Life Stories Minimalism

Disconnect to Reconnect

upstate-newyork

Not having a cell phone for 24 hours creates a serious case of phantom pain. My phone is just as important as another limb, and if I don’t have it, it hurts. Like, what do you mean I can’t Google what an Air Stream is? Is that like streaming? No, ok : [ .

the-woods

Being connected and breathing are now synonymous; a few minutes without it and we feel like we’ll turn purple, keel over and die. First question in any lodging or leisure situation is: “What’s the wifi password?” “Oh, no wifi? Not going to that coffee shop, #sorrynotsorry.” In the last five years, it seems like babies come flying out of the womb with iPads in hand.

But have we thought about how we’d enjoy each moment without a hashtag?

With such a serious addiction to being online, we’ve lost the most basic thing that keeps human hearts filled with warm fuzzies; face-to-face interaction. Instead of savoring every moment as they happen, we’re constantly trying to be in a million other virtual places.

As a travel blogger and vlogger, internet is the blood that pumps through my veins; I need it to make ends meet. But on the complete other hand is the irony that as a traveler, I want to soak in those unique moments that move me, but instead of letting them marinate for at least ten seconds, I have to think of them as pockets of content to feed an audience, and quickly before my connection breaks. The whole process takes away from actually digesting each moment, but the sacrifice is totally optional, and I think we’ve all opted in to the social media web of endless posts. Every breathtaking visual turns into an Instagram, Snapchat, and maybe even Periscope, which transforms a breathtaking moment into a stressful huff of “what caption will really get the most traction?” Beyond the visuals, every funny encounter gets quickly translated into 140 characters or less for a tweet.

Bottom line is that when you’re whole image is revolved around being a travel expert, and an entertainer, you feel pressured to create authentic and engaging posts about your trips to keep that brand breathing. Which is why for us, travel content creators, traveling without a phone, wifi, and even a camera is absolutely unheard of. That’s like buying a pool and not filling it with water, like making food and not eating it, or better yet, saving your whole life for a plane ticket and purposely missing your flight; just out of the question. That is, until #onedayoffline became a thing.

upstate-newyork

barn

We were invited to partake in a campaign created by Cathay Pacific and Mashable called #onedayoffline where travel influencers would be sent to Upstate New York, to stay in a rustic barn that looked like it was out of a Pottery Barn catalog. The weekend would be filled with apple picking, horse feeding, and connecting, not through social networks, but actually connecting, all to promote this idea that we should all unplug to travel well. I’m about it.

I was in, but my mind and body took time to adjust. This is what it felt like in the 24 hours of not having my phone:

12:04AM – Bedtime

Just shut off my phone, this is refreshing. I totally got this, I can do this. I’m in the middle of the woods in a camper van, Damon’s asleep, I’m livin’ the dream. I’ll just go to sleep and wake up and start the day without my phone. Oh man, it’s so quiet. Is the earth really this still at night without sirens and people yelling? I better chill out before the wind gets strong again. I might go insane, no, jk, I’m totally fine.

7:00AM – Wakeup

jo-1

So wait, I just get out of bed without checking emails? I kind of feel like I’m cheating because I had to turn my alarm off. Let me go wash the grog away before the day starts.

8:00AM – Yoga

I wonder if anyone will notice I have a hole in these pants. I’m sure they’d make fun of me and tweet about it if we had phones. Or I’d tweet about how rickety my body is after one downward facing dog. People are really good at yoga, did I miss out on flex-class? Let me meditate. *Blankness. Breathing. More blankness. Feeling of gratitude, look out into nature* Wow, that’s an amazing view of the green.

9:00AM – Breakfast

Got back from the buffet table and remembered a few peoples names, sweet, haven’t totally failed yet! Dang, this is a long awkward pause in a table of like 10 people. Who’s gonna break it?! Guilty. *Had some good laughs with other travel bloggers and vloggers mostly about things that happened back when we still had our phones and then silence struck again* Being glued to your phone for easily over 15 years and then suddenly not having it makes you realize 1. your neck hurts from constantly looking down 2. you’re really bad at remembering names without a contact list and 3. if you’re not gripping a phone, you don’t know what to do with your hands.

10:00AM – Playing

After breakfast we all ran outside to the barn’s back porch and played with bubbles, swords, and enjoyed being completely goofy in a crowd of strangers. No one could snapchat about it, so you felt liberated.

12:00PM – Apple Picking
mashable_078

apples

Happiness now swarmed the ambiance. We piled into a yellow school bus to drive a few minutes down the street to visit an apple farm, must’ve been the bus because at this point 20 or so grown adults were completely and shamelessly letting out their inner children. It was a beautiful thing. Buckets in hand, we picked apples on apples on apples, and frolicked through the orchard in search of the shiniest of them all. I even ate one, despite not liking apples, and I have to say, the no preservatives thing is definitely the way to go. I loved the freshness of not only the apple, but of being exactly where I was with exactly who I was with.

2:00PM – Lunch
picnic

picnic-1

Chicken sandwich, quinoa chips, and rum cider, yes please. This will be the perfect place for a checkered picnic blanket. It honestly can’t get better than this.

4:00PM – Scooping Poop

tractor

shoveling-poop

There was a pause where we all had to pick activities: hiking, fishing, or watching the horses which may or may not have included shoveling poop. Nothing like getting your cowgirl boots on and shoveling some poop for the soul.

6:00PM – Power Nap

Oooohhh, we’re bad, went into the trailer without even thinking twice about taking a cat nap. It was one of those naps where you don’t even know where you are when you wake up, and you’re not scared because you’re just being for a hot second.

7:00PM – Dinner

dinner

barn-1

You think red plaid is a little much for square dancing, it’s so predictable no? Who cares, I’m going big tonight. I didn’t know if I was more engaged in the conversation with John, the crew member from CT, or my mix of brisket and chicken, but I was fully engaged. My ears were consuming the live band’s bluegrass music, my taste buds were swallowing all types of flavors, and my heart was literally filled with laughter from inside jokes about the day that we were all exchanging across the table. I had found a family in a group of strangers in less than 12 hours.

8:00PM – Square Dancing

square-dancing-1

square-dancing

Who cares that I look like a big goofy dork, I’m so happy prancing around and feeling confident in my do-si-do. That’s right, I nailed that choreo, mission accomplished. Time for more food and to enjoy people watching the other adorable goobers that were so filled with just that moment.

10:00PM – Bonfire

apple28

apple29

I’m sad the day’s almost over, why can’t every day be this perfect? These people are the cream of the crop and I’m so glad I met them. Truly don’t want to turn my phone on. I’m appreciating the smell of burnt wood, S’mores, and the red fiery glow on my newfound friends’ faces.

11:00PM – Retreat

A day full of activity makes you tired in a different way. Not that “my eyes hurt because I’ve been staring at a screen all day” tired, but the kind of tired that feels fulfilled. For once, my day wasn’t governed by how many likes a photo got, how many views a video received, it was measured by my particular happiness in each moment because of the people and my environment. Yes, cheesy, but true.

12:01AM – Back Online

I’ve never felt dirtier. Seriously, I don’t want to turn this thing on. Can I filter out just the notifications to just see those from my family and friends? I’m not ready for the overwhelming stress of the “online” world. It’s so much all the time and being disconnected is so much better. But ok, who am I kidding, I live for Pandora music and googling random facts. I just need to check myself.

12:08AM – Over It

This is so overrated, I’m going to bed; happy about not needing to scroll, swipe, or tap on anything to feel full.

The next morning felt exactly like the day I ate meat after being vegetarian for six months; terrible and a little guilty. Because the day without connectivity was such a dream come true (filled with bubbles, foam swords, and S’mores), my body and mind wasn’t ready for the thump of clunky iPhones at the breakfast table. But on the other hand, it did feel nice to connect on social media with the people who I now actually consider my friends. Being online is a double edged sword, we knew this already.

The beauty in living 24 hours without technology is that it awakens so many other senses and thoughts that are easily pushed out of the picture while we’re caught up combing through the interwebs. In order to travel well, we should appreciate disconnected moments. It’s those moments that are unshareable that hold even more value.

hudson-valley

Give yourself an opportunity to disconnect, so you can reconnect with your environment, yourself, and those around you, you’ll be exctatic you did.

Check out the campaign at www.onedayoffline.com and see if you’re up for the challenge. Also, shout out to Cathay Pacific for giving travel creators a weekend of sanity, and Mashable for helping make it all happen.

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  • Audrey Hickey

    Love this post! Looks like a great retreat. I’ve been trying to go internet free on Sundays. It does wonders for my mental health and relaxation but it can be tempting just to search for one little thing. Good luck disconnecting!

  • GoatsOnTheRoad

    Fabulous article girl! That was such a magical weekend, and I love how you brought it to life in this post. ..take me back to Germantown 🙂 xo

    • You guys are the bestttt! Thanks for reading and commenting, can’t wait to be reunited again!

  • Caio Gorki

    #casacomigoJo!

  • Karina C.

    Maybe it’s too hardcore but what I did a few years ago was delete all my social media, since then I’ve been avoiding it like a plague. It does wonders to your mental health and social awareness. I always felt like I could never accomplish anything with those things holding me down, but that was me… many people can be successful and control the addiction at same time.

    • I want to go hardcore like that for an entire year! I’ve gone months before, and I felt like I lost weight or something because life was so much lighter!

  • Taylorann Smith

    Much needed read…

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