Imagine you’re taking a well-deserved break. The sand is soft and the sun is warm, and there’s nothing to interrupt your thoughts but rolling waves as they crash in to shore. Oh and of course the buzz of an email coming through on your Blackberry. Sound familiar?
If you find yourself wired 24/7, even on holiday, it might be time to jump on the bandwagon of a tourism trend quickly gaining momentum: the digital detox holiday.
“As our lives get busier, there’s an ever increasing demand from people looking to escape the rat race and rejuvenate on a tech-free holiday,” says Kirsty Labruiny, general manager of sales and marketing at Lastminute.com.au. “Although many of us dream of getting away and switching off, the reality is, the majority of us struggle to do so,” she says. “So holiday providers are now helping us out by offering digital detox holidays, where technology is discouraged or the destination is simply out of mobile range.”
According to a 2012 report by Lastminute.com.au, almost one in two women pack a laptop and 70% check or update social media when travelling, suggesting that using technology on holiday has become as common as a trip to the resort cocktail bar.
So to eliminate temptation, resorts such as Saffire Freycinet in Tasmania require you to surrender your gadgets upon arrival if you sign up for their ‘e-tox’ package. Saffire General Manager, Justin King, sees it as a way of returning to the good old days.
“Remember the holidays we had before mobile phones?” he says. “Well we’re going back to basics and encouraging guests to relax in real time, only check-in once at the front desk and ensure the only tweets you’ll hear will be from the kookaburras perched outside your window.”
And providers such as Saffire might be on to something, as going digital-free not only benefits your personal life, but also your career.
“Technology is fantastic. However like most things in life, if we engage with it too much we can find ourselves fatiguing, which isn’t good for productivity,” says psychologist Dr Joann Lukins. “For the same reason you wouldn’t go to a gym and do bicep curls every morning and night (because you’ll fatigue, the muscle won’t recover and you won’t get stronger), you shouldn’t overdo technology.” She says that by taking a proper break though, you’ll come back to the office feeling refreshed and motivated, which will improve the quality of your work.
Despite the benefits of taking a technology break, research published in the International Journal of Tourism Sciences indicates that the idea of completely disconnecting makes many of us feel a bit uneasy. In particular, the study found that reducing social communication and cutting the work-related ‘electronic leash’ can cause feelings of stress.
If these concerns resonate with you, psychologist Danya Braunstein offers some tips to help you switch off:
- Communicate to others that you won’t be available while you’re away and give them a timeframe.
- Delegate decisions to someone else who is contactable in your absence.
- Focus on connecting with people and experiences while you are on holiday.
- Challenge any thoughts about needing to check-in or switch on.
- Reward yourself for sticking to your plan. (So, how about that spa?)
If you’re warming to the idea of a digital detox holiday, now is the perfect time to start planning as the national campaign Social September kicks off this month. The campaign is all about disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with others and yourself to raise money for the youth organisation Reach. Could there be a better excuse?
If you need some inspiration, the providers below can help you with a tech-free holiday option:
- Saffire Freycinet, Tasmania
- Lizard Island, Queensland
- Cockatoo Hill Retreat, Queensland
- Kumara Resort and Spa, Bali
- The Westin Dublin, Ireland
- Luangwa National Park Safari, Africa
- Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary, Thailand
And after realising the benefits of completely switching off, hopefully you’ll decide to make every holiday technology free.