It was Albert Einstein who once said, "Look deep into nature, and you will understand everything better."
This past week, I had the opportunity to completely unplug from technology and explore the world around me. As someone who is very conscious about work, money and generally anything else that the typical adult worries about, it was frightening to me to have complete lack of digital connection. Not because I wanted to check Facebook or Instagram. But because I wanted to be "available" to anyone who might have needed me while I was gone.
If you've never unplugged from technology and the world before, you should try it. It's freeing, and it gives you the chance to reflect on your life's choices and reevaluate what's important to you. Here are my five takeaways from a week of living an unplugged life.
1. That high data plan might not be worth it. It's amazing how much you will find to do and talk about when you don't have the option of playing on your phone. A simple dinner conversation, once plagued with conversation where one person is inevitably talking on their phone, can become so much more involved when technology isn't involved. Which begs the question—how much cell phone data do I use that I don't truly need? For me, there's a $30/month cost benefit to going down in data. And that is something I can actionably implement in my budget.
2. The insurance is worth it. I had to rent a car and decided, for the first time, to add the extra insurance. Driving through the mountains, you have no idea what you're in for. Luckily, my credit union offers great discounts and deals with the car rental company I chose, so it made the choice easier.
3. Auto pay, my friends, is also worth it. For some reason, I'm always uncomfortable with putting bills on auto pay. But in this case, I had no option to just pay through an app or mobile website. I had to have every bill paid before I left or else I wouldn't have been able to pay. My auto pay is free—and really saved my bills this past week.
4. Pay attention to who serves the communities you visit. Driving around a small town in southern Utah, I didn't see a single big bank. But you know what I did see? Credit unions ready to serve those communities and travelers who need to get cash or take care of other business for free. The people in these small towns are incredible, and these credit unions see them as much more than just dollar signs.
5. Planning is necessary. You can't leave your plans up to chance when you have no cell phone to quickly Google things to do. You also have to have a general idea of directions, or know how to read a map.
It's humbling to see how much the sense of community and belonging these small town communities have for one another. Being from a larger city smack dab in the middle of the country, it's sometimes challenging to think about how others live. But when you put resources like credit unions and strong small businesses in small towns, everyone thrives. It might take a week of immersive unplugging, but I finally realized how much of a difference a business can make in someone's life.