Last summer, my then-girlfriend Ellen and I took an amazing Alaskan cruise. Travelling round trip from Seattle, we visited Glacier Bay National Park, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. The scenery was breathtaking, and the King Crab was outstanding. The only issue we ran into was the fact that my phone is always on. It’s the classic struggle between “living in the moment” and “always being connected.” The most aggravating part, she later told me, was that as soon as we came back to shore and were within coverage, I had to immediately grab my phone and check my messages.
Yes, I’m one of those people who has separation anxiety if my phone is in another room. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, News, Sports, you name it. I’ve tried to be better about it. I leave my phone on the charger while we eat dinner. I also try to not react like Pavlov’s dog every time it dings with a text, or a SportsCenter “da na na, da na na” notification about a player from one of my favorite teams sneezing.
I’m happy to say that I was good about the phone on the most important night of my life – our wedding. I knew that anyone who needed to reach me would be in the same room, and if there were ever an evening to live in the moment, it was my wedding reception. I couldn’t handle leaving the phone upstairs, but I did put it in airplane mode, using it only as a pocket watch. (Side note: Everyone told us that the night would fly by, and they were absolutely right). I was able to live in the moment and enjoy the best night of my life.
Fast forward a month to our honeymoon and we left with the best intentions:
The best comment on this picture came from a cousin, recounting her honeymoon:
(My husband) left his cellphone in the rental car in LA on our way to French Polynesia for our honeymoon. It was the best gift he could’ve given me, as he was off it for almost 3 full weeks and they had it waiting for us when we returned. Put it in the safe in the room and don’t check it until you leave!
But when we landed in Hawaii, with full cell coverage, my phone dinged with every notification from the last 6 hours we’d been in the air from Phoenix. So one by one, I had to go into my iPhone notifications and turn off News, CNN, Click On Detroit, WXYZ, MLB.tv, ESPN, Twitter, and so many more. And I tried to keep my phone on “Do Not Disturb” so I wouldn’t buzz every time someone texted me. (Although I will say most people kept texting to a minimum, not wanting to bother me on my honeymoon).
My biggest albatross was Facebook. Who doesn’t enjoy watching Likes and Comments roll in when they post something cool? It started with the post above, and while I intended to post very little while away, there were times when I couldn’t resist. My temporary solution – SIGN OUT of Facebook, and only sign in when I wanted to post something or had some down time. Another useful strategy was to “turn off notifications for this post” – I could scroll back when I wanted, but wouldn’t feel compelled to clear out the little red notifications on my Facebook icon.
Howard Stern famously called our phones our “pacifiers” – when we are standing around, or killing time, or waiting for something, we just pull them out – and scroll through our various apps and news feeds. I felt I had somewhat of a reprieve when I saw Ellen take her phone out as we waited for a shuttle bus, or a table at dinner, or various other down time. She can’t yell at me if she’s doing it too, right?
I will say, one of the best parts of our trip was The Road to Hana – a 50 mile drive across Maui, where you average about 15 miles per hour and see some of the most breathtaking scenery everywhere. Also, there’s little cell service in some areas. We downloaded the Gypsy App, which is a narrated tour that tracks your location by GPS without need for data coverage. We saw some amazing sights, from the Black Sand Beach to the Seven Sacred Pools.
It was an amazing (yet long) day, but one of the most fun of the trip. And of course, when Ellen stepped out of a rest room, she busted me checking my messages. Oops.
I wish I could tell you that I have no problem putting my phone away. But I was honest with myself about it. And after a month of marriage, we know that compromise is key. I stayed off my phone for the important things – the scenery, dinners out, snorkeling trips, and spending time together. And in the down time, I checked a few things here and there.
So, no, she didn’t throw my iPhone into the Pacific Ocean. But I’m glad I had it on me. Wouldn’t have wanted to miss this shot of sunset on Waikiki Beach.