Forgo cell service
With roaming plans getting cheaper, it’s tempting to stay connected while away. But unless you really need cellular service – say, for safety reasons, or you need to be reachable in case of an emergency back home – just say no. You’ll save money (spend it on a fancy meal instead) and be able to stay more in the present. You can always check in when WiFi is available.
For the duration of your vacation, delete any time-sucking apps from your phone. Yes, there’s nothing stopping you from downloading them again or, perhaps, logging into a web-browser version while travelling. But both of those actions will require a smidge more effort, giving you a couple of seconds to consider whether the interruption is really worth it.
A quick post to Instagram is innocent enough. The problem is doing so can easily lead to 30 minutes of scrolling and surfing. If you don’t trust yourself to exert self-restraint, enlist your phone to help. Both iOS and Android operating systems allow you to set time limits to help control your app use. Go over your allowance and you’ll get an alert. The trick is to not ignore it.
Go old school
The cameras on smartphones are so good nowadays you don’t really need to pack a separate one. But doing so can help you stay offline, since you can’t edit, filter and post immediately – and you’re not getting distracted by text messages and notifications every time you take a shot. Consider also packing a guidebook or – gasp! – a real paper map.
Do all your online research while you’re riding the train to work or halfheartedly watching some trashy reality show at home. Getaways are for eating at amazing restaurants, not spending time reading reviews of them on Yelp. Arrived feeling unprepared? Ask real people – the concierge, a bartender, someone who looks interesting on the street – for suggestions.