Since I got my first iPhone two years ago, I’ve lightened my tech load considerably when I travel. For most short trips, I now leave my trusty MacBook Pro home — or at least in its bag. I can check email, surf the web, watch movies and even post articles to RandomMaccess from my iPhone.
Lightening is one thing, but going for almost a week without tech of any kind is quite another. Yet that’s the situation I faced on a recent scouting trip with my older son last month.
We traveled to Summerland Key, one of the western most of the Florida Keys. Warned by our island guides that there was no electricity or cell coverage anyway, we were informed that cellphones, iPods, etc were prohibited on the island. My digital SLR camera was the only thing with a battery I would be able to take. Other than that, the most advanced piece of technology I carried was my Leatherman multi-tool.
So how did I fare? Much better than I expected, actually. We were busy enough that I was never really all that tempted to post to Twitter or check email. It turns out that fishing, snorkeling, kayaking and preparing food are pretty good distractions from web surfing and iApps. And once I came to terms with the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to check in with my Lotus Notes account at the office, I was fine. The only time I was really conscious about not having my iPhone was when I wanted to use my Star Walk application to identify some of the constellations that were so brilliant in the night sky, and to use my iPhone as a camera — especially a video camera.
Albert Einstein once said “never memorize what you can look up in books.” With my iPhone and its near-ubiquitous connection to the web and all its vast resources, along with nine screens of applications, I can look up almost anything and so by extension, have to memorize almost nothing. That meant I had to rely on my memory and not my knot-tying app or my first aid app or even — Lord help me — Google. In the end, my two half hitches and taught line hitch held the hammock (my bed for the week) securely to our favorite gumbo limbo tree; we estimated the time from the sun’s position in the sky well enough to know when to start dinner; and we identified several constellations (and the Milky Way!) as we snorkeled in the dark night. All in all, I’m glad I traded the convenience of being able to look up a few things for the absence of distractions and temptations having the iPhone would have meant.