Being Disconnected | Beyond the Bay The Benefits of A No-Internet Unplugged Vacation

As most of you know, this past January, I took a life-changing, amazing, and incredibly fun trip to New Zealand!  Everything about the country exceeded my expectations – except for their wifi connection.

As a business owner, internet is essential to keeping my company running.  I had planned to continue to answer emails, post images on social media, and maybe even work on a blog post or two, but as we left the borders of the US, we got an inkling of how internet-less this trip was going to be.  Wifi at our layover in Fiji was expensive and incredibly slow.  When we arrived at the NZ airport, I decided not to buy a sim card with cell phone data, thinking that wifi would be available at our home. When we got to our first AirBNB in Auckland…internet chaos ensued!

Being Disconnected - Benefits of an Unplugged Vacation Chesapeake Charm Photography Travel

Being Disconnected - Benefits of an Unplugged Vacation Chesapeake Charm Photography Travel Beyond the Bay

As we all tried to connect to the wifi at the same time, the modem would continually crash.  The homeowner (who conveniently lived across the street) said that only 14 devices could be connected at once .  He explained that New Zealand is considered a 3rd world country when it comes to internet connectivity! And when you have 17 creative business owners all in one house, with phones, laptops, and iPads…internet is a necessity!  As much as we tried to make it work, it seemed like it was crashing at least once or twice a day.

Being Disconnected - Benefits of an Unplugged Vacation Chesapeake Charm Photography Travel Beyond the Bay

At first, I was so sad about not being able to update facebook and instagram in real time…I loved the experience I was having and wanted to share it with my friends and family! But what I soon came to realize was that not being connected to the internet was quite…refreshing. 

Being Disconnected - Benefits of an Unplugged Vacation Chesapeake Charm Photography Travel

Being Disconnected - Benefits of an Unplugged Vacation Chesapeake Charm Photography Travel Beyond the Bay

While others were posting images to facebook, discussing instagram captions, or snapping away on snapchat, I found myself spending a lot of time looking out the window of our big passenger van, truly observing my environment.  And don’t get me wrong – I totally admire these other ladies for the commitment, purpose, and design of their posts!

Lauren Swann Photography

Being Disconnected - Benefits of an Unplugged Vacation Chesapeake Charm Photography Travel Beyond the Baytop two photos by Lauren R Swann

One dark evening, on the way back from one of our excursions, I was looking out the window as usual.  I kept seeing these small, dark, flightless, football-shaped birds…so I shouted “You guys! I think I just saw a KIWI!”  Well of course this got everyone’s attention, so we all kept watching out the windows and sure enough, we saw more!! It was an amazing moment and  my fellow traveler Natalie was especially excited, so much so that she cried.  It meant so much to her to see a Kiwi! They are the cutest little birds and a national symbol of New Zealand.  After a little bit of research I  learned that Kiwis are actually sort of rare, so they may have just been Wekas…(Sorry Natalie!) but that’s besides the point.  🙂  If I had had my nose in my phone like I normally would’ve on a long car ride, I would have missed those little birds and that (now hilarious) moment completely.

Being Disconnected - Benefits of an Unplugged Vacation Chesapeake Charm Photography Travel Beyond the Bay

For me, this trip was the first time in several years that I felt that I got to truly live in the moment and take it all in.  I noticed things about the country that I feel I may have missed if I had bought something so simple as a sim card in my phone.

Chesapeake Charm Photography

I lived intentionally.  I tried new things and accomplished all of the things I wanted to do while I was in the country of my dreams. I took a helicopter ride to the top of a glacier. I bungee jumped. I rode a speeding shotboat down a canyon. I rode a horse named Oscar through the Lord of the Rings filming locations.  I hiked around a lake surrounded by mountains.  I admired the crystal clear water.

Being Disconnected - Benefits of an Unplugged Vacation Chesapeake Charm Photography Travel Beyond the Bay

I truly appreciated the sights before my eyes.

Milford Sound Chesapeake Charm Photography

Being Disconnected - Benefits of an Unplugged Vacation Chesapeake Charm Photography Travel Beyond the Bay

I felt one with nature.

Erica Kay Photography

But most importantly, I came home feeling revived because I was able to do all of this without distraction.

Being Disconnected - Benefits of an Unplugged Vacation Chesapeake Charm Photography Travel Beyond the Bay

I’m not gonna lie, in the past couple of years I’ve become one of those people that is on my phone a lot due to the growth of social media and my business.  I mean, I just love Instagram.  I’m a visual person, so I love scrolling through pretty pictures! But you know what? This trip has done something great for me.  It made me start to work on being more intentional with my phone time, so that I can enjoy my environment and not miss the flowers blooming or the leaves changing in the fall.  I’m also an avid hiker who doesn’t hike much anymore, and I’m trying to make more time for that.

Being Disconnected - Benefits of an Unplugged Vacation Chesapeake Charm Photography Travel Beyond the Bay

This trip reminded me that sometimes its ok to not document a moment – there’s nothing better than a beautiful memory.

Next time you travel, I dare you, put down your phone.

And let’s be real.  Pictures don’t do New Zealand justice anyway.  🙂