You are here

No Service, No Problem

14 Apr 2017

Learning to not panic without cell data is a significant part of the abroad experience. Although I wouldn't necessarily say its one of the major challenges, traveling without the convenience of internet on your phone can be quite the nuisance. However, from my previous experiences I would say that dealing with international phone plans through Italian phone companies is an even bigger nuisance. After the first couple trips out of Italy, I decided that the best way for me to travel is without data. 

Now this isn't as scary as I thought it would be. We're lucky to live in a world where WiFi is accessible almost anywhere and Google Maps allows you to download maps offline. So as long as you plan ahead, its more than possible to travel with a phone that can only make phone calls. Doing so makes traveling more fulfilling because you have to learn to not be dependent on your phone. Whenever we're faced with any sort of challenge these days, our first thought is to automatically turn to our phones to help solve the problem. Not even that long ago, this luxury wasn't an option and people really had to utilize other resources (like paper maps?!). I do think that not relying on my phone has helped me to become a smarter and more alert traveler. 

I especially love taking my weekend trips now because it's a time to disconnect from technology and really enjoy the place I'm exploring and the company of the people I'm with. Over spring break, I took a trip with 3 friends to explore the coast of Portugal. Instead of using the traditional Airbnb or hostel, we decided to do some camping. This meant that WiFi was not something we had access to for a few days. And this was not nearly as tragic as it may sound. It was honestly one of my favorite trips I've taken yet just because I wasn't focused on my phone at all. I was completely present and carefree. Since none of us were glued to our phones, we got more out of our time together and were always having meaningful conversations. The best moments were at meals and realizing that it was the first time in awhile where I was eating with friends and phones weren't even on the table. 

Traveling is more than just documenting everything I see with my smartphone and I've really learned to appreciate the beauty of travel when my data disappears. It requires you to get creative and think a little outside of the box. Although it did take making small adjustments to my travel style, it's become comfortable now and I wouldn't want it any other way. I've even started to notice that when I'm in Milan and I do have data, I tend to use my phone less. Learning to disconnect started from a challenge, but quickly turned into a healthy and satisfying habit so I honestly must thank these Italian phone companies for being so difficult to work with. 

From Our Blogs

Jan 19 3:23am

Top 10 Study Abroad Instagram Photos from December 2017 & January 2018

by Natasha Brower

During the past two months, our students (both past and present) have been reflecting on their incredible experiences while studying abroad.

Learn more
Jan 17 1:12pm

What does prepping look like?

by Adaoma Ogbonnaya

Preparing to leave the country for a semester can be hard and stressful. We all deal with that stress in different ways. What to pack is always a tough question because you're not only packing physical things like clothes and products, but also prior knowledge.

Learn more
Jan 16 5:27pm

Here's Good Luck & Away We Go

by Hannah Geller

A sense of familiarity before inevitable uncertainty.

Learn more
Jan 16 3:12pm

Exploring Ireland from East to West

by Madison Weaver

There are two things that I underestimated when I arrived in Ireland: just how much tea the Irish drink, and just how easy it is to travel around the country!

Learn more
Jan 16 2:43pm

So Many Sights In So Little Time

by Peyton

It’s been a little over a week since I first arrived in Quito, and there have already been too many sights and experiences to count. Every Ecuadorian I’ve met so far has been incredibly kind and welcoming, and I can already feel myself falling in love with the culture.

Learn more
Jan 16 10:23am

Research and Passports and Visas, oh my!

by Sarah Craig

Tips and hints about how to approach researching programs, getting a passport, and applying for a visa without your parent's help!

Learn more