For Jules and I, our entire life is online. Running a travel blog means we’re glued to our computers, often for marathon work sessions. We’re on social media more than we’d like to admit to keep our followers up to date on our travels. We’re both studying remote courses for our Masters, which means reading and discussing with our classmates online. And then there’s normal life stuff like keeping in touch with our family and friends from abroad. That’s a lot of digital time.
Don’t get me wrong, we wouldn’t give up this life for anything. As annoying as it is to make sure we grab a quick Snapchat or Instagram shot whenever we go sightseeing, it beats working a 9 to 5 back home. Still, it’s a nice break for us to disconnect from the Internet even for a few hours. So when Intel Security contacted us to have a digital detox vacation we jumped at the chance to get away from all things tech.
According to a recent survey conducted by Intel Security, 55% of travelers who wanted to disconnect from their devices while on vacation were unsuccessful. Yikes. We’re going to guess that number will only continue to increase as every day more and more apps come out that connect us to the digital world.
Digital Detox Holiday
Luckily for our little digital detox experience we have the perfect excuse to go cold turkey on the gadgets. We’re about to embark on a 2 week cruise across the Atlantic from Colombia to Portugal. Wi-Fi is going to be limited (if not non-existent), so chances are we’ll be forced to shut off anyway.
To have a little extra fun, Jules and I set up a little competition amongst ourselves- who would crack first? According to the survey men are slightly better at unplugging then females, with 57% unplugging on vacation compared to 44% of women, so looks like I’m already starting from a disadvantage.
Digital Detox Challenge Conditions
The first week of the cruise we’re going cold turkey. We’re each allowed to choose one gadget to use for non-Wi-Fi purposes: Jules has chosen his iPhone to play music and I’m choosing my Kindle for reading.
The second week of the cruise we’ll have to get online to check work emails and contribute to our class discussions, but we’re limiting ourselves to 1 hour a day between the two of us.
The first person of the two of us to crack and get online before the second week will owe the person the amount of time they spent online in foot rubs!
Thoughts Going Into The Trip
We’re not going to lie, this isn’t going to be easy. While it will be refreshing to have a break from updating social media and checking email, I think a digital detox will be surprisingly difficult. I’ll be the first to admit how addicted we are to our devices.
Even when we aren’t updating for work, I find myself mindlessly checking my Facebook or email throughout the day. I envy my former travel self who wandered through Central America without so much as an iPhone in my pocket. Getting online was the last thing on my mind when there were so many adventures to be had.
This was also back in 2011 when hostel Wi-Fi was much less common than it is these days. Now when you enter a hostel common room there is much less chatter between new friends and much more heads faced down completely absorbed by phones.
And I won’t say that we don’t contribute to the problem. It’s difficult though because our work dictates that we be online every day. Sometimes when I see wandering eyes notice how enraptured we are on Facebook I just want to scream “it’s for work!” but I don’t think anyone would believe me.
The Difficulties of Disconnecting from Technology
For travelers across the board it’s becoming more and more difficult to disconnect. Nowadays there are so many travel tools that come in the form of apps and websites. Intel Security has some useful digital detox tips for disconnecting while on vacation, including using offline maps.
For millennials, especially those who have grown up using Google Maps (or the OG of online maps- MapQuest!), we’re completely dependent on having our phone direct us where to go. Thank goodness there are offline maps for us directionally-challenged travelers. Did you know that Google Maps can be also used offline if you pre-load the area you’re traveling in?
There are also offline map apps like Maps.Me where you can actually type in your destination and it will create a route for you, without having to be online! It’s not exactly complete digital detox, but staying off the Internet will reduce the temptation to mindlessly check your Facebook (again).
For us bloggers, whose lives revolve around and our often very publicly displayed in this online space, it’s especially important to remember to log off. This digital detox challenge will be the perfect experience to test our addiction and remind ourselves that we can live without the Internet.
On a professional level we’ll have to write and schedule some of our social media posts to go up while we’re on the cruise, so it will also be a good exercise in planning ahead. Hopefully we’ll gain some insight on batch-creating social media and blog posts that we can schedule to go live and use these skills for future digital detox trips. When your life revolves around being online it’s so important to plan ahead.
Remembering to Enjoy the Vacation
Above all I look forward to having this time as a real vacation. Often when we come back home after a year of traveling people ask us “how was your vacation?” Okay, we get it. From the outside it probably looks like we’re on vacay 100% of the time. Our social media shows us sipping cocktails on a beach in the Philippines or trekking through a tropical jungle. It doesn’t show our hours working in hostel rooms or searching for quiet cafes with decent Wi-Fi, even though that’s what our days are usually like. So having a real, unplugged vacation is going to be a godsend.
It’s funny that travelers take vacations to get away from all the drama and chaos of life at home, but then choose to bring all that with them when they connect online. We have to intentionally force ourselves to disconnect from that world and enjoy the moment. Hopefully this challenge will be a start of a new online/offline balance that we can introduce into our work and lives. We can’t wait to see how it goes!
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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