The Day Without a Phone Challenge with Batteries Plus Bulbs

For today’s post, I’m collaborating with Batteries Plus Bulbs. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Sara Laughed possible!

There was a time where you couldn’t pay me to remember my phone. I forgot it at home, lost it in my backpack, or left it in the pocket of my jeans when I did the laundry (rest in peace, my beloved LG Chocolate). But that time is long-gone, and now you’ll almost never see me without it nearby. I use my phone for everything — not just calling people, but looking up directions, listening to music, or sending emails. It’s become a major part of my life and essential to my everyday routine, which is why I was really excited to team up with Batteries Plus Bulbs.

Since my phone is such a staple, it’s important to me that if it breaks, it gets fixed as soon as possible. What I like about Batteries Plus Bulbs is how quickly they can fix your phone — if you head to one of their We Fix It® Repair Centers, you can be in and out in as quick as an hour, whether you need to replace speakers, a battery, or (let’s be honest with ourselves here) a cracked screen. They can also repair a ton of devices, from headphones to tablets to Samsung phones or iPhones, and you can even save $10 when you book online. If your phone or another device is broken, be sure to check them out!

What stood out most to me most, though, was that quick fix time. I’ve been in situations where I had to wait days to get a phone fixed, and living without it can be such a hassle. Especially because my phone is such an important part of my life now, I wanted to challenge myself to live without it for a full day, just to test how important Batteries Plus Bulbs’ turn around really is.

I decided to have my phone-free day on a weekend so I wouldn’t need to use my phone as an alarm clock. Ken and I woke up around mid-morning, had breakfast at home, and then headed to the train station to travel to the Hague for the day. I left my phone on my bedside table.  Ken and I made a bet: I thought I wouldn’t get antsy until lunchtime, but he said he didn’t think I’d make it through the train ride. (Insulting but accurate.)

When we got to the train station, I wanted to use my phone to check which platform we should go to. Without it, we relied on the overhead boards to tell us where to go. On the platform, while we waited ten minutes or so for our train to arrive, I reached into my pocket to grab my phone for music — but, obviously, it wasn’t there. But on the train, I started getting used to the challenge – rather than read the news or message with my friends on my iPhone, I chatted with Ken about our plans for the week, what he was reading, and what I was hoping to do in the Hague.

It was actually really nice — I had thought that I would be a little bored or frustrated without being online all morning, but I didn’t find it as challenging as I had thought. Once we got to the Hague, Ken and I wandered through some of the shopping streets, going into thrift stores to look for sweaters and flannels. For lunch, went to the central plaza to eat nachos, and from there, we wandered through bookstores and made our way to the Mauritshuis Museum.

It was around this time that I started feeling kind of anxious. The museum was beautiful, and because I had never been to this one before, I was able to see some incredible Vermeer and Rembrandt painting for the first time. But when Ken and I got separated, I realized I didn’t have a way to reach him, and that I would have a hard time getting back to the train station if I got lost. I also hadn’t checked my email all day, and I would hate to miss something important, either for work or from my family.

Ken and I found each other again and walked through the second and third floors of the museum before making our way out. We were scheduled to have dinner with his parents that night, and if we went straight from the train station to their house, I wouldn’t be able to check my email or social media on my laptop at home, and would have to wait until 8 or 9. So I made my case to Ken that we should stop at home before heading to his parents, and he agreed.

Luckily, there were no important messages or emails waiting for me when I came back — but that fear made me realize that I was addicted to my phone in more ways than one. It wasn’t just that I liked being able to use it for music, messaging, and directions. It was also that having it with me made me feel more connected to the rest of the world. Without it, I was able to experience things a little more deeply: chatting with Ken on the train, having fun in the thrift store, and staying focused on the art at the Mauritshuis. But it was also inconvenient to not be reachable or be able to reach anyone in case of an emergency or even just an important reminder. If I had had to wait days for a repair, that inconvenience could have become a real problem.

For many people, a day without a phone might not be a challenge at all, but for me, it was pretty eye-opening. It showed me how much I rely on my phone for the little things, like going to the right platform at the train station, and how important it is to be reachable when big things do happen. But it was also a great chance to see how beautiful life offline can be: Ken and I had a great time in the Hague, and I was more present than I might have been otherwise. Going forward, I want to make sure that I’m reachable for the important stuff, but present for the things that matter. I guess my next challenge will be finding that balance.

Sara Laughed

Author: Sara Laughed

I'm Sara, a writer, programmer, and American in the Netherlands. This blog is about my life, discoveries, and mistakes. Follow along, and thank you for stopping by!

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  • I’ve really been loving your posts lately, Sara! This is such an interesting idea, I feel like I would constantly get a panicked feeling that I lost my phone or that something might happen to me, even though it’s a bit irrational…there have been few times where my phone has actually been needed to deal with an emergency!

    • Thanks so much, Paige! I’ve been creating content I’m really excited about lately, and I’m glad it shows. It was definitely surprising to see how antsy I got without my phone, so I’m totally with you — especially on needing it for emergencies!

  • Oh my goodness, I honestly dont think I could ever enjoy leaving my phone at home, especially while site seeing or traveling! Not because I feel the need to be on social media or my email but because I love researching things as I see them, and looking up new things as we go! You go girl- that would be a tough day for me!

  • I bet I would be fine for awhile — I’m not so hooked on social media like I used to be. But I hate not knowing if something happened and nobody would be able to get a hold of me or something. I worry about every.single.thing!
    xo, Lily
    Beauty With Lily

  • Lately, I have been spending a lot of time on my phone and getting more bored with it every minute. Scrolling through Instagram, refreshing Facebook, even getting back on Twitter and I’m never super engaged with my phone, or whatever is happening around me. Just half distracted all over the place. I should try a day without a phone to break this obsession!

  • It’s so hard for me to be without my phone! Even if it’s something so simple like to check the weather app. Or music! Sometimes I feel like I need to this challenge more often!

  • People joke that I should get my phone surgically attached to my hip since I always have it on me! I feel like a day without it would be hard, but it would be so rewarding!

  • I have currently been two weeks (going on three) without a phone. It’s so hard, but it also made me realize how dependent I was with my phone. Since not having it, I have been way more attentive to the people and things around me.