(Qtravel) Are you glancing at your phone every five to 10 minutes (if not more frequently) or maybe (like me) staring at a computer screen for hours on end? Or perhaps you are constantly on Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest and Instagram are you home away from home. You are in need of a digital detox!
Thanks to a complete inability to moderate our own behaviour surrounding digital devices, a new “digital detox” travel trend is being marketed to the masses.
At the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica in Peninsula Papagayo, guests can trade their phones for tech-free activities, including Latin dance classes or a sunset catamaran cruise. At Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire in England, guests are asked to surrender their devices in return for detox smoothies and Sodashi therapy. At Nayara Springs, located in Arenal you can enroll the Digital Detox package, where you’ll either surrender your tech devices to the hotel staff for safekeeping or store them away in your room’s safe.
In 2012, the entire country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines tried to entice travellers with a techfree package that excluded phones, the Internet and televisions, but included access to a life coach and a guide (ironically, digital) to taking a break from tech.
Intrepid Travel (one of the world’s biggest tour operators) just announced a new package of digital-free tours – to North Morocco, Ecuador, India and Thailand – that require participants to sign an agreement that they won’t text or even take pictures for the duration of the trip. “In turn, participants will be rewarded with a connection they could never find through Wi-Fi,” promises a press release.
Amanda Williams, a blogger based in Ohio, tried Intrepid’s eight-day Ecuador on a Shoestring tour – from Quito to the Amazon jungle in Banos – and she swore off her smartphone, laptop and camera for the duration. “The experience forced me to look at my usage of technology and call it an addiction,” says Williams. Despite enjoying a vacation from her selfie, she acknowledges that there were parts of the trip when she wanted to communicate her experience. “I wanted to Snapchat from the end of a hike that overlooked the most incredible valley in Banos,” she says. “But I quickly realized that I could tell all those things once I got home.”
So much of the satisfaction we get from a trip is capturing memories, and reporting those details back to friends and family – increasingly, over social media. A recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests that taking pictures can even help us to engage with an experience in a more meaningful way. But that seems to suggest some moderation, and not the chronic attachment to screens so many of us exhibit.
“It’s nice to see life through a camera because you get to record it for reflection,” says Jessica Renshaw of Virtuoso-affiliated agency Renshaw Travel in Vancouver. “But you have to think about the intention of the trip. If it’s to reconnect with friends or family, observing everything through a screen might not be the best way to do it.”
Julia Buckley, a journalist based in Cornwall, England, tried a digital detox in the Umbrian countryside in 2015, and she initially floundered while trying to recall how one conducts oneself in the absence of digital paraphernalia. “I was literally climbing up the walls that first night,” she says. “I went to bed at 7:30 p.m.” But eventually, she realized that the absence of constant activity was the point. “I completely relaxed,” she says. “Everything felt calm, like I was really immersed in the landscape. I could focus on the sound of this stream about a half a mile down the road and if I was on my computer, I would have missed it. I was actually watching clouds.”
Sources: Ottawa Sun, Intrepid Travel, Lonely Planet, Vogue,
This article does not promote any travel service or travel destination. It is not a paid advertorial!