Had enough of the constant buzz of your cellphone? It may be time for an analogue holiday, where all things digital are forfeited for real-life experiences.
When was the last time you went a week—or even a day—without plugging into your phone, computer, or tablet? Chances are it’s been awhile. But while it seems we can’t live without our devices, we aren’t living very well with them, either. Constant scrolling and swiping has been linked to everything from anxiety to sleep problems and loneliness, and it leaves many of us wondering how we can escape the technology overload.
Analogue holidays on the rise
As we learn more about the downsides of the digital era, analogue holidays are on the rise and in demand. During these getaways—also known as digital detoxes—vacationers take a retreat from technology, trading artificial distractions for the pleasures of real life.
Benefits of going off the grid
Getting away from the constant beeping, pinging, and buzzing allows us to slow down, breathe, and relax.
Read from the pages of a book instead of a screen. Daydream. Have a conversation that’s not interrupted by Google. And take a photograph for the sake of the photograph—not just to post on social media.
Shift your perspective
Taking a digital break helps us notice and question the ways we’ve become reliant on technology, inviting new balance when we go back to the “real world.”
Check in (to check out)
There’s something for every type of tech-weary traveller at these near and far destinations.
For the nature lover
Echo Valley Ranch (evranch.com) This beautiful oasis offers group digital detox retreats against the backdrop of BC’s pristine Cariboo Mountains. Although internet connection is offered if requested, between the pleasures of farm-fresh meals, the pure mountain air, and Thai-inspired spa treatments, checking your email will be the last thing on your mind.
For the eccentric explorer
Mill Valley (mill-valley.co.uk)
Travellers looking for the offbeat will find it at Mill Valley in Cornwall, UK, where they can stay in a woodland cabin, handmade yurt, or hobbit house (complete with a living ash tree in the middle). While you won’t find televisions here, you will find wood-fired bathtubs, composting toilets, and access to nearby trails and swimming holes.
For the outdoor adventurist
Assiniboine Lodge (assiniboinelodge.com)
Accessible only by foot, skis, or helicopter, the remote (and Wi-Fi free) Assiniboine Lodge was North America’s first backcountry ski retreat. Located at the base of Mt. Assiniboine in BC, this iconic site has options to camp, hole up in a rustic log hut, or stay in one of the lodge’s cozy rooms or cabins. Follow a guided hike or ski tour with a little stargazing—without the distracting glare of a cellphone screen.
For the city dweller
The Great George (thegreatgeorge.com)
Urban hotels across the globe are offering digital detox packages. At the Great George in Charlottetown, PEI, guests leave all devices at the front desk upon arrival.
Mandarin Oriental (mandarinoriental.com)
Located in cities around the world, including New York, spa guests at some locations of the Mandarin Oriental can opt for a “digital wellness escape”—a treatment focusing on the head, neck, and shoulders to ease the strain from frequent device use.
For the health spa enthusiast
Villa Stéphanie (oetkercollection.com)
Booking into Villa Stéphanie, located in Germany’s famous spa town of Baden-Baden, is worth the splurge. Its seven-day detox package promises more restorative sleep by blocking all Wi-Fi signals from guestrooms, coupled with a range of spa treatments, personalized menu plan, and full-body and metabolism analysis.
Choose your own adventure
Interested in a digital detox but not sure if you’re ready to completely disconnect? Luckily, digital-free tourism doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
Although some destinations are staunchly off the grid, others provide varying levels of tech-accessibility (like providing Wi-Fi only in hotel lobbies), while others simply encourage a “tech-free attitude.” Do a bit of research to discover the adventure that’s right for you.
DIY digital cleansing
You don’t have to travel across the globe or spend hundreds of dollars to have a digital detox. Here are some ways to downsize your digital footprint at home.
At least one hour before bed, shut off all electronics in favour of a book, bath, or conversation with your spouse.
Tip: Set the timer on your Wi-Fi router (search YouTube for a video tutorial) for a no-excuses power-down schedule.
Bonus: Your circadian rhythms will thank you for the digital-free downtime—it’s well-documented that screen time before bed interferes with sleep quality.
Plan a digital-free date
Leave the phones at home next time you head out for dinner or a walk with your honey (who’ll appreciate not having to compete with a cellphone screen).
Tip: If you need to be available for emergencies, set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” with the option to receive phone calls from select numbers (like the babysitter’s).
Bonus: Going sans phone can make your date more fulfilling. A recent study found that simply being around mobile devices—even when we’re not using them—detracts from the quality of our face-to-face interactions.
Take an analogue staycation
Unplug the Wi-Fi and lock away your devices for an entire weekend of technology-free bliss.
Tip: Get the whole family involved by letting everyone pick their favourite non-digital activity.
Bonus: It’s critical for kids to have time away from screens—even if they’re soon complaining that they’re bored. In fact, boredom can be a unique opportunity for children to discover creative ways to fill their time—through play, art, or simply observing the world around them.