Austria,  Things that make me happy,  We12inspire

Travel without social media

Do you remember the day that we had no internet phones or iPads? That there was no such thing as checking in, sharing, tagging, liking and unliking? I went back to those days during one of my recent trips to Austria.

During the last summer I suddenly got sick and tired of it all. “It” being tweeted, liked, shared and tagged all the time. When I didn’t check WhatsApp for a day, friends started to worry something was wrong. When I didn’t reply to my FB messages for a couple of days, people thought I was sick in bed. Or something …

So my trip to Austria seemed the perfect way to leave “it” behind for a couple of days. After arrival at the appartment and posting on FB I arrived safe and sound (I drove to Austria all by myself which was quite the challenge) I switched off my iPhone and put it far away in a drawer. That first night I slept like a baby. No iPhone lighting up, buzzing for every message coming in or waking me up with a terrifying alarm that normally tells me there’s a new working day ahead.

I had to think about my time as a backpacker in Australia a lot. Back then (2002) there was just an occasional phonecall to Martijn from a phonebooth down the street and once or twice a week I would email to home that all was fine. Other than that, nothing. No digital pictures, no Skyping, no “click and sharing” and definetely no checking in. Looking back at it, it was the purest trip I ever had, nobody but me really knew about the journey I was making, simply because sharing did (almost) not exist back then.

Back to the present time: I did have mixed up feelings about not being online for a week and these were my most important conclusions:

It was … scary!
A couple of years ago I was unavailable for a couple of days when hiking the W trek in Southern Chile and when I got back into cell phone reception land, I instantly got a message from my sister that I needed to call home straight away. Believe me, that’s not a message you want to receive when travelling. Ever! It turned out my dad had been in the I.C. of the hospital during my stay in the park. By the time I got back into the land of cellphones, he was out and home again, recovering from surgery. So this time, for emergencies only, I left the phonenumer of the appartment owners with my family. Just in case…

It was … quiet!
Hours that I normally spent on my iPhone or laptop passed by while reading. And sleeping. And reading even more. I finished 4 books in 6 days! When hiking through the mountains there were no beeps, zooms or rings and I could focus on photography and enjoying the natural surroundings.

It was … boring!
Sure, I’ll admit it. I like to share where I am and who I am with on Facebook. And Twitter. And Instagram. During the first day I felt strange for not carrying a phone in my pocket that I could upload pictures with or keep my friends posted with. When Martijn was browsing the internet at night (he didn’t join me on this mission) I sometimes felt left out. So I just continued reading… or sleeping. (I slept A LOT during this vacation, at least 10 hrs each night.)

It was … liberating!
Not having to email, whatsapp, tweet, like, check in and tag felt great. There has not been a moment I felt the need to check what my friends were doing or that I had to show the world where I was.


Did I cheat?
Yes and no! Yes, I did switch my phone on one day, the day that we split up for seperate activities. Martijn went mountainbiking and I went hiking and we’d agreed to meet somewhere half way. We texted each other to inform about the arrival times at the mountain hut we decided to meet. It was very useful as it turned out I could climb an extra mountain before meeting up for lunch. And yes, when we got the news that our Dutch prince Friso passed away, I did look at the message on a digital news site. But just that site. No social media!

I love my iPhone and I love sharing where I am and what I’m doing. I like it when others do it, too. However, I now completely understand why people decide to switch off their phones for a week when on vacation. I learned that you can easily go without social media for a week and people (and the world) won’t forget about you. You won’t die if you don’t check in somewhere or post a picture. I actually was a better person than I normally am during this week. I might do it again in the future, being away from the www for a while when on the way. We’ll see…

Have you ever tried going without social media when traveling? Do you feel like sharing your traveling experiences or do you like to keep them private?




Anto is a 30-something outdoor fan who travels the world about 100 days a year, combined with a full-time office job. She loves to go hiking, enjoys a good class of wine and can usually be found with an iPhone in her hand. Favorite destinations: New Zealand, Patagonia, Austria and Alaska.


  • flora

    Ok een comment dan… En de grote vraag is… Heb je ietsggemist, was er veel gebeurd op fb, twitter, instag etc… Nee natuurlijk niet want de belangrijkste zaken worden je persoonlijk verteld 🙂

  • Gudrun

    I think it’s a great thing to do. To me it’s stressful to be obliged to read messages and take or make phonecalls when on holiday. I like to be away when I’m away. Of course I want to be able to be contacted in cases of emergency, but not for every day issues, that I want to recover from. I can’t relax when I know I have to check the mobile permanently.
    Second, receiving postcards or talking about a trip in person after the return is much more fun when you know not much about it so far. Having followed every step by FB, having seen the best pics already via Email and being told everything on the phone, there’s no point in showing all the photos and stuff when back home. It will bore the people, although there is much more to tell and to show than they know already.

    • anto

      Here I am replying again to your message. Our database got deleted and everything I did after November 5th dissapeared. So you may get this message again. I totally agree, it can be stressful to be obliged to read messages when on the road. We usually post previews of pictures (I know for example my family who does not have smartphones, enjoys them a lot) but we always make a paper printed album and invite our friends over to come and look at it when we’re back home. If you want I can send you a postcard from one of my next journeys!

  • Wife with Baggage

    Great post! We travel with a laptop (mostly to back up photos), but no phones! A lot of people think we’re crazy, but it IS liberating! We do like to find Wi-Fi occasionally to check in, but we mostly “unplug” and explore!

    • anto

      Here I am replying again to your message. Our database got deleted and everything I did after November 5th dissapeared. So you may get this message again. No phones is probably smart, but it’s my alarm clock and also my weather message and iBook. But I usually switch 3G or wifi off nowadays. Exploring is what it’s all about!

  • Linda Van Bokhorst

    Leuk om te lezen! Op Cuba had ik het ook, mede omdat daar bijna geen internet is. Verschil met nu:toen had ik nog geen blog… Ik vond het zo fijn, er was een moment dat we wel even WiFi hadden, toen had ik totaal geen behoefte om in te loggen! 🙂

  • Integrated Expat

    I never have internet access when I’m travelling. My husband, on the other hand, has an i-phone and even in the remotest locations in Switzerland, he’d turn it on to send a message to our teenagers back home (first time home alone). Tops of mountains, cable car, remote campsites. He doesn’t use social media, though. I don’t usually miss it at the time for a couple of weeks, but it takes me ages to catch up once I get back home. When we were in the USA for 5 weeks last year, I really did miss social media because (bizarrely, compared to Switzerland), we had almost no internet connection. It was great when we did and I managed to set up a meeting with another BookCrosser while we were there.

    • anto

      I’m sure I’m gonna miss social media this time so we’re going to log in every now and then, also to make sure everyone back home is fine. But I’m planning to do lots of reading as well. I’ve tried to set up meetings with BC-ers in South America but it hasn’t worked so far…

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