When was the last time you disconnected from your devices? If you can’t remember how long it’s been since you took a break from your smartphone, tablet and computer, you’re likely in need of a digital detox trip.
We live our lives immersed in a digital world. The Pew Research Center says 73 percent of us are online daily. One in five people admits to being online “almost constantly.” And a U.K. study found people spend almost three hours a day online.
Studies show being perpetually connected negatively impacts our productivity and relationships. It also hurts our physical and mental health. Always being “on” has been linked to anxiety, depression, stress and exhaustion.
One of the best ways to escape the frenzy of our always-on society is to take a digital detox trip. It’s a relatively new concept, as the phrase “digital detox” debuted in the Oxford Dictionary only in 2013. And it’s a hot trend among travelers craving an escape from it all. How you do it: Leave your devices at home, surrender them to your hotel’s front desk, or pledge to use them only in a limited way during your travels. Perhaps you spend one hour a day online, or alternate days with and without access.
Benefits of a digital detox trip
You’ll give yourself the gift of time
Did you know the average person checks their phone 46 times a day? And the American Psychological Association says 44 percent of employees check email while on vacation. Emails, texts and the like are time thieves. They distract you from your precious time in another place.
You’ll be more productive
You might think checking work emails will help you deal with the influx once you’re back in the office. But you’ll actually be able to engage better with work upon your return if you truly disconnect during your digital detox trip.
You’ll feel less overwhelmed
People feel better once they eliminate the stress of always being connected. Getting rid of constant interruptions and distractions will energize you.
You’ll be more aware
On trips, we’re so preoccupied with snapping photos for Instagram that we forget to enjoy the moment. Without the need to capture everything for social media right then and there, we can look at our surroundings with fresh eyes and just be present. We can enjoy the experience more deeply, and bring home more vivid memories as a result.
You’ll have more perspective
Being constantly online fragments our attention. We’re so busy responding instantly that we don’t let our brains slow down. You’ll have more time to look at the big picture and contemplate.
Digital detox trip tips
Spend time in nature
There’s no better antidote to the constant hum of online life than the great outdoors. Take a walk through the woods. Relax on a beach. Picnic in a garden.
Paddle on a lake. Take a swim or go snorkeling or scuba diving (as it’s especially hard to review the latest social media posts when you’re immersed in water). In particular, keep your hands busy to lessen the temptation to check your phone.
Be conscious of your surroundings
Use your five senses to observe your environment. Notice details about what you experience: the scent of a flower, the vivid coloring of a bird, the sound of a waterfall.
Focus on relaxation
Book a massage or other spa service. Take a yoga or meditation class. Sleep in late or take a nap. Lose yourself in an actual book or magazine instead of obtaining all your news from the internet.
Pick a remote destination
Somewhere without good Wi-Fi reception is ideal. Even if you’re in a more populated location, choose a hotel that offers an escape from your technology.
Where to go for your digital detox trip
Rancho La Puerta Fitness Resort and Spa, Tecate, Mexico
Retreat to the peaceful atmosphere of Rancho La Puerta, just three miles south of the U.S. border. Cell phones are verboten in public areas (and service is very limited even in guest casitas). The rooms lack TVs, and only a handful of lounges offer Wi-Fi. Instead, the 3,000-acre resort encourages guests to focus on well-being of the body, mind and spirit. Reconnect with nature by hiking more than 25 miles of trails and wandering the 32 acres of gardens. Enjoy more than 70 indoor and outdoor activities, ranging from yoga to art to cooking to strength training.
Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa, Oetker Collection, Baden-Baden, Germany
The hotel’s Villa Stephanie suites provide a digital detox haven. Just press a button from the bedside table, and the entire room disconnects from Wi-Fi. Specially coated copper plates embedded in each room’s walls block electronic signals. To relax and rejuvenate, hotel guests can also indulge in a variety of spa, wellness and even medical treatments. A lounge with an extensive library provides alternatives to reading on your device. The hotel’s lovely setting along the banks of the Oos River in the foothills of the Black Forest also provides a get-away-from-it-all atmosphere. Guests can explore the hotel’s landscaped parkland on biking and hiking trails.
El Silencio Lodge & Spa, Bajos del Toro, Costa Rica
Nestled in 500 acres of cloud forest highlights, El Silencio immerses its guests in nature. You won’t find Wi-Fi in most suites (although you will in the villas). But for those jonesing for a connection, it’s available in a conference room. You won’t find TVs in the suites, either. Instead you’ll enjoy a variety of eco-adventures and cultural experiences. Plant a tree to help offset carbon emissions. Hike through hummingbird gardens and cloud forest trails. Learn to cook or paint in traditional Costa Rican styles. You’ll also detox physically at the resort’s farm-to-table restaurant, featuring its own organic vegetables. Naturally, El Silencio is non-smoking, in keeping with its wellness focus.