from nakedness to liberation; putting away the phone takes my vacations that extra mile and connects me more deeply to the place I'm visiting. I'm not as distracted by trying to frame the perfect Instagram of my poolside setup and am more intent on getting into the pool. It's good practice in moderation for a modern world; and what better time to test your own technological reliance than while on a much-deserved break?