You’ve trekked the Himalayas, side-stepping avalanches to scale Everest in a single bound.
You’ve bungee-jumped from the 216-metre high Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa.
You’ve swum with sharks in Hawaii, laid down with Tigers in Thailand, and camped on top of an active volcano in Guatemala.
But have you dared to do any of it sans smartphone?
In 2016, smartphone-free travel is raising the bar for adventurous risk-takers the world over.
Just imagine experiencing the world’s most brilliant, beautiful sites without taking a single selfie, or staying offline long enough to become completely immersed in your destination.
Conscious travellers are swapping the typical tell-all travel style for a more mysterious, more rewarding, more daring travel experience: just you, the present moment, and the adventure that awaits.
Here are 5 reasons to make the leap to smartphone-free travel this year:
1. You’ll Remember More About Your Trip
When your mobile device is an integral part of the travel experience, it can start to define your travel experience. Nothing you see or do “counts” unless it is photographed, posted, and published online. You end up missing the subtle-yet-powerful details that make a place unique because you’re too busy adding filters to photos on Instagram.
Without a way to instantly transform what’s happening live into a digital happening that can be liked and shared, you’re forced into the present moment.
Your mind wakes up and begins taking note of everything happening around you.
Your long-term memory becomes activated, and you’re much more likely to notice details about the place, the people, and the way you feel being there (and remember those details for the rest of your life).
2. You’ll Get Better Travel Photographs
More and more travel companies are offering smartphone-free travel excursions that include a professional photographer.
While you’re out and about seeing the sites, the photographer snaps photos of you, your friends, and your family as if you’re celebrities being stalked by the paparazzi.
This means you can be totally present and engaged with your surroundings while still getting the photos you crave.
3. You’ll Meet More People
How can you make new friends in the Czech Republic when you’re too busy tweeting your buddies back home?
When you’re not strapped to your smartphone, you start to realize how many people there are all around you, just waiting to share their stories and listen to yours.
4. You’ll Enjoy A Digital Detox
Okay, so the first few days sans smartphone might feel like going through withdrawal. Don’t be surprised if you keep reaching for your phone every few minutes, only to realize you’ve left it back in the hotel room.
But once you allow yourself to fully disconnect, you can fully connect to the physical world; a world that’s packed with fascinating people, architecture, languages, and food; a world that invites you to experience it directly without any technology to dilute the immediateness of the moment.
5. You’ll Be Able To Completely Relax
While traveling in Laos, I met a woman taking a 4-month career break to travel the world. She said it took her 2 whole months just to stop thinking about work every day and even begin to relax.
The sooner you start a digital detox, the sooner you’ll be able to let go of the stress, tension, and competition that comes with being connected 24/7.
When you allow yourself to simply be where you are, you can fully embrace and appreciate the wonders of travel, and experience the real you in the real world.
And as someone who’s travelled as a solo female, accidentally eaten an endangered species of cat, and almost gotten kidnapped in Vietnam, let me tell you: finding your true self is the biggest adventure of them all.
Rebekah Voss is a freelance writer and the creator of TheHappyPassport.com, a travel inspiration site for solo female travellers.