Outdoors

How To Unplug, Even When You Don’t Want To

Things you should not do while camping

Have you ever been talked into going on a trip into the wilderness and just dreaded the thought because you would be off the grid? Some people find it very relaxing to unplug completely from their high speed life and to just get away from technology for a small window of time.

Others, feel uncomfortable and even sometime uneasy at the thought of being without their phone or the internet.

What if there’s an emergency? What if you miss something important? What if you frenemy gets more likes on social media than you do?

If you are a parent of a teenager, you know the struggle is real. So how do you unplug or encourage other people to unplug even when you or they don’t want to? Here are some methods I use when I’m in this situation.

Plan Distractions

If you’re someone who loves being on their phone, you know the feeling of needing something to distract you. You are constantly telling your brain that you’re busy by scrolling through social media, checking the weather, or looking through emails. Your brain gets used to having a stimulation overload. It gets used to having immediate results when you have a query and getting information at the drop of a pin.

What your brain forgets to do is to ponder something in your own mind without looking up an answer. Your imagination and creativity can suffer.

So, one of the best things you can do if you are trying to unplug yourself or a friend, is come up with some distractions that really get them thinking. Maybe later in the day is a good time for silence, relaxation, or even meditation. But if you want to break someone in to not missing their phone right off the bat, then create distractions

Some great distractions or games are these:

  • Nature bingo
  • Camp songs while you hike
  • Stimulating conversation
  • Truth or dare
  • Scary stories
  • Prepare a campfire meal
  • Swimming
  • Building a fire
  • Learning knots
  • Rock climbing
  • Fishing

Take Lots of Pictures

If you or a loved one is a social media addict, it can be tough to leave that behind. One way to soothe your addict when they start coming down from their high and need a fix, is to take lots of pictures.

They might be sad that they have to leave the virtual world behind for a few days, but if they can take lots of pictures that they can post later about all the time they had, then they might feel a little better about themselves.

One tip about this though, is try to use a digital camera separate from your phone. I know it might not be as convenient for sharing and editing purposes, but if you keep your phone on you the whole time, even if it doesn’t connect to the internet, you never quite feel unplugged. You will constantly be thinking about looking something up and then realize with disappointment that you can’t. Or constantly searching for service. Or will frequently feel the “phantom buzzes” of a text notification that never happened.

Enjoy your trip, and take lots of pictures that you can upload later, but try to remember to be in the moment rather than acting happy for the snapshot.

Leave Your Phone

If you are going out in the wilderness, where you know there will be no service, there really is no point in taking your phone with you. Leave it in your car when you arrive at the parking lot. You might wonder if it could be helpful in an emergency just in case you were able to get some kind of signal, but the odds are not great for this.

If you leave it behind, you won’t be thinking about it as much. You’ll be able to connect more with the people around you and not play solitaire or scroll through your camera roll when you get bored.

It’s good to be bored from time to time. Get comfortable with the silence. Get to know the thoughts running in your head when you have nothing to do. You may find that hearing your voice in your head is like meeting up with an old friend.


What are some of your favorite tips to unplug? Do you have a family member or friend who is completely dependent on their devices? Have you ever invited them to explore the world off the grid?

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