What was I most excited about for my first solo trip? Pure simplicity. For me, simplicity meant that for two weeks I would travel with no laptop, no smartphone, and just a backpack with the essentials. Just thinking about it made me relax instantly and I couldn’t wait for my trip to start.
I’m on a computer all day at work and it doesn’t stop when I get home. I’m in grad school and take classes online so I have to use my computer after work too. I love my Droid but I have the unfortunate habit of checking my phone every few minutes for messages, tweets, and emails. These devices are fine and good because they keep me connected to a career and passion that I love but at some point my head will explode if I don’t take a break from them.
So I decided to stop everything while I traveled through Stockholm and Copenhagen and only pack the essentials. While I brought a standard voice/text only cell phone for emergencies, instead of a laptop I had my Moleskine journal and instead of a smartphone I had a copy of Lonely Planet’s The Kindness of Strangers (Loved!). I only packed a few pieces of clothing into a tiny backpack so I wouldn’t have to think about extraneous items and just put on a t-shirt and jeans and step out the door.
Eliminating the distractions was a challenge but I’m glad I did it because it gave me the chance to really be alone and take a time out for myself. I sat at a cafe every morning eating pastries, sipping coffee, and watching the scene around me. I took long walks along lakes, over canals, around islands and through parks and if I felt like sitting down for a half hour I did that.
Without distractions I learned that I don’t always need to be doing something or accumulating things and that I can and should be still. It’s a perspective I am grateful for as a never ending to-do list was bogging me down at home and prevented me from enjoying the view in front of me. Now back in the Bay Area I am slowing down. Yes, I am back at my laptop and always have my Droid with me but I am only taking on what I can handle knowing that it is not the end of the world if I can’t do everything I want. I am writing this on a Sunday afternoon in bed because this is all I want to do today and I can see myself taking time out for more simplicity just like this in the near and distant future.
Thinking about traveling simple? Here are some persuasion and tips:
The value of unplugging and an iPhone-less life on CestChristine.com
The art of unplugging for a trip on Vagablogging.net