Back to the Land of the Connected

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Day 360: Huarango, Chile

I have always been over connected. I spent too much time online at home and now here in Latin America, so much that I have self-imposed detox periods.

To my credit, I have managed to travel almost one year without a phone.

Throughout Central America it was really easy. I don’t think I ran into a single situation that it was required.

I embraced it. I loved it. When I heard a ringtone I didn’t so much as flinch. I knew the call was not for me.


But South America has been a bit more challenging. Couchsurfing hosts want to pick me up at the bus station and fellow travelers want to meet up. Once I stood up Mica because I emailed her I couldn’t have lunch but she had already left her apartment.

That’s what happens when you mobile-less.

Mobile-less until today.

Each day Coca told me what I was going to do. Today I was going into town to buy a phone. I didn’t question her. I knew better. I knew the freedom from cellular waves was only momentary anyway.

It was time.

There are more than a few people I want to meet up with in Chile and Argentina. In order to make plans, to meet up, to function as a normal person I need a phone.

And I was surprised at how cheap it was. For $30 I received a new plastic LG phone with a $20 phone credit.

A phone for $10? I can dig it.

Join the Conversation

  1. Sweet! We got a phone in Thailand too.. mostly just so we could call our friend who we were staying with.

    It’s been a lifesaver!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It has already been great. I have to say I am happy I finally bought one.

  2. hi* Ayngelina~ it can be so liberating not to be connected 😀
    I will never go back to contract cell phones again, and no fancy gadgets to lose for me either.
    basic phone, when needed, that’s it.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’m so tempted by the iPhone but I would lose it and I don’t want to worry about it being stolen. No one wants my $10 phone.

  3. Nomadic Chick says:

    Shite, I miss my iPhone. Stupid, toothless Indian man.

    I like this Coco.

    $10 is a sweet deal!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I would be upset about an iPhone too, it’s not a phone it’s a lifestyle 🙂

  4. It’s sad if you think about how attached we are to our phones. I do want to be cellphone-less for a time but I think I would have withdrawal symptoms. I don’t know how you survived that long!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      In the beginning you think you hear your ringtone all the time and then you realize you are crazy.

  5. cheryl howard says:

    Good for you! I want to become less reliant on my cell phone eventually. I actually sleep with my Blackberry beside me.


    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Crackberries are the worst. I will never have one. Never.

  6. I hear you on having freedom without the phone, but you are right to pick one up. Especially for the kind of travel you do (slow travel, trying to connect with people), I feel that it’s really helpful. On my last trip, I bought a ten dollar phone and then just switched out sim cards depending on where I was at. Turned out to be a really good idea. If you were just blazing through countries and only doing sight seeing type stuff then I could totally understand, ditch the phone.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I do feel better knowing if I go to meet someone and get lost or run late I can just text them and they don’t have to wonder where I am.

  7. Dalene - Hecktic Travels says:

    We went through all of our travels in South America without one – it was sweet, sweet freedom. When we went back to Canada we fought the urge to get one (it was so hard, there are NO pay phones anymore!) Now in Honduras, our home owner insisted we get one even though we fought fought fought against it.

    I don’t want one! When we leave, we will not be getting another…I like being unreachable, give us an air of mystery – HA!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s why I bought the cheapest one, I don’t want to become attached to it and I’ll use it as little as possible.

  8. Yay!!! Back to land of the connected!!! Shit, I might just have to call you now.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Only texts! Calls are way too expensive 🙂

  9. I think I am – again – the crazy one out. I have a triband cell phone which I have had many years, but…it’s always switched off, because I hate the ring tone and being called when it is unsuitable. However, I consider it my emergeny measure, I only use it when I really need it and as it is triband it has never let me down anywhere in the world.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Not crazy at all Inka.

  10. Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_ says:

    My parents hounded me to get an international phone before I left (being the youngest of 3 girls and heading to travel the world alone, I guess they were slightly nervous).
    I refused but like you ended up getting on in New Zealand because of wanting to meet up with people.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’m at the point where I’m meeting people that aren’t in my hostel, it’s far too difficult to coordinate when you have to do it through email. I’m lucky Mica still talks to me after she waited an hour at the square in Cusco for me.

      1. Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_ says:

        haha you jerk! And I know, same thing happened to me when I was trying to meet up with an extended uncle in Lima. It’s so frustrating.

  11. Christine says:

    It’s great having less of “phone.” I had an iPhone at home that I was constantly on–texting, Facebooking, checking my emails, playing on apps. In France, I had a super cheap prepaid phone–and it was great! I literally only used it to make plans with friends by texting or calling, and the rest of the time, it stayed in my bag. I have a phone that lets me check emails in Australia, but I’m still not on it nearly as much as I was at home. It’s so liberating just to have a phone that ONLY functions as a phone–although I will say, if it wasn’t only on contract, I would get an iPhone…I have such app envy.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I would love an iPhone but it’s my fear I’d just play on it all day too. I’m bad enough with my netbook!

  12. I have a shitty old cell and all I do is buy sim cards. They are really cheap in most countries.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’m shocked at how inexpensive it is, although apparently to text but not to call, calling is expensive.

  13. Lauren Fritsky says:

    That’s impressive you’ve made it a year without a phone! How do you feel about the travelers who are always on their iPhones or other new-fangled devices and constantly messaging, going online, Tweeting their location. etc.?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Ha who was it that tweeted from a horse, I think it was Kyle, it made me laugh because she realized she was a bit crazy.

  14. I lived in Chile for a year and a half with no phone (actually until December of 2010 so very recently). I even ran a business with only Seba’s cell phone, which we rarely used.

    I loved it.

    Now I have an iPhone which I love to use the internet but I try to avoid giving out the actual number as much as possible!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Kyle you are one of the reasons I decided to get a phone, too many people in Santiago to see to not have a phone.

  15. How could you spend a whole year without a phone?? I would die!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It is so much easier than you think although you annoy a whole lot of people.

  16. You know I thought I would die with out a cell phone but um less than 2 months into my trip & yeah I fucking love not having one. I really just love it. I don’t think I would get one again unless I am back home.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I loved not having one in Central America but now with locals its so tough.

  17. it’s definitely bizarre going back to having a phone after not having one for so long.

    I bought a sim card in india that worked in my iphone (I could even check my email…anywhere in India!!).

    It took me ages to start making local calls with it instead of just sending international SMS, but when I did, it was a lifesaver. I could get lost looking for a guesthouse and call the place only to have the owner tell me to stay where I was so he could come and pick me up on his motorbike…that’s one experience I would have missed out on otherwise 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s already paid off. I was being met at the bus station and couldn’t find the person. I had emailed them my number in advance and what do you know, they called me 🙂

  18. In a strange way, having a phone can make you more a part of the landscape. You have a phone like everyone else who lives there!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Absolutely, when I told locals I didn’t have a phone they thought I was crazy.

  19. My favorite thing about being unconnected while traveling, is getting reconnected again once I’m back home. 😉

  20. Welcome back to the land of the connected (um, sort of, since you’ve somewhat been connected online!)

    Life and social relationships have evolved… it turns out today is difficult to live without a cellphone.

    I wonder, How did I manage to live without a cellphone 10 years ago?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I have always been uber connected and yet somehow resist the phone. I think it’s because going online is own my terms but a cellphone invades my life if that makes sense.

  21. I have been phoneless for almost 6 months now, and I love it. But now that I’m trying to make a life in Buenos Aires, I’m also feeling the pressure to get one. I went to the phone store the other day and got all the info…. but when am I going to suck it up and buy it?

    Probably when I stand up a friend for lunch 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The longer I stayed somewhere and started making plans the more I realized I really needed one. I won’t be on it much but it’s really needed.

  22. I don’t have a cell phone and I am so loving it. I just don’t want to be reachable all the time. Glad Coca doesn’t know me 😉
    But I give in when I go back to Switzerland – for the same reason you just discribed -it’s hard to keep up with friends and family without it and public phones become less and less available or ar not there when needed. The price for mine was about the same – incredible.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I do love only being accessible when I want to be although back in Canada I was infamous for not picking up my phone.

      1. Glad to hear I am not the only one that ot always picks up the phone 😉

  23. I got an iPhone when I moved to Germany and I love the GPS, it gives me more freedom to just wander, knowing if I really get lost I have my handy GPS just a few taps away, but I know what you mean about the freedom. I hardly ever talk on my phone.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well the good news is that actually talking on the phone is expensive so I won’t be using it often, just to make plans and mostly texting.

  24. Cornelius Aesop says:

    I’m surprised I never bought a phone while living in Rio for 4 months. I’ll probably have to give in and buy one when I move to Peru for a few months. Especially if I want to try and earn some extra cash on the side teaching English.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Definitely if you are looking for work a phone will make it easier but the good news is that it’s really cheap in Peru.

  25. kira permunian - Best SEO says:

    Whoa, first time to get here in your lovely blog. I really your template over here so neat and clean.

    Today, it’s gonna be strange to be not connected. I believe we’re now one and near through the advancement of communications.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks so much.

      I agree technology has been great for so many things – I rely on Skype heavily. But I’m not sure technology has made us more connected or just given us different ways to communicate.

  26. Mobile phones have great deals. However, not sure why they are so expensive in the US! Believe it or not, I am not big on technology (even though I work in IT) but a cell phone is great to have when traveling.

  27. You got a phone for only 10 dollars?!?!?!?! holy hell- amazing!! We were lucky we had a phone in Beijing when we were stuck outside a subway at 1am and it was no longer in service! ek- could have been scary, but we were able to find our way. Sometimes modern conviences are really nice!

  28. Lorna - the roamantics says:

    great deal! and made me think of how sometimes to make life simpler, we have to lose the phone for awhile, and other times it simplifies our life to have it. seems like you’ve made the right choice for both situations. cudos to you for unplugging for as long as you did!

  29. I love the freedom of not having a cell phone!! But you’re right, these days it can only be temporary…

    Happy Travels!

  30. Yeah, I’ve found having a phone is really useful for meeting up with Couchsurfing hosts and other travelers. Though, really, I’ve only needed and used mine in a handful of countries.

  31. I don’t have a cellphone, never have. And where I’m going they aren’t needed. Isolation, getting away from it all, camping under the stars, cooking over a campfire in Namibia is bliss…until someone wants to climb the hill to chat to her boyfriend.

    1. Erwin Konig says:

      I do have a cellphone, but love it when it displays “No Network Coverage”

      1. Ayngelina Author says:

        There is something delightful about being completely unreachable.

    2. Ayngelina Author says:

      I feel the same way and unfortunately everyone and their teenage kid has a phone here, you just cannot escape it.

  32. Bluegreen Krik says:

    Wow I couldnt go that long without a phone. I am always connected somehow or some way. Whether its my phone or internet I try to always make myself available, just in case.

  33. Another joy of south america – cheap phones! But, you do have to buy every little minute from the cards. Glad you are now connected my friend. I’m only working off wifi 🙂

  34. I haven’t traveled for more than 3 weeks at a time (yet!) so I haven’t worried about not having a cell phone when I travel, but on a RTW I’ll have to figure out something I’m sure. A $10 phone sounds awesome!

  35. DTravelsRound says:

    I was cell phone-less for most of my trip. There were a few times when I needed it, but for the most part, it was nice to not have it. However – being without a cell was not by choice. I unlocked my blackberry (cut off internet) and got a Spanish SIM. However, my account was pre-paid, so the only time I could use it was to call Spain, receive calls or texts. So, it was kinda pointless. And, I didn’t speak good enough Spanish to top-up when I wasn’t in the country … and I didn’t want to get a new SIM.

  36. I do wonder what I’m going to be like with my phone when I head over to South America. At the moment, ashamedly, I’m a bit of a phone addict – I couldn’t live without my Blackberry. I’m hoping this trip is going to change all of that.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I didn’t miss it at all but I’ve always refused to get a Blackberry, and now a few weeks later I’m glad I have a phone but I only use it from time to tome to text.

  37. Justin Hamlin says:

    As connected as I am to my phone, I would love to give it up….

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I had no issues giving it up, was absolute freedom, but now having one is a bit more liberating. Weird how that is.

  38. Definitely phone can make tweet up/meet up easier. The other day we were going to meet up with our friend in Madrid, and it was our first day there so we didn’t have a phone number yet (okay, we rarely do anyway, haha). We told her we will be there in 20 minutes, but the walking and bus ride was much longer than we predicted (should have taken Metro instead). She ended up waiting for 40 minutes on the road, and she happened to dress up for a hot summer day when it was chilly. Her hand was freezing cold when we reached her. Phone would have made a difference.

  39. My favorite phone is my trusty galaxy note 2! I can load up on extra batteries so I can usually get by for one week without ever charging any more, also I can get up to 64 gb of extra storage with a micro sd card, lots of room for pictures and music that i’ll be listening to.. I’ve tried Iphone, then I quickly realized it’s no good for travelling, switched to my current note phone and haven’t looked back, it made a lot of difference! try it you will see

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