5 Reasons Why You Should Unplug On Your Next Adventure

The best of life is happening right in front of your eyes.

By: Kevin Abernethy
January 22, 2016

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Technology has taken over and most of us live in a world where we rarely do anything without our cell phones or laptops. Research even suggests that the average person can’t go six minutes without checking their cell phone. We have all heard the phrase “digital detox” but how does this apply to our outdoor adventures? If you can unplug from technology you allow yourself to reconnect with life and with the people and places around you. What better place to unplug than in nature? Hopefully the scenery around you motivates you to unplug, but if not, here are five specific reasons to encourage you to put the electronics away and fully enjoy your next outdoor adventure.

1. Make mental memories.

Our phones make it so simple to stay connected and if you are anything like, me you are constantly looking for that perfect picture when you are in the wild. This habit makes me fail to completely take in and appreciate my surroundings. Ironically, the places I remember the most are the ones where I put my camera and phone away and soaked in each location by stopping and living in the moment. Pictures are a great reminder of the places you have been, but don’t let them be the only thing that allows you to remember the adventures you’ve taken. You can’t truly appreciate the places you are by viewing your surroundings through a 5 inch screen. I recommend bringing a sketchbook and creating pictures by drawing what you see. I am a terrible artist, but this encourages me to look at all the details of whatever is in front of me and truly absorb the moment. Pictures eventually lose their luster, but the memories you gain last a lifetime.

2. Don’t waste irreplaceable time.

Life moves at an alarming pace and time may be free, but it’s priceless. Don’t spend this free time updating your social media accounts or checking your email. You should always have emergency options if someone needs to contact you, but while you are outdoors you should motivate yourself to value every minute you have by truly unplugging as much as you can. Try to keep a journal while you’re out, this will help you remember more than the visual experience. Write down what you are enjoying the most, how you feel, and what was the highlight of the day. Going back and reading a journal will remind you of the entire experience, not just what you were looking at. I recently visited in Utah The Wave at Coyote Buttes North and I made it a point to sit down and write about the journey. Ironically, I go back and read that description more than I look at the pictures I took.

Snowshoe Deer Creek Canyon Park | Photo: Jason Hatfield

3. Motivate and inspire others.

Some studies suggest that checking our cell phones is contagious and you are about 40% more likely to use your phone if someone around you is checking theirs. We often take outdoor trips with friends, family, or our children so be the example for your group and encourage everyone to put their electronics away. Enjoy and appreciate the trip by what taking in what you have right in front of you. Technology is an everyday distraction in the real world, don’t let it prevent you from strengthening your relationships with the people you are with while reconnecting with nature. You also don’t want to be the reason everyone else is pulling out their phones to check what’s going on back in the real world. Gain a mutual agreement with the group by allotting a specific time to use the technology you brought with you, but make it a point to unplug and enjoy the company and the scenery.

4. Give your mind a break.

Most of us work a 9-5 and our outdoor adventures give us a break from the 40 hour grind. Statistics show that about 30% of cell phone owners say their phone is something they couldn’t live without! Don’t spend time away from your weekly routine by staying plugged in to your technology. If you can truly unplug you will return back to the real world feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the next project or deadline. When you unplug you also move away from the working mentality and you give your brain and body a rest which will ultimately improve your overall health and well-being. Let your mind and body take a break by returning to the wild with a minimalist attitude in regards to technology, you will thank yourself when you get back to work.

5. Learn to contribute rather than consume.

When we are in the wild we are essentially either consuming or creating, unplugging or staying connected. Disconnecting from technology promotes an attitude of creativity rather than consumption. Most of the time we spend with technology we are consuming something; looking at social media, listening to music, or browsing pictures on Instagram. We don’t need more consumers, especially in the outdoors. Motivate yourself to be creative with your time outside and learn how you can offer your own unique contribution while spending time in nature. Learning to be a wilderness contributor will not only enhance your outdoors experience but it will also benefit your everyday life by allowing you to reset and refresh.

Backpack to Clouds Rest from Glacier Point | Photo: Austin Trigg

We all quote the John Muirs and John Burroughs, but we’ve probably all been guilty of continually updating our status or sending snaps of what we are looking at on our adventures. There are numerous reasons to unplug when you are bagging your next peak or chilling at your campsite, but hopefully this list encourages you to temporarily unplug and truly unwind on your next adventure. Remember, the best of life is happening right in front of you, don’t live it through a camera lens or a computer screen.

Cover photo: Austin Trigg

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.