Get Offline! 6 Places That Force You to Unplug

Whether they’re monitoring your friendships, finances or even your heartbeat, smartphones are truly miraculous devices. Some of us even use them to make phone calls.

With such dynamic, multifaceted capabilities, it’s no wonder we spend upwards of five hours (or roughly one-third of our time awake) addicted to scrolling, swiping and typing. No, really – there’s a rehab center with a cell phone addiction wing.

Of course, this isn’t necessarily “new” news. Countless studies and health experts tell us to put down our smartphones and re-engage with the world around us. But unplugging is easier said than done, especially when you’re the first to arrive to the bar for happy hour (and feeling a little awkward), waiting in line for something, or simply needing a pick-me-up at work in the form of a hilarious Instagram meme.

That is, until you head down the train platform stairs or try to get service at a crowded concert, those five little bars on your phone turn to one, and you come to the harsh reality that your phone really is just a tiny, glass brick.

Here are seven places (excluding phone addiction rehab centers) that force you to unplug from your smartphone and engage with the world around you.


Leave your phone (and troubles) in your gym bag when you get to class. In fact, most instructors require it. By removing yourself from the outside world, you’ll get to focus on priority number one: improving your fitness.


While most airplanes provide in-flight WiFi, movies and other forms of plugged-in entertainment, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should indulge. Opt for a book or magazine instead, gaze out the window, take a nap, write in a journal, and save the $9 you would’ve paid to connect to a painfully slow network for a stiff mid-flight adult beverage. Or dare we say, put everything down and give yourself a little shut-eye!


Not only is the front seat of your car a great place to unplug, it could save you a costly traffic ticket and, most importantly, a life. Several states (and even more local districts) across the country ban texting while driving all together. Instead, opt for good, old-fashioned FM radio or audio book.


Although turning off your iPhone and setting out for the great outdoors is a perfect way to connect with nature, resist the temptation to go entirely off the grid. Know your limits, pack a GPS, and don’t forget tell a friend where you’re going (and when you’ll be back).

Beach or lake

Not only is taking your phone to the beach or lake a quick way to ensure it will take a plunge (and leave you out of $200), it can also leave your device susceptible to theft when you’re in the water.

Leave your phone at home or in the car and opt to swim, exercise and enjoy time with friends. And if you’re bummed about a lack of photos, try taking a disposable camera. You and your buds can laugh at the horrendously (and hilariously) un-photogenic outtakes once they’re developed.  

Festivals or concerts

When the music is pounding, you’re going face-first into a pile of cheesy fries and having a blast with your closest pals, checking to see how many “likes” your festival outfit received on Instagram should be the last thing on your mind. Not to mention, most concert- or festival-goers will be swarming over the measly service connection. So best to save your scroll time (and battery life) for that Uber home.

Julia Sullivan is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. When she's not picking heavy things up and setting them down again (more commonly known as weight lifting), trying to prepare healthy meals in her doll-sized Manhattan studio or writing about the latest fitness craze, she chronicles her zany adventures as a new New Yorker in her blog, Jules & the City. You can also follow her on Twitter.