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How to Travel Without a Phone? Unplugged Vacations for Millennials

A man relaxes in nature without a phone.

Unplugged Vacations and Tips for Travel Without a Phone

In a world reliant on Google Maps, where Instagram is king, the thought of phone-free travel might seem daunting. But—perhaps, not so surprisingly—as we’ve become more subservient to our phones, the idea of going unplugged is actually growing in popularity.

According to a recent survey by, nearly half of travelers are planning an unplugged vacation so they can disconnect from the daily grind more often in 2024. We like the idea. In fact, we like it so much that we’re here to fill the gap and try something different with a whole new catalog of phone-free trips for millennials.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

We seem to become more glued to our phones, more addicted to technology by the day. And the simple, undeniable truth is that the jungle trail in Bali with the death-defying views toward the Gilis was far more special in real life. The jokes you kind of understood at the pub in Dublin were too. So, if you’re ready to break free and embark on an adventure sans technology, unplugged vacations are here for you.

What is an Unplugged Vacation?

An unplugged vacation is a trip where you intentionally disconnect from technology and your phone. This means no checking emails, scrolling through social media feeds, or taking endless photos for the Gram. Instead, you grab a front row seat with unobstructed views of the present, live in the moment, and fully immerse yourself in the destination and experiences around you.

FTLO encourages guests on certain departures to Havana, Costa Rica, Portugal, Tuscany & Rome, Iceland, and Oaxaca to ditch the phones and focus on life around them. Stare up at the northern lights, laugh over horseback rides with new friends, and relax in paradise.

Tips for an Unplugged Getaway

1. Set Travel Expectations Before You Go

Whether you're taking a road trip to the nearest town or heading to some far-off remote destination, take some time to let your friends, family, and colleagues know that you'll be off grid for a while. Before you say goodbye to the digital devices, forget about cell service, and head off on that getaway, share your travel itinerary and let them know how they can reach you in case of emergencies.

This will help alleviate any concerns and ensure peace of mind for both you and your loved ones. After all, you’re heading out on an unplugged vacation for some outdoor fun to enjoy a world free from digital demands, not to add stress to anyone’s day.

A series of old maps.

2. Old-School Maps

If you’re leaving your smartphone behind, it’s good to remember that resources from days gone by still work pretty damn well. Pop into those guidebooks, bring along those paper maps, and navigate like it’s 1999. And then, say hello to the nostalgia and smile because you’re free.

There’s just something about flipping through the pages of a worn Lonely Planet that screams of liberation, adventure, and one hell of a good time.

A journal on a table with a mug of coffee.

3. Journal Time

Leave your digital diary at home and opt for a good old-fashioned paper journal (these soft cover notebooks from Rhodia are our favorites). Rather than relying on the impersonal screen of your smartphone, a paper journal is that cherished time capsule that always stays interesting. Each page tells a unique story, captured in your own handwriting. It's a tangible record of your experiences, thoughts, and emotions, the rare keepsake that’ll transport you back to those moments long after your trip ends.

As you pen down your adventures—that sliver of waterfall you stumbled across on those hiking trails in Vietnam, the hot springs in Iceland, horseback riding in the mountains of Costa Rica—who knows, you just may discover a deeper connection with yourself. The act of reflection can lead to profound insights and personal growth. You'll learn more about what moves you, what inspires you, and what truly matters on your travels. It’s the ultimate tranquil retreat from the digital noise.

A woman looks out over a city.

4. Disconnect Gradually

This doesn't need to be a sudden digital detox where you toss aside all modern comforts and bid adieu to cell reception. If the thought of going completely phone-free is intimidating, consider a gradual disconnect before you hit the road for your getaway. Start by setting specific hours each day when you'll put your phone away, cut down on the Insta, ditch Reddit, and take a walk in the woods.

If you start to detach from the digital world, you’ll find it even easier when you head abroad for a phone-free adventure.

Two women look at a map in front of a train.

5. Trust Your Instincts

Without the crutch of Google at your fingertips, you'll need to rely more on your instincts and problem-solving skills. Embrace this as an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and engage with your destination on a deeper level. Phone-free travel and unplugged vacations aren’t easy, but they are certainly liberating.

You may have to think on your feet again and make decisions on the spot. You might even stumble into a bar in Golden Gai, throw down too many Asahis, propose to the bartender, and make it to the fish market by dawn. But, you know what was awesome? Stumbling into a bar in Golden Gai, throwing down too many Asahis, proposing to the bartender, and making it to the fish market by dawn.

A group of new friends on a sand dune with sand boards.

6. Unplug to Connect

Traveling without a phone encourages you to engage more with people, nature, and culture around you. Strike up conversations with locals, fellow travelers, and tour guides. Immerse yourself in the present moment, and you'll discover that meaningful connections are way more rewarding than virtual ones.

You may even find that you’ll be able to enjoy quiet time as you connect with yourself without emojis, gifs, and endless scroll consuming your day.

A blue Polaroid camera with a picture of yellow flowers.

7. Rediscover the Joy of Photography

Instead of relying on your smartphone camera, consider bringing a disposable film camera. Capturing moments with intention can lead to a deeper appreciation for the beauty and uniqueness of the great outdoors. Whether you enjoy hiking, bird watching, mountain biking along the beach, or just relaxing beyond city life, fall in love with the world again, dare to look up, appreciate natural beauty, and ignore the mindless digital chatter in favor of the real world.

We’ve got a bold hypothesis: the physical world is making a comeback. It’s hard to cherish photos online, but get your hands on an old-school Polaroid, and, oh baby, now we’re having fun.

8. Be Mindful of Safety

While the goal is to disconnect, it's essential to prioritize safety on any trip. Carry a physical map and a list of emergency contacts. Know the local emergency number for the country you're visiting.

If you’re out at night, travel with friends, and always make sure you keep an eye on each other. Make sure you know where your hotel is located and how to get back there in case anything happens.

A woman meditates in a cabin overlooking the jungle.

9. Revel in the Moment of Solitude

Without the constant distractions of your phone, you'll have moments of solitude. Embrace them as opportunities for introspection, meditation, or relaxation. Soak up the fresh air and spend some time thinking about it a bit.

Maybe that digital world we’ve all found ourselves hunkered down in isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe we don't need to spend our days at some luxury resort. Maybe new experiences, outdoor activities, and deeper connections are the new way of travel. Maybe this great escape is the way to go and there's a reason why trips beyond all inclusive resorts with all the amenities are growing in popularity by the day.

An old woman in Vietnam sells vegetables on a market street.

10. Reflect on Your Journey

Congratulations, you’ve taken down phone-free travel. You’ve discovered a hidden Costa Rican beach with only the recommendations of friendly locals. You’ve found the coolest bar in Istanbul by intuition. The best hike in Iceland long forgotten in an old travel guide.

Beautiful isn’t it?

When it’s all said and done, take some time to reflect on your experiences. What did you learn? How did it feel to disconnect? What moments stood out to you? Journaling about your journey and your newfound perspective can be a powerful way to wrap it all up.

A young woman repels over a waterfall.

A Unique Adventure

Traveling without a phone may initially feel like a leap into the unknown, but it can lead to a more profound connection with the world around you.

So, pack your bags, leave your phone behind (or use it sparingly), and get ready for a world filled with genuine connections, unforgettable experiences, and a renewed sense of wonder.

What’d Ferris Bueller say?

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

1 Comment

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