We all live in a fast-paced, connected world and don’t seem to be able to get away from it. We wake up, check our emails, our phones, our tablets and our PCs to see what is happening. We have to get on social media to check on our friends and which way the latest political winds are blowing. We panic when our phone is out. We cannot survive if we cannot get email. Unplugging for happiness in your life is now more essential than ever.
When I was younger, if while eating dinner the phone rang, we were not allowed to answer it. Now the phone accompanies most people to the dinner table. When making a date, we would call or god forbid do it in person in front of your friends. Now, you just find someone online and ask them out. The personalization of our lives has disappeared.
Online now, I can follow someone’s meeting, dating and breaking up. I can see what they had for dinner on any particular night. We know if someone gets upset, or dumped by a boyfriend/girlfriend, or falls in love. We can follow two people that are married or dating as they message each other. We follow their pets. Their family. Their travels. Almost everything about them.
Think about the last time you flew on a plane. As soon as it landed, almost everyone gets out their phone and texts the person waiting for them. Immediately we have to reconnect.
That is what our lives have become. We have to stay connected for work, social engagements, news, sports and every other facet of life.
We understand it. As travelers, we use the internet quite a bit. Last minute reservations or finding cheap flights. They are all available to us with a few clicks on a keyboard. But we also like “old school” adventures and activities and unplugging to keep us happy and sane is essential in our everyday lives.
Here are just a few ways to unplugg:
We have traveled to over 60 countries and hundreds of cities, campsite, monuments, parks, etc. and have thousands of photos. Online they are great, but we still print them out and put them in photo albums. We love to look through those albums and relive adventures and travels that we forgot or just want to see again. We love to feel the photos in our hands and talk about a certain city, town or park.
We try to post the ones we think are great, but believe me we take many not so great photos. We still love those and print them out for ourselves. We both have photos from over the years that to us are priceless.
Don’t just take photos to show online. Take them for yourself and enjoy them.
Make Real Friends
This sounds like it should be so easy, but we see more and more people are depending on their on-line relationships to comfort them, be happy for them, be sad for them, etc. Make real friends. Real friends are people you actually see and do activities with. Play cards, have a bar-b-que, go to a concert, etc.
More and more, we see solo travelers and to be honest we feel bad for them. Not to have anyone to share memories, talk about the good times, have fun talking about the bad times, having arguments while traveling and making up, and all the other wonderful things that come along with real friendship. Sure, they are not going to give you 300 likes on Facebook or Twitter, but they will give you much more.
Camp and Disconnect
We love to camp. I remember as a kid camping in my back yard. I would pitch a tent and sleep outside. Typically, I would have friends or neighbors with me and we would stay up all night talking, and doing things that we probably shouldn’t have been doing, but it was fun. In my own way, it was an adventure.
As big of an adventure as traveling to some unknown city or country as it was my tent, in my yard, with my friends. Enjoying the night in Pennsylvania where I grew up. It didn’t cost any money, and home was close by so if there were any problems, I knew I could just go in the house.
I still have that same wanderlust today and still love to tent camp. We have tent camped inside Yellowstone, up in the Arctic in Norway, and throughout the US. It has been wonderful and the fact that we didn’t have Wi-Fi or cell service forced us to communicate, and share with each other.
I think we all have a primordial instinct to being out in the wilderness and surviving. Cooking over a fire, sleeping on the ground, exploring, are all in our DNA.
And when you meet someone camping, you don’t talk about politics or Facebook, you talk about the bear that you saw, or the trail that they hiked. You chat about other places you have gone and where they have traveled to. It takes you back to how people used to communicate with each other before social media and do-everything phones.
We love traveling and sharing our travels online. But we also love to camp. To disconnect. To be real. And to go back to a much simpler time.
Keep a Journal
We always keep a journal of our travels. We have about 100 of them and refer to them all the time. It is fun to read about an adventure we took or see exactly where we went. So many times, we forget and it helps us remember. It is also just fun.
We keep little mementos in them as well. We have tickets to parks that we visited and even pressed flowers in some. They really are cool and best of all they are free. Every night on a journey we spend about an hour writing what we did that day. Who we met. Where we went.
We also have a journal dedicated to traveling up to land that we own and plan on building a cabin on in North Carolina. It has the date, who went with us, what we did and more. It really is fun to re-read what and when we had gone and what we accomplished.
I know that people can keep a blog or post it on Facebook. That is fine. But to actually write it down is so much more. We want to have that as a complete record of our travels and our building of our cabin. We want to read what we wrote and what we were thinking when we wrote it. It is not always perfect English, but it doesn’t have to be. It is for us. And that is what makes it special.
Have a Game Night
We are not talking about video game night where you play against players around the country or the world. We are also not talking about anything electronic. Have an old-fashioned game night with friends and/or family.
We get together with others and play cards and love it. We talk, argue, agree, disagree, yell and do all the activities that friends and family should do. We argue over the score, we gang up on a person to put them out of the running and we are totally unfair with our criticisms of each other. We love it. And guess what? No one goes home mad. No one goes home angry.
Both of our families have played cards since we were born. I remember playing two-handed pinochle with my dad for hours. He taught me how to play chess. We had fun. We had monumental games of scrabble where the whole family would play. It was a bonding session as much as a game of chance.
We still love to do this and do it as often as we can. We combine our love of camping and play games on the road. We go bowling. We love having that interaction with our families and friends.
Our Final Word
There are other ways of unplugging and making yourself happy. Join a book club (no kindles and not online), have a hobby (we have so many hobbies that we cannot get them all done, including woodworking, sewing, archeology, etc.) or just read a newspaper from cover to cover.
We are now at a place in history where it seems actual human interaction is considered old-school. That making real friends and playing games seem square. But believe me it is not. Not only fun, it bonds the relationship you have with your family and with your friends. It brings real people closer. It makes us all understand that there are more similarities to each other than differences. So next time you are looking for someone to play cards with, give us a call.
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