It was the perfect trip: 10 days in France and Italy with one of my best friends from college. I’d just gotten an iPhone 6 before leaving. Life was good: when we got lost, Apple Maps put us on the right path; Snapchats and Instagrams could be posted instantly; Google could answer any question about a landmark we had.
Then disaster struck.
On an early morning bus to the airport in Paris, I left my new phone behind. After frantically going back through security to see if I had left it at the check-in counter, I resigned to my fate and boarded the plane to Italy, phone-less.
Since my phone was also my camera, on our first morning in Florence, I bought a disposable camera. I now had 25 pictures to take in the next five days. Twenty-five pictures with no guarantee that they would turn out. Twenty-five pictures to capture the memories I wanted to save. I had to actually think carefully about what I wanted a picture of and spend a little extra time composing them. There would be no deleting bad pictures or unlimited storage. There would be no uploading to Instagram, either.
More and more, when we go on holiday, we’re more concerned with getting the most Instagram-worthy snap than enjoying the sights in real time. More people died from using their selfie sticks this year than from shark attacks. These selfie-related deaths were so prevalent that the Russian government released a campaign in hopes of preventing anymore and the European Union considered criminalizing selfies at famous landmarks. While losing my phone was a hassle, it allowed me to be present with the sights of Rome and Florence. I engaged with everything; there was no distraction, no constant need to pull out my phone and take a picture, no texting friends back home and missing sights as I walked along. In the end, I may not have 500 pictures from my five days in Italy, but I do have 25 thoughtful pictures. Twenty-five pictures that I took for me to remember, not to share with everyone else. Here are some of the best.