I was so excited for my trip to Cuba, but was also wasn’t quite prepared for how disconnected I really would be. I knew there wasn’t really cell phone coverage or strong wi-fi, but I didn’t believe that until I got there. As soon as I landed, I turned on my phone – zero coverage. I’ll admit I slightly panicked, but told myself I already knew this was a possibility. AT&T had told me they were in Cuba now, but where I’m not sure because I didn’t get coverage anywhere in Cuba.
The other girls I was meeting in Cuba were supposed to land at the same time, but I had no idea they were delayed for three hours because there was no way for me to communicate with them. By the time they finally arrived, it was too late to go into town to try to find wi-fi. I felt a little bit of anxiety creep in as I realized I wouldn’t be able to check my phone to see if there were any emergencies. There was nothing I could do, so I forgot about it and fell asleep.
The next morning I woke up and realized how ridiculous I sounded. I was in Cuba! Why was I worried about getting online when I was in a country I never even thought I’d be able to go to in my life? There was absolutely no way I was going to ruin my trip being anxious about being online. Among the many parts I enjoyed in Cuba, being disconnected actually made me a better traveler. Here’s what I found out about what happens when you’re forced to be offline.
The World Doesn’t Stop
Shocker alert. We’re so used to having wi-fi everywhere (I’m actually writing this 10,000 feet up in the air as we speak), so it feels like something is missing when we can’t get online. I thought for sure some huge emergency would happen while I was in Cuba and I would log on to frantic emails.
To be fair, my income depends on being online, as I’m a social media manager for a variety of bloggers and companies. Social media needs to be checked on a daily basis to make sure there’s nothing urgent to respond to, but luckily much of the content can be scheduled ahead of time. Guess what didn’t happen, though? A single emergency.
In fact, after I left Cuba and finally got strong wi-fi at my hotel in Panama, I realized how much junk I get on a daily basis. There were so many newsletters that I had no interest in anymore, so I ended up unsubscribing to a ton. Now I only get emails that are actually important and freed up much more time during the day as a result.
You’re Much More Observant
I always attempt to learn basic phrases for new countries I visit, but I also rely heavily on my phone. I can quickly look up a phrase on a restaurant’s wi-fi to say to the waiter if needed. When you don’t have that luxury, you’re forced to really pay attention to the words and body language of a person. For example, I realized I actually knew a lot more Spanish than I thought, but probably wasn’t paying attention to enough words in the past. I ended up leaving Cuba knowing more phrases than before.
You also focus on your senses more when you don’t have your phone to distract you. I paid more attention to the smells coming out of cafes at lunch, to children playing soccer on the streets, and to the music drifting out of the local homes. We spent some time by the ocean along the Malecón and I loved people watching instead of trying to upload my latest social media post.
You’re Forced to Interact
Unless you’re painfully shy, this is a good thing. I love talking to people, so if I can’t do it online, I need to talk to people in person. I focused on conversations much more with the locals and in return, gained valuable insider’s knowledge out of them. I got to learn (and meet) our driver’s family, hear all about my host’s life when he was younger, and even get to know the housekeeper a bit. That would have never happened if I was in my room on my laptop.
You Have Time For Yourself
This was a huge one for me. I’m very guilty of not making enough time for myself and my hobbies. Not being online forced me to take time for myself and spend more time thinking. I read not one, but four books on my Kindle while I was there. It was so relaxing to end the day that way instead of checking social media.
When’s the last time you completely disconnected?
This post is in partnership with Fit Life Creation, but all opinions are my own.
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