We’re giving up our phones for a week and then we’re throwing a big party


For the next seven days, we’re giving up our phones. Seriously.

The next segment of our Away is Home family travel blog starts tomorrow morning when we drive up to Pensacola, Fla. We’re headed north, to Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Washington and North Carolina. And for part of the journey, we’re going to do it phone-free.

Or at least we’re going to try.

This isn’t the first time we’ve given up our cellular devices. I asked if it was possible a few months ago. Then I tried it during the Fourth of July week.

It worked pretty well.

Now comes the real test. Can we give up cellular phone service during a work week?

First, a little disclosure: our family travel blog is sponsored in part by Skype, so we definitely have a horse in this race. (But you know me. When has that ever stopped me from telling the truth?)

During the next week, I will report back to you exactly what happens when you disconnect your cellular service. Let me be a little more specific: by “disconnect” I mean go without voice communication offered by our wireless provider. I’ll continue to use our unlimited AT&T data service as long as there’s adequate reception.

Some of our calls will be made exclusively through Skype, but others may or may not use Skype. For example, I have colleagues who strongly prefer to use another service to chat. I can’t stop them from contacting me that way.

Also, I can’t not talk about the way they attempted to communicate with me. That just wouldn’t be sporting now, would it?

The point of this exercise is to show that it’s either possible — or impossible — to completely sever your cellular service without also unplugging from the world.

OK, so here are the ground rules: no outgoing phone calls, no incoming phone calls. Any voice communication from our end will happen via Skype. We will leave other applications open in case someone wants to contact us that way. We’ll also check voicemail.

And there’s a waiver for any emergency that might crop up along the trip. So, for example, if we have a flat tire, we are not going to fire up Skype to try to make a phone call to AAA. We will use our normal phones.

Every day for the next week, we’ll weigh in with our observations about life without a phone. Will describe the ups, the downs, the ins, the outs, the frustrations and the triumphs of going phone-free.

If you’d prefer a more real-time assessment of how this experiment is running, you can follow us on Twitter. The hashtag we’re using for this journey is #nophone and if you follow the Awayishome or Elliott Twitter accounts you’ll see it a lot next week.

Oh, and one more thing: next Sunday we’ll be hosting a Twitter #nophone party, where you can ask us anything about our phoneless adventure the previous week. You can also commiserate with us about lousy cellular phone service, rip-off data plans, or anything else that troubles you about the state of wireless communication today.

Ask us anything. Really.

If that’s not a good enough reason to come to come to this virtual party, then how about this? Our sponsors (we love ‘em) have given us a cache of prizes that we are going to freely distribute among our beloved followers. You don’t even have to be there on Sunday evening to win. Just submit your own irreverent question about giving up your phone, or losing it, between now and next Sunday, and you could qualify to win.

The #nophone party starts next Sunday at 5 p.m. Eastern time. It’s going to be a crazy week. Thanks for joining us.

Want to make a bet that we can stay off our phones? Vote now. Go on.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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