Are tech-free vacations worth it?
At-your-fingertip maps, online booking services and apps to check flight delays have made the nuts and bolts of travelling easier than ever. Yet the same devices that connect us before a trip can keep us from disconnecting during one.
So should you cut the cord and try a holiday without technology? On question and answer site Quora.com, a few frequent travellers shared their past experiences taking tech-free vacations. Was it worth it? Their opinions varied widely.
The highest voted answer came from Gil Yehuda, who takes regular tech-free trips with his family. Instead of staying “glued to their own piece of illuminated glass (internet, TV or video game)”, he and his family “eat meals together, talk, walk, read or play games”. Yehuda recommended a device-free vacation for everyone. “It is very rewarding personally and it will help you reprioritise talking to your spouse [or] child over deciding that you just have to forward that LOLcat viral video to everyone you know.”
More brain power
Finding a mix of total relaxation and newfound inspiration on his tech-free vacation, Tristan Wright agreed. Without a device, he found himself with no worries except keeping track of what day it was. “Just go to bed when the sun sets, awake when it rises”, he said. “You don't have to worry about a darn thing but enjoying the moment and figuring out what you're going to do next.” In addition, he found himself “dwelling on thoughts or topics much more intensely than I would when going about the regular multitasking day”. He also realised that being separated from technology gave him the ability to look at things differently and generate new ideas.
Out of your comfort zone
Luca Hammer took the complete opposite view. “It sucked”, he said, “and showed how much better a life with always connected devices is.” On a trip through Europe without a smartphone, he described his frustrations with finding rooms and things to do on the fly. Describing himself as on the “shy side”, he was not comfortable interacting with strangers during his tech-free vacation; in contrast, on a recent trip to Berlin, he was able to tweet his whereabouts and meet up with one of his followers for lunch. Though he eventually got used to being without the “daily stream of information”, he felt that being connected would have made the trip more “spontaneous” and “easier”.
Out of the loop
Debbie Gerber agreed with Hammer, having recently travelled to Turkey without a phone or computer. “I thought I would go crazy”, she said. “It made it so that I was far more stressed than I had ever been on a trip. I needed to know that my kids were ok, that the business wasn’t falling apart and that I was still connected to the outside world.”
Stress is the farthest thing from Jonathan Rabinowitz’s mind when he stays at his grandmother’s house in the Maine woods, out of range of mobile phone towers. “Mostly I spend days walking through the woods or swimming, and the evenings playing cards, doing jigsaw puzzles, watching the fire in the fireplace or reading”, he said.
For those interested in taking a technology-free holiday without the chance of temptation, Todd Gardiner recommended attending Burning Man, an annual music and art festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. “Burning Man is, for nearly all, a device-free week”, he explained, due to sparse cell phone service and no 3G or 4G availability. Instead of constantly checking your phone, “you actually meet new people and do things.” Without any devices, arranging a rendezvous with fellow campers is as easy as setting a location and a deadline for meeting in order to “party/dance/get lost in the dark.”