Seven Days Without My iPhone

Category: Weekly Columns

No photo-editing. This image was real! The pilot playing after dropping us off.

Note: This column was written while on vacation – heli-skiing – during the first week of April, 2012. And, in fact it was nine days…

I have just embarked on a heli-skiing trip to the Cariboo Mountains. I chose NOT to bring my iPhone. First, I had thought there was no reception at the lodge. Second, every time I go to Canada I incur stupid charges that piss me off. And, third, I thought it would be a great experiment to go without it.

AAARRRGGGHHH!!! It’s been three hours and I’m going crazy!

No, just kidding. It’s been all day and while I have reached in my pocket for my iPhone a few times, the frequency is diminishing. So far, the biggest problem is knowing the time, since I have become used to checking the time on my iPhone rather than wear a watch, much like most kids do these days. My wife is already regretting that I don’t have the phone because I’m asking her the time all the time!

Just picture snow on those mountains...

It’s the next morning and I had the hotel wake me up. Didn’t even notice the absence of my phone. Am sitting at the laptop and replying to all my email and doing my usual morning routine, which does not require the iPhone. So far, so good.

But I need my coffee and my wife is still putting on her make-up. When I asked how much longer she’d be, she replied, “Go ahead and go down and get your coffee…I’ll be there in a minute.” But NO, I won’t make that mistake. What that really meant is, “Don’t you dare go down and leave me here alone. Wait for me.” I’m not going to fall for that trap! See what happens when you leave your iPhone home!?

It is several hours later and we are on the bus going to the heli-pad where we’ll be flown to the lodge for our week of heli-skiing. I now realize my blunder was not leaving behind my iPhone, but leaving behind my just purchased iPad. What a dummy! The reason is that I tend to approach each new tech device with a bit of trepidation about learning to use them. Given I have an iPhone and MacBookPro AND had two quick lessons on the iPad at the Apple Store, both setting it up and showing me the basics, I most assuredly should have brought it. Heck, the battery life alone would have given me more use on this 7-hour bus ride than my dying laptop. Dumb.

It’s been another 24 hours without my phone. Naturally, it’s getting easier but my wife is quite annoyed at me still asking the time all the time. AND, it turns out there’s cell reception up here in the mountains in the middle of the Cariboo Mountain Range, where we’re staying. I see other people using their phones, talking, laughing, playing, etc. But, other than wanting to share a photo or two, which I can do with my laptop, I’m doing fine.

It’s now at least 72 hours since I last wrote on this column and I haven’t missed my iPhone AT ALL. Yes, I’m spending a lot of time on my laptop, but that is mostly to download videos and photos from our trip. And, I just spoke to my older son via Facebook/Skype and that was cool. He had a few of his buddies over and they could see the mountains in the background behind me.

The part that is so liberating is not feeling the need to check my phone every other minute. Oddly enough, the only thing that I do sort of miss is the clock on my phone.

So, what will re-entry be like?

I have now finished the week without my iPhone. I actually feel like I’ve forgotten all about it. Will I still know how to use it? On this current trip, almost everyone had some sort of tech device that was part of his or her attire.

This was also a week without ANY television. The ONLY video any of us watched were the ubiquitous videos we all took during our incredible days of heli-skiing. I used my GoPro, others had camcorders, and most everyone had a pocket camera that took both video and stills.

I developed a regular routine upon returning from the ski day. I’d download whatever video and still photos I’d taken. With the stills, I quickly went through them and deleted the truly awful ones, named the truly good ones, and left the rest in purgatory to be viewed, edited, and/or printed at some indeterminate time in the future. For more about this trip, read How to Ski Out of This World (lots of great photos and videos within this column).

Could your kids go without television and cell-phones for a week? Could they live without any cell-phone, as I did for a full week? I wonder? For that matter, could you?

I’m ready to return home, but I must admit I’m less ready to resume the lifestyle of overwhelming attachment to all the tech I use. I’m grateful for this break.



  • Carolyn Nicander Mohr

    Hi Bruce, You’re so brave! I’m not talking about the heli-skiing (that’s crazy, lol), but leaving your iPhone and your iPad behind. Actually, maybe that’s crazy too. I use my iPhone for so much more than a phone. I use it as a camera, gaming device, web browser, photo album, GPS, audio device (music, audiobooks and podcasts) and ereader. As your Swiss Army knife comic points out, the device is multi-functional and I would hate to give up that functionality for a day, much less a week.

    I regularly go on vacation where I’m away from the Internet, a/k/a “off the grid,” and do okay cut off from the web. But giving up all of those other functions is another matter.

    Very brave, Bruce. Very brave.

    By the way. love the helicopter picture! 

    • Bruce Sallan

      Thanks Carolyn…some say CRAZY rather than brave re: my skiing. As for the iPhone, I think that was a “noble experiment!”

      • Carolyn Nicander Mohr

        Yes, Bruce, quite noble. Like those who go on Outward Bound, facing the challenges of the wild with very few tools, you gave up an essential tool as you embarked on your adventure. Man vs. nature without tech. Quite impressive.

        • Bruce Sallan

          Yipes, it wasn’t THAT impressive…Impressive was the skiing we did! Especially for this old guy! Impressive is the photo at the top of this column! That pilot landed there JUST FOR FUN!

    • Janet Callaway

      Carolyn, I thought of you as I was reading Bruce’s post. Then, when I saw that great image of the Swiss Army iPhone, I thought I have to tell Carolyn about this. Fortunately, I see you already read this great post.  

      Pretty impressive that Bruce went Cold Turkey, don’t you think?

      • Carolyn Nicander Mohr

        Hi Janet, Yes, very impressive. I have to say, going Cold Turkey without my iPhone would be like fasting for me. Deprivation and I are not friends.

  • Janet Callaway

    Actually, Bruce, I thought your withdrawal was going to be much worse. It seems like you handled it quite well.

    Loved the images in this post.

    • Steve Cassady

      I think he used his GoPro as his technology nicotine patch 🙂

      • Bruce Sallan

        You GOT me Steve…and I have wi-fi for my laptop!

    • Carolyn Nicander Mohr

      I agree, Janet. There are those who would have been curled up in the fetal position sobbing for the duration (me, perhaps?). 🙂

      • Bruce Sallan

        IF I had NO tech at all – no wi-fi – I’d have been a goner. No TV is easy. In fact, I prefer it!

  • Heather

    So what you’re saying is, since my husband refuses to pay apples prices for a new screen and he says that he is going to take my iPhone to a friend to fix, that I will survive for a few days? I’m feeling a bit panicky at the thought of it. I still have my iPad and iPod touch, but it’s my iPhone, the most important of the group!

    • Bruce Sallan

      Yes, you will survive Heather!

  • Amberr Meadows

    I don’t know if I could bear to leave my iPhone behind for an entire week, but I am sorely tempted to unplug for a little while. It looks like you’re having an awesome time, and that photo of the snowy mountains turned out gorgeous. 

    • Bruce Sallan

      I did have an AWESOME time – that word for once really being appropriate. Turning off is probably something we all should do once in a while – maybe even once a week for 24 hours!?

  • Kenna Griffin

    I would have gone crazy. No doubt. I get a little nuts when I’m on an international flight and can’t check in every few minutes. I can do without the TV, but not my phone.

    • Bruce Sallan

      The question is have we all become too dependent on our devices?

  • Abel Pardo

    Very good post with very good photos, nice to share it!!!

    • Bruce Sallan

      Thanks Abel and very nice to “see” you here!

  • AmyMccTobin

    I don’t know what’s crazier: heli-pad skiing or not being connected:)  Always a good read Bruce!

    • Bruce Sallan

      Heli-skiing, FOR SURE!

  • Brian Vickery

    Great pics. We generally have a balance which can frustrate @kfvickery:disqus. If we are vacationing “stateside”, I will generally still check email/social networks, and I have both my laptop and iPhone (and yeah, that iPad).

    However, if we to to Mexico, I still carry the phone for emergencies -> but I turn it off for the entire vacation. I do not even carry the laptop. I might carry the iPad strictly for the music I have on it…will not even try to hit Pandora, etc. The key is to be completely unplugged.

    Needless to say, those are the vacations that leave me more refreshed. Just great family time, several good books, hopefully some tennis/swimming…and perhaps a few drinks and over-indulging on food 😉

    • Bruce Sallan

      Notice how you mention an iPhone, iPad, and laptop. Are we tech or what? Lol…I have all three as well. I don’t WANT to be disconnected but I know it’s good for me and good for my family relationships!

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  • Louis House

    great pictures! great post! I gave it a go over a long weekend…. sad to say, I did not do all that well. Good job! technology has taken over a little too much of “us”. Like they say “Disconnect to Connect”. 

    • Bruce Sallan

      The ONLY way I was able to do it, Louis, was by leaving my phone at home!

      • Louis House

        Correct you are Bruce. Think I will give swapping sim cards 🙂 out of the iphone, into a 1999 nokia LOL. Cheers!

  • netster

    hahahaha I know you miss your phone! don’t lie hahaha (Kidding)

    So you lasted 9 days without an iPhone! Bravo.

    The last time I visited China I was using my BlackBerry and though I carry it with me I didn’t use it. In fact, I question myself why I even bother bring it with me. 

    The only thing I was so busy with was my camera and my constant prayer for my camera battery to last whole day hahaha

    I love this post! lalala

    • Bruce Sallan

      Well, that’s ’cause you STILL have a Blackberry – When are you getting an iPhone, Dude? Not using your BB is easy ’cause there’s little it offers! LOL…

      • netster

        hahahaha I already have my iPhone since last year. 

        BlackBerry Sucks! LOL though I still have to give BB a credit because it was my first smartphone 😀

        • Bruce Sallan

          I’m ALL Apple ALL the way now…just got my first iPad and figuring it out…for some reason, it’s not coming easy though it really is just a big iPhone!

          • netster

            That was my first impression but you’ll learn later it wasn’t the case.

            I use my iPad for movie a lot it was the best media player ever! hahaha

            In fact me and my wife have downloaded lot of children education books, pictures drawing and stuff. 

            The children chinese story book is fantastic! You get to see and listen in two languages (english & Mandarin)

            You will take sometime to find a way to make iPad useful.


          • Bruce Sallan

            Will you come over and give me a lesson? I got a room for you here in L.A.?!

          • netster

            Sounds like a plan! Hahahah 🙂

  • netster

    I wish I was there on the mountain top!

    • Bruce Sallan

      Ha! None of us, except the pilot were on THAT mountain top, but we saw plenty of others…check out the photos in my blog about it all:

  • sneha mehta

    Hey Bruce,

    Happy to know that you survived without much difficulties:) I do not have an iPhone/iPad?Mac 🙂 But once I went for a meditation camp where hone/books/diary/musical instruments nothing was allowed and that was for 10 days for total silence. sometimes it is good just to be with yourself.

    Keep posting..Cheers!

    • Bruce Sallan

      I’m afraid to be with JUST me! Lol…I’d get in trouble, for sure!

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  • David Weber

    I covet a life in which I have no mobile phone. I have a smart phone but have set it up to not receive email.  I have never bought an app.  Actually, the sole reason I bother owning a cell phone is that my mother, who is elderly, is worried that I will be less than available if something bad happens to her and I need to be told.  I would love to go back to the days when mobile phones were very simple talk-and-listen devices.  

    On the other hand, I have not used my land line for a while, and  my land line phone bill needs to be paid.  I do use the mobile phone as my primary phone…well, it and my office phone.

    • Bruce Sallan

      That reminds me, David, when are you next VISITING your mom!

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