04/20/2015 11:17 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Travel To-Do List: Pack Your Most Present Self

Picture this: You're in Paris and you're about to visit one of the most iconic museums in the world, The Louvre. Rather than taking in all of its celebrated artwork and discussing each piece with friends, you walk quickly to the "Mona Lisa," snap a selfie and, just like that, you're on your way.

I'm pretty ashamed to admit to it, but this isn't a hypothetical situation - this was me. A younger, more immature version of myself, but me nonetheless. I have the picture to prove it. But the experience? The memories? No, none of that.


Who needs that anyway? In the age of instant gratification in the form of Instagram and Facebook "likes," what you remember tends to shift from the physical moment to the digital reception of that moment captured through the lens of your iPhone.

Think about it: When was the last time you visited a foreign place and simply took it all in? Too often, we don't truly experience the never-before-seen places we visit. Instead, we're busy pulling out our phone to scope out the best angle for a photo. Once we snap the shot, we spend the rest of our time debating the Instagram filter or accompanying caption. This is now our generation's version of "experience" and "memory" as it relates to travel.

So, years after my visit (or lack thereof) to The Louvre, I vow to not make that same mistake twice as I embark on my next adventure, Australia. In this spirit, I pledge to do these three things, which I hope will help me live more in the moment on my trip. A friend told me that on her recent trip to India a number of fellow travelers rushed back to a spot with Wi-Fi access, so I'm guessing that these could be used pretty universally.

1. Pause before I post. It's unrealistic for me to say something so strict as "don't post to social media," so I'm pledging to not post to my social media network until after I leave a certain travel experience. For instance, I will post my favorite photo well after an attraction, so I can be present in the moment.

2. Share only a few highlights on social. I will limit the number of times I post while vacationing. In addition to taking time away from enjoying my travels, I'm positive it annoys the crap out of my friends. Though, it's going to be hard not to rub it in!

3. Discuss what I see with the people I'm with. When I really think about it, it's downright embarrassing that I'm busy checking comments and likes from people thousands of miles from where I am. Who really cares what Jim from high school chemistry class has to say? Instead, I'm going to talk about the experiences of traveling with the people I'm with. In this case, my family.

Now, pack your bags and ditch your social network. It'll be there when you return.