I lost my iPhone on a dream vacation and it wasn’t a nightmare | Digital Trends

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Our trip to Spain and Morocco, which my wife Julie had meticulously planned for 15 months, got off to a rather inauspicious start on June 25th. After arriving in Chicago from Portland, Oregon, we learned that our connecting flight to Newark, New Jersey had been canceled due to weather issues. As we waited in line for two and a half hours to speak to a United Airlines agent, a customer service rep told us via text message that we could be stuck in the Windy City for two days.

A Spanish teacher for 30 years, Julie was on the verge of fulfilling a lifelong dream of visiting Spain. Now, several activities were in danger of being crossed off her bucket list as her worst fears about her trip were being realized. When we finally got to the service desk, our hope was all but extinguished. We explained the situation to the agent, who spent several minutes looking at his computer without speaking. She finally looked up and said can I get out on a flight tonight.

In Newark? Julia asked.

No, he replied, across the Atlantic.

Julie burst into tears of joy and I asked the agent if he liked cheesecake, as there was a kiosk selling it within walking distance. He said no, but added that her wife did. Well, I said, your wife is having cheesecake tonight.

A couple of hours later we were on a flight to Brussels. We would then head to Madrid and only had to arrive nine hours late. All was right in the world until I had an eerie realization just as I was about to savor an honest Belgian waffle at the Brussels airport. My iPhone was nowhere to be found.

I was without my phone for three weeks and didn’t miss much.

After frantically rummaging through my bags, gasping back in our tracks, and finally making a mad dash through security to speak to an airport official, I realized that my phone was gone and that I was going to be lucky to see it again. Strangely, a calmness descended upon me. As we were walking back to our gate, I turned to Julie and said matter-of-factly: screw it. I won’t let this ruin our vacation.

Now, as an admittedly anxious person who normally freaks out and is obsessed with things like this, that was a bold statement. But I’m proud to say that I stayed true to my word. More surprising than that, though, is that I was without a phone for three weeks and didn’t miss much.

It is not a big deal

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Perhaps it was the flurry of activity Julie had planned that distracted me from not having my phone or the fact that I also brought along my new iPad (which I somehow managed not to lose) but never missed my iPhone 12 during the 17 day trip. Before setting off on our adventures each day, I’d open the iPad to check my email, Facebook, our bank account (I’m a glutton for punishment), and how my fantasy baseball teams fared the previous day. I will no longer check my phone every few minutes out of my habit.

For obvious reasons, Julie took care of taking the photos, and if I wanted a particular shot, I’d just ask for her phone and snap. I also texted my adult daughter and son and told them what had happened and to text Julie if they needed to reach out to me.

Perhaps the most annoying aspect (for Julie) was that I hadn’t brought my Apple Watch with me (for fear of losing it, ironically), so I was always asking her for the time. All in all, this is a minor inconvenience.

A liberating feeling

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Perhaps the most unforeseen consequence of not having my phone for an extended period has been the feeling of being released from a vaguely overwhelming compulsion. With no phone constantly at hand, nagging questions like Has anyone written? or are the Yankees winning? (these days, the answer to that question is probably No) it doesn’t come to mind that much. And it takes a lot more effort to fetch my tablet or sit at my laptop to discover those answers, which results in me fixating less on these things in general.

Another unexpected benefit of losing my phone was that it allowed me to immerse myself in the moment as we visited such impressive sites as the Alhambra, an ancient palace and walled complex in Granada, Spain, and not worry about taking pictures of every single thing we saw. I was really impressed with Julie, who learned that lesson without having to lose her phone. Several times during the trip, even while we were sitting on camels watching the sunset in the Moroccan desert of Agafay, she put her camera away and said, “Now, I’m going to take all of this.”

The loss of my phone also led to many meaningful conversations with Julie and other travelers that might not otherwise have happened because, let’s face it, for all their positive aspects, smartphones have a detrimental effect on human interaction. We ate out at restaurants a lot on our trip and I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen people sitting at their tables staring at their damn phones instead of talking to each other.

A new leaf?

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So when my phone turns on I’m convinced it’s still lurking under the seat 42K or am I forced to get a new one, am I going to be a changed man? The juries are still out on that one.

After using smartphones for nearly a decade, these habits are hard to let go of, but I sure hope so. Why? Despite the fact that my phone only weighs grams, it feels like a major weight has been lifted off me.

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