Well, we did it! We survived our digital detox experience. Did we go the whole 14 days without connecting the Internet? Heck no! We’re not that strong willed. But we did manage to limit our Internet use and recognize how dependent we are on being online!
If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, here’s a little recap: Intel Security sent us on a digital detox vacation to test our Internet addiction. We chose a 2 week cruise across the Atlantic (you can read all about our pre-trip thoughts about unplugging from technology).
The Digital Detox Challenge
These were the conditions of the challenge:First week we go cold turkey. No Internet allowed! We each got to choose one non-Wi-Fi gadget however. I chose my Kindle and Jules used his iPhone for music.
Second week we get online for only 1 hour a day between us to check work and school.
The first person to crack within the first week will owe the other person the amount of time they spent online in foot rubs.
Doesn’t seem so difficult, does it? We thought a cruise would be a perfect to get away from the computers. There would be plenty of entertainment onboard and little Internet. Perfect combination right?
…..Wrong! Being a digital nomad, unplugging from technology and taking a digital detox is freaking hard! We had a lot of downtime on the cruise and even though it was a nice opportunity to disconnect from the Internet, we still felt that need to be connected. We can’t feel too bad though because it turns out disconnecting from technology while on vacation is difficult for most people.
According to a recent study done by Intel Security, 57% of people aren’t willing to leave their smartphone at home while on vacation. And 68% of Americans admit to checking their work and personal email once a day, every day during their vacation. So in reality, staying offline for our first week was actually ambitious!
The Digital Detox Outcome
So how did we fare? Well here are some journal entries from experience to give you an idea:
Day 1: We got this. As soon as we arrive aboard the ship we toss our bags into our cabin and get drinks by the pool. We spend the afternoon lounging by the pool without even the slightest urge to connect online. Vacation has officially started!
Day 4: Starting to get a bit restless, but still under control. Without anywhere to go other than the pool and the restaurants, we are a bit bored. We’re getting our gadget fix by reading and listening to music.
Day 6: Jules cracked and checked his email! To be fair he was only online for about 20 minutes, but it still breaks the conditions of our agreement. 20 minutes online means 20 minutes of foot rubs for me!
Day 7: Finally! We made it through the first week. We both feverishly check our work and school emails (okay, and one sneaky Facebook check!) but manage to stick below the hour limit.
Day 9: We’re going a little stir crazy. This is only the second cruise we’ve been on and by far the longest. While we’ve made some great friends on the ship, we miss the feeling of being connected to friends back home with just the click of a button.
Day 12: We’re not sure if it’s seasickness, cabin fever or digital withdrawals but we’re at the end of our rope. We’ve managed to stick to our 1 hour/ day limit, but all other rules have gone out the window. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, it’s all fair game!
Day 14: And we’re DONE. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see land. Especially because it means our digital detox is OVER. We proceed to spend the rest of the day glued to our computers.
We never expected a digital detox to be easy. After all, we work, study and socialize online. Being a travel blogger means not only creating content on our computers, but also keeping our followers updated through social media during our travels. It’s not often that we have to disconnect from social media or our devices for more than a couple hours. It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s the nature of our work and it allows us to live the lifestyle we love.
Lately, however, we’ve gotten into a habit of going online just for the sake of it. We’ll do a little check on our Instagram followers, or send a quick message on Facebook. We’ve even gotten into the terrible habit of being on our phones during meals (so bad!).
This digital detox challenge was a learning experience to see just how far our addiction runs. I can tell you, it wasn’t pretty. There were times during the cruise when I reached into my purse to grab my phone when I remembered the detox challenge. Having that simple hurdle was a consistent reminder every time I wanted to go online. It made me evaluate whether I really need to log on to do something important or whether I was just going on for the sake of it.
It feels so automatic these days to reach for your phone when you have a spare second. Whether it’s waiting in line at the grocery store or before you go to bed at night. These little instances may not seem like much but when you’re presented with the challenge of not being able to get online, it’s a reminder just how much you reach for your phone or computer. We forget that we’re reliant on Internet even for simple things like searching for restaurants or using Google to settle a debate between friends (was Brendan Frasier really in that movie?).
And while those instances may seem harmless, they just add up to hours when you’re sucked into your phone or computer. Hours where you’re taken away from real life, thinking about somewhere or something else and not enjoying the moment.
Benefits of a Digital Detox
While our digital detox cruise was challenging, it also provided us with some incredible memories. Away from the seemingly “phone-addicted” environment of backpacker hostels these days, we were able to really connect with other travelers on the ship. Without having the distraction of the Internet we had to make our own fun, not unlike during the days of our childhood. We played games, chatted about our travels and enjoyed cocktails by the pool without anyone stressing about whether it was being documented on Snapchat. We ate meals without waiting till our food went cold because everyone wanted to take photos for Instagram.
Jules and I had more time for ourselves as well. We normally work long days, punctuated by big days of travel and sightseeing. We rarely have down time, but when we do we usually veg out on our phones, scrolling through the same boring feeds. Getting away from all that meant having time to just hang out. We enjoyed taking walks around the ship and chatting about conversations not related to work.
Overall, this experience came at a perfect time. We’re currently expanding our online businesses to include more than just the blog. Which means more tasks to do behind the computer. Our unplugged vacation was a great reminder that just because we work online doesn’t mean we need to be online all the time. We need breaks away from technology to enjoy real life.
Tips For Using Your Tech On Vacation
If you feel the temptation for going online during your trip (hey, we don’t blame you!), Intel Security shares some great security tips for keeping all your tech safe, with or without a vacation.
Back up your computer. Seriously. It took me years to get this through my head. I was lucky not to have my computer stolen or broken, but if it had I would have lost everything! Whether you’re accessing your information away from your home network or going to go long stints without your technology, it’s better to have the peace of mind that all your important information is safe!
You should always have a decent password lock on your phone. You can even add an extra layer of security with the new iPhones that allow you to use a fingerprint authentication.
Use a phone-locating app. I can’t tell you how many phones I’ve lost over the years. Having an app like “find my phone” is a must-have, especially while traveling where language and other barriers can make phone recovery very difficult.
Thanks to Intel Security for giving this opportunity to unplug from our digital world, if only for a short period. As always, any opinions expressed in this article are ours. We’d never bring you something we didn’t truly believe in.
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