Mechanical timepieces, transistor radios, and paper guidebooks: Digital detox requires getting back to basics.
“Sorry,” I said, pulling my noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones wirelessly from my ears. “I didn’t catch that.”
“Mandatory call-in on the 12th, Gibson,” she said.
I pulled up Calendar on my Apple Watch. “No good,” I replied. “I’m taking PTO that whole week. Gonna get away and unplug.”
She guffawed. “You? Unplug?” I laughed along with her, mostly because one of my phones was tickling my right kidney. “A hundred dollars says you won’t make it a day and a half.”
My bluff called, I doubled down. “Let’s make it two, and I’ll go a full five days without logging on.”
“I want this in writing.”
“No need,” I said, tapping the temple of my Google Glass, which I was wearing underneath my Instaglasses. “The video’s already in the cloud.” Behind me, the SSD in my shockproof ultrabook clicked ominously from its spot next to my iPad.
I opened my Macbook Pro and started shopping. I knew, deep in my heart, that I could unplug, if I could find the right gear.
I’ll need to write things down, but none of that Moleskine hipster nonsense for me—mostly because I’ve forgotten how to hold a pencil. I’ll be toting the battery-powered Astrohaus Freewrite portable sort-of typewriter
thingy ($500; pictured above), so I can write down all the wisdom I collect during my unplug. (I’ll upload it all to the cloud when I’m back home.)
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Since I’ll be dining in some restaurants during my trip, I’m going to need a camera. The Fujifilm Instax Mini 90
($180) actually makes physical photos right after you take them, and they all have that cool border you see on Pinterest a lot.
I’ve noticed that my thigh tingles about every 40 seconds, at which point I habitually reach into my pocket to check for phone alerts. To satiate my Phantom Phone Syndrome while I travel, I’m carrying a Substitute Phone
by designer Klemens Schillinger ($230). They’re like fidget spinners for the tech-obsessed.4.
Music will be difficult without my Pandora playlist, but I see that I can still buy a portable radio (and I am told there are still radio stations). The Sangean SR-35
($20) actually tunes using a dial instead of digital presets, so I’ll be able to pick up news, sports, and the colorful local music scene.
I’ll need a watch, though I’m not really sure what for since I’ll be missing all my conference calls anyway. But the Seiko railroad watch
($268) has some nice heft and is magnetically shielded to stay accurate—which is important since it can’t automatically sync to precise Internet time like most modern time-telling devices.6.
To pass the time, I’ll pack away some analog versions of some of my favorite digital pursuits. I’ve sourced an unplugged Kindle
, and I’ve even managed to find an offline version of one of my favorite strategy games
, although it’s sold out at the moment
The place I’m going is full of twisty lanes and dangerous cul-de-sacs. Without the benefit of Google Maps and Waze, I’d likely get turned around without some sort of wayfinding. Luckily, the London A-Z Street Atlas
sells a printed-out version ($10) of its app, so I needn’t fear getting lost in the digital wasteland of Shoreditch.>>Next: The Best Notebooks for All Types of Travelers