Time Well Spent//

Check Your Tech: Summer Travel in the Here and Now

While we check our baggage with the airlines, we need to “carry on” mindfully interacting with our smartphones.

Traveling in 2017 is increasingly more and more convenient because of the powerful mobile devices in our hands. We can instantaneously book our flights and hotel rooms.

There are more ways to connect than ever -yet many of us know the hollow ache of loneliness.

Filling up our time with screens doesn’t only create loneliness. Not allowing ourselves to be bored reduces our memory capacity and more importantly our creativity. That can’t be good for the future.

In her most recent podcast episode, Manoush Zomorodi, of WNYC’s “Note To Self Radio”, reminds us that when we let ourselves get bored, magic things start to happen.

This past week I found myself in a few different airports and trust me, there was NO magic. Not a lot has changed about how people spend their time waiting out a layover. People still pace up and down the fluorescent lit hallways. Some don’t mind sitting on the carpet even though we know a lot about how bacteria lives in synthetic weaves (a 2001 study found carpet to be 4,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat! That’s for another blog).

There is one thing about travel that HAS dramatically changed over the past 3–5 years…everyone’s heads are facing down! I share some tips about how you can keep your head up, so read on.


Recently, I had a 3 hour layover in Reagan International Airport and found that only 1 out of 8 people looked up when I passed by them. It felt like I was walking among “tech consumed” zombies.

Airports aren’t helping either. One of my layovers was at LaGuardia Airport where there are tablets for travelers’ personal use on every table top. I understand the appeal of using a personal tablet to order my food and check the CNN headlines when I am traveling ALONE, but what about when I am traveling with friends and family?


I am constantly inspired by the writings of Tristan Harris, Adam Alter, Manoush Zomorodi and Dr Larry Rosen whose wisdom and research guide me in mindfully interacting with my smartphone.

Here are my tips on keeping your head up and being in the moment while traveling on vacation (and in everyday life):

  1. CHANGE YOUR VIEW! I reconfigured the first screen on my smartphone to feature only those apps that add value to my life or only require a quick “in and out”. Thoughtfully searching for the app I want to use gives me a moment of reflection. The rest of my apps live on the second screen in folders.


2. EAT IN PEACE! I put my phone on “airplane mode” whenever I sit down for a meal with another person and even when I am eating alone. According to an article in the Daily Mail UK, “Not paying attention to our food makes us more prone to snacking later”. You can choose your own time of day to disconnect. It may not be meal time for you. To deal with my anxiety that my loved ones are trying to reach me, I preemptively send a text to certain people.

3. TAKE CONTROL! I use the “control center” to access my camera and clock instead of unlocking my phone. This way I can set my alarm or take a photo without going down the rabbit hole of a mindless tech loop. I sometimes literally hear my phone whisper, “Check your FB page”.


4. CHOOSE HEALTHY INFLUENCERS! I followed Manoush’s “Bored and Brilliant bootcamp” featured in the podcast episode I mentioned above. It is a three day challenge that escorted me safely out of my smart phone comfort zone and kick started me into more mindfully interacting with my mobile device. I highly recommend that you take the 16 min to listen. I also preordered Manoush Zomorodi’s book, Bored and Brilliant” which comes out September 5th!!

Note: I keep the focus on changing my own behavior because I can’t change anyone else’s. This is my husband in the airport. Apparently he earned a lot of word puzzle badges on our trip!!

Originally published at medium.com

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