What I Learned from 2 Weeks without Data

When I arrived in Italy for what would be an epic 2 week honeymoon, I had a plan in mind to make sure I would not be without a cell phone and data connection. My wife got me a Nexus 5X last Christmas so I decided to sign up for Google’s Project Fi for international cell service. It’s much cheaper than ATT and I’d get to spend some quality time with Android after being away for about a year. However, when we arrived in Venice I noticed I was connecting to cell towers, but I wasn’t able to text or get online. I thought maybe Venice was spotty but as we moved down country, I still had no luck. I was relegated to calls anywhere, but text and data only on WiFi, which was basically at the hotel. Here’s how that went.

Now I’m no stranger to time away from the screen, but I was hoping to have a connection so we could send photos, post on social media, and use Google Maps if we got lost (which we did, regularly). Instead, I’d take photos and post them later, write down what I was thinking or would want to post (I always have a Field Notes book on me), and use a real map. I think my Father-in-Law would be happy to know that I (as well as Erin) was able to successfully navigate each city using the map provided to us by the hotel.

Overcoming Not Knowing

The first day without internet was the worst. I was jetlagged and disconnected in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the native language. I got just a touch homesick. But after some sleep and taking time to familiarize myself with the country, and a couple of hours in each city, things got a lot better.

Being without data allowed us to really get to know each city Click To Tweet

Once we were settled in, neither of us were checking our phones, worrying about what we were missing, constantly posting to Facebook, or killing valuable time by staring at a screen. We talked, made jokes, observed a lot more, and really got to cherish the “just us” time we had as a newly married couple. You know…honeymoon stuff. We did still take selfies, even though we both kinda hate them.

We got to do what you should on your honeymoon: enjoy your time together Click To Tweet

Taking it all in

When did have an internet connection, usually just at the hotel, we’d go on while the other freshened up, contact home base, post what we each wanted to post, and be done. It was a nice departure from the norm. After all, we were traveling through this deeply historic country; we got to take all of it in. I think what really drove the point home for us was something we observed while on a walking tour of Rome.

We were traveling through a deeply historic country and really taking everything in. Click To Tweet

We were walking through Palatine Hill, the tallest of the 7 hills Rome is built on and the storied birthplace of the ancient city. Our tour guide was telling us a bit about it through a headset while we walked around the area. Erin and I were enamored. After all, we love American history, and that’s 250 years old. Imagine seeing ruins from a city 3000 years old! We were at the center of history; one of the biggest and oldest Republics, among ruins older than any of us could image. As we took it all in, we noticed a group of girls who had taken off their headsets, and were discussing their selfie strategy. We were amazing by the deep history of the place in which we were standing, and these girls were more concerned with how they looked on Instagram (or even worse, Snapchat).

Having no data during the days was the best accident to happen to us on our honeymoon. I purposefully didn’t bring my laptop to eliminate that distraction; I’m happy another one was eliminated for me.

If you are traveling, try ditching the data. You will have a better time. Click To Tweet

If you are traveling anywhere, domestic or international, I urge you to try the same thing especially if you’re with a loved one. Whatever is online will still be there later, and the experience will be much, much better.