PR Niblets

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Week without Connectivity: Ireland Edition

I recently returned from a vacation in Ireland, which is probably one of my first real vacations since entering the professional workforce. Sure, I have been to the beach and taken a few domestic trips here and there to visit friends and family, but this one was different. I was planning it all from start to finish (with the help of a small group of friends, of course) AND it was in a foreign country. We had a game plan: Itineraries, run-of-show packets with tickets for pre-scheduled activities, printed maps/directions for every leg of our trip, etc. The one thing we didn’t anticipate: Internet bandwidth.

The last time I was in Europe, the iPhone didn’t exist and cell phones were a means for calling on-the-go, rarely texting. I knew I wouldn’t be able to text or call my friends like normal, but I had always heard that WiFi was readily available in Ireland for periodic check-ins. This is true EXCEPT when 50,000 college football fans come to town (Yep – that’s right, we went to Ireland to watch American football). 

We all seemed to travel back a decade to “survive” without our mobile devices. That meant:

Making a plan and sticking to it. At any given point in the trip, we had anywhere between five and 12 people that we were coordinating. Rarely did everyone want to do the same thing at the same time… and we had no cell phones to text or call to meet up somewhere later. Instead, we designated specific meeting spots and times to meet. (Time is a difficult concept for many of my friends, but without the distraction of being connected, it was never an issue!)

Our trip mapped out
Having a conversation over meals. I try to do this in my everyday life, but it becomes more and more difficult to not pull up emails or texts during a dull moment of discussion. After spending six days with the same four people, the conversation begins to fade. Many times we found ourselves also striking up a conversation with the friendly table next to us; something that rarely happens these days in NYC. 

Reading a map…and navigating. All of us are pretty reliant on GPS systems these days. But luckily, we had printed maps and were always sure to plot the trip before we hit the road, marking key exits and turning points. As a driver, it’s stressful enough having to drive on the left side of the road from the right side of the vehicle. The last thing you want to think about is where to exit in the next roundabout.

Peace Wall in Belfast, Northern Ireland
After the initial shock of being cut off from the hustle and bustle back home, we quickly embraced the lifestyle of not being connected and enjoyed the endless views and rich culture of Ireland. In just one week, four friends and I road tripped around Ireland and Northern Ireland visiting Dublin, Midleton, Killarney, Dingle, Galway, Belfast and everywhere in between. The endless views were priceless and the memories are surely to last forever.

What would you miss if you were without a smartphone for a week?
Cliffs of Moher

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