As social media and the internet continue to play bigger roles in our lives, it can feel increasingly difficult to step away from it all and enjoy the world outside our screens. Travelling presents the perfect opportunity to step away from the digital world, but how can we truly unplug while away? Read on for 10 easy ways to unplug on your next trip.
1. Get a paper map
One of the main reasons most of us get on our phones in the first place while travelling is to navigate, which leads to mindless scrolling long after the navigation is done. Using a paper map brings back that magical feeling of discovery and exploration that’s just not possible with the help of an app. Disengaging from digital navigation helps us really learn our way around a new place, too. After a few days, you probably won’t even need that paper map!
2. Choose a destination that forces you to unplug
Have you ever travelled to a place where your phone just didn’t work? Now turn that frustration around and do that on purpose this time! You can choose a place with no reliable WiFi or visit a destination whose network your device isn’t compatible with. Either way, you’ll experience a richer vacation because of it. Try Antigua Guatemala or Tola or check this list for more disconnected destination ideas.
3. Disconnect through activity
Signing up for an active retreat like backpacking through the mountains, a week of yoga on a tropical island, or a cycling trip are pretty fail-proof ways to disconnect from the digital world. But if you still can’t trust yourself to fully disconnect, you can sign up for a retreat with the specific purpose of a digital detox like the aptly named Digital Detox retreats.
4. Turn it off
You may not want to ditch your phone entirely while away from home, but you can limit your engagement with it by turning the Do Not Disturb setting on, limiting yourself to a set time each day to check notifications and to post to social media, or simply turning your device off. If you know your willpower is too weak to resist, try installing AppDetox or a similar app before your trip.
5. Hire a professional to document your trip
Put down the phone camera and hire one of our amazing local photographers to capture your trip. You’ll be engaged in the experience, rather than with your phone, and you’ll be in the photos with your loved ones. It’s a win-win.
6. Pre-schedule social media
Think there’s no way you can unplug from social media because your job or business demands that you stay engaged with your followers? Think again. Use Buffer or Coschedule to pre-schedule any necessary social media responsibilities before your trip and blissfully disengage while you’re away.
7. Plan plenty of activities
Add plenty of non-digital activities to your vacation itinerary: visiting museums, exploring neighbourhoods on foot, and trying new activities. Arm yourself with a good book (of the paper variety) to read anytime you feel bored and are tempted to check social media, or hit the hotel gym!
8. Leave the laptop at home
When packing, only bring the digital devices that are absolutely necessary. This likely doesn’t include your laptop and it probably doesn’t include your tablet either. Simplifying and only bringing your personal cell phone and possibly a camera will limit the number of temptations you’re faced with when trying to unplug.
9. Send postcards
Writing postcards to friends and family while away will hone those good old-fashioned communication skills we’re losing with the onslaught of digital communication. When was the last time you addressed a note to a friend directly and updated them on what you were doing, where you were, and let them know you were thinking of them instead of sending a blast into the digital ether to whomever may stumble upon it? Meaningful connection is important and sending a few postcards is a sure-fire way to spread some love!
10. Plan your trip ahead of time
No, you don’t have to plan every second of your trip, but having a solid itinerary before you ever leave home will mean less time browsing your phone while on vacation. Even simply creating a list of must-visit restaurants will allow you to minimize browsing and uncertainty while away. A little planning goes a long way!