So this might sound a bit odd coming from a technology writer, but what if you consider leaving your technology out of the equation when you go camping? I could barrage you with “the best fly fishing apps” or “five gadgets that repel bears,” but let’s consider the alternative for a second (although the bear repellents sound useful).
The communications technology market these days abounds with devices, applications, platforms, and other features that enhance the user experience while outdoors, yet sometimes one simply wants to be, well, outdoors. And, after all, iPhones weren’t exactly made for bungee jumping.
Bringing a bunch of gadgets on a canoeing trip and expecting them to work is just flat out unrealistic. Even if you’re simply at the beach they can get overheated and malfunction. Yes, I’ve used my iPhone while in the White Mountains. Yes, I’ve been able to post pictures on Facebook (News - Alert) from the tops of 4k-footers. But that doesn’t mean that we should expect that our technology-driven lives will follow us wherever we go, though we often do. So in order to take a vacation that includes a break from your online life, at least consider step one:
1) Go somewhere rugged. And, no, I do not mean The Hamptons. Go somewhere where you have no choice but to be outside. Perhaps a location with no Wi-Fi or 3G connection. (Gasp.) After about 24 hours (and I speak from having experienced technology-withdrawal) you will actually want to be outside. You won’t desire to check your phone – an impossible notion, I know. One step at a time.
2) Tell others you won’t be online. As shameful as you might feel having to admit to coworkers and friends that you won’t be able to answer every email or retweet them for a couple of days, do it anyway. It’s like pulling a tooth. Just get it over with. They’ll forgive you if they’re real friends. Your mom might worry that you haven’t tweeted in a couple days, but if she knows about it beforehand you’ll reap the benefits. Not only will you receive fewer emails, calls, and texts, but you won’t feel the pressure to respond to any that you do get.
3) Surround yourself with others who are doing the same. Camping is going to be NO fun if you are the only one without a device that connects you to the rest of the world, or with a dead one. How lame is the image of five people sitting around a campfire all playing Words With Friends? Play Words With Real Friends. You’re staring at a fire for Pete’s sake. Get a marshmallow and play Apples to Apples.
Communications technology is meant to make the human connection more visible, more instant, and more accurate. There is no better way to achieve all three than to sit by a river, next to a friend, and say “I want a s’more.” Because, let’s face it: We always want s’mores.