Home » We sent an internet addict on a trip without phones. This is what happened

We sent an internet addict on a trip without phones. This is what happened

written by Intrepid Travel May 5, 2016

My name is Amanda, and I am an internet addict.

This is no joke. Like a lot of travelers, I’m dependent on my smartphone. On Google. On Facebook. On being able to be connected 24/7. In fact, I AM connected nearly 24 hours a day – as a travel blogger, it’s basically my job to be on my laptop for hours a day, and to constantly be updating Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat. And let’s not even get started on how often I check my email…

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But this isn’t healthy. I don’t actually need to refresh Facebook every 5 minutes, or check my email more than 15 times per day. I don’t NEED to respond to every blog comment within minutes of someone posting it. Addictions like this are hard to break. They become second-nature; our phones are now just extensions of our hands and they go everywhere with us, from work to restaurants – even to the bathroom.

Being aware of how dependent I am on all my gadgets, I decided to take a break.

RELATED: CHECK OUT OUR BRAND NEW RANGE OF DIGITAL DETOX TRIPS

If you read all the popular “travel trend” articles at the beginning of the year, you probably noticed that “digital detox” trip were predicted to be big in 2016. A digital detox is basically just taking a trip the way people used to do it: sans cell phones and laptops and cameras and anything else with screens. As a tech addict, I knew this would be a challenge. But it was a challenge I wanted to set for myself.

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So I teamed up with Intrepid Travel to go to Ecuador for a week without technology. The “Ecuador on a Shoestring” trip I went on is now offered as an official digital detox trip by Intrepid, but I just went with a regular group – and did my best to not do any of my usual while-I’m-traveling tasks. This meant no blog posts, no emails, no Snapchatting. I even left my camera at home, lest I be tempted to spend more of my time behind those screens.

And yes, it was difficult. I struggled with disconnecting (especially when others on the tour were still checking Facebook and posting to Instagram along the way), and I struggled with shifting my focus from documenting every aspect of my trip to just living it.

But I learned some surprising things during my digital detox trip, too. Things like:

It’s easier to leave social media behind than you probably think

The easiest part of the digital detox was actually ignoring social media for a week. I didn’t miss the Twitter check-ins, or stressing over which photo to share on Instagram. I didn’t have to worry about finding wifi to upload my snaps, and I could be blissfully ignorant of how many likes my Facebook posts were getting.

I realize that, as a blogger, I use social media differently than the average person. But disconnecting from the constant refreshes and notifications was easier than I thought it would be.

I rely on social media for more than I realized

Even though it was fairly easy to ignore Facebook and Twitter for a week, I quickly began to realize just how truly disconnected I began to feel without my regular check-ins. Like many, I’ve become reliant on social media for everything from family updates to getting the latest news. Without Facebook, in particular, I felt totally out of the loop with what was going on in the world.

In a way, though, it was kind of liberating – I got to spend a whole week without hearing about Donald Trump every day.

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The internet does in fact go on without you

At the end of the day, the internet (and the world) will go on without you. My blog did not implode. My email inbox did get wildly out of hand, but I was able to get it back under control pretty quickly when I got home. And, more importantly, I didn’t really miss anything while I was disconnected.

I know that FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real concern for many people like me. But when you’re away from Facebook memes and hashtags and the newest Snapchat filters, you’re not really missing out – those things will still be around once you’re reunited with your devices.

Not being connected leaves more time for other interests

Without blogging and ‘gramming and snapping to worry about, I found myself drawn to other things that I enjoy doing that often get pushed aside when I’m at home and busy on my laptop or phone. Things like coloring and watching the sun set and reading a real paperback book (yep, they still make those).

I read my book for hours on end while sitting on a balcony in the town of Banos. I took notes in a little journal with a pen (and came to the horrifying realization that my handwriting has definitely suffered from disuse over the past few years). I went on hikes in the Amazon and bartered for textiles and searched for street art.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t have done any of these things if I’d been “connected” on this trip – but not having my safety blanket of phone and laptop definitely left room for other things.

Overall, there is definitely something to be said for waking up every morning and being present in each and every moment. My Digital Detox allowed me to truly disconnect from my devices and better connect with the world.

Feature image c/o Eliza Gower

Want to try a Digital Detox challenge? We’ve just released a range of trips to help you kick the tech addiction.

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10 comments

Zakat Donations September 25, 2019 - 4:51 pm

Thanks for Sharing.

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sponser a syrian child November 8, 2018 - 11:13 pm

Good for you! It IS really tough to completely disconnect, especially when like you said every app is always trying to alert you about something! My trick is to turn my phone on airplane mode (or just off completely) when I don’t want anyone to be able to reach me!

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David Iwanow May 12, 2016 - 8:25 am

Ah Amanda your awesome for taking the leap and shutting off from technology for a while, I just came back last night from 17 days in Sicily where for atleast the first week I avoiding emails and social media but really did struggle to kick the habit of checking in on Foursquare.

I did get interrupted several times in the first few days by people finding ways to contact me, I wasn’t answering emails so lets try Skype, no online, let’s try FB notifications, then Messenger and finally Whatsapp… it’s actually really hard to manage to shut down all the damn ways that people can get you and how aggressive apps are to notify you that you are missing out on something.

I did break the isolation a few times but that was mostly to check on one or two personal things but did get quite annoyed when a few people did break the rules of personal/business when they wanted my feedback so posted a work question into FB messenger. I must say I was really enjoying my digital freedom and felt quite upset of having my freedom interupted…

Today is the first day back online and there is so much to catchup on it’s a big overwhelming after such a wonderful break! I’m not thinking more about how I need to silo social media out of my life so I can focus and relax a bit more now that I’m back.

I’m sure you are the first of many to take the dive offline to see the world still continues to tick along without your hourly checks for new notifications on email and social.

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Amanda May 16, 2016 - 1:55 am

Good for you! It IS really tough to completely disconnect, especially when like you said every app is always trying to alert you about something! My trick is to turn my phone on airplane mode (or just off completely) when I don’t want anyone to be able to reach me!

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Katie COoney May 12, 2016 - 3:23 am

You can survive. Just take the leap, you’ll be glad you did! The first day will be the hardest, then it will get easier and easier! I traveled the world sans smart anything and glad I did. Why? Because I was truly in the moment and in the place where I was to meet the people and experience everything even sometimes being a bit lonely.

Be Brave!
Katie

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Amanda May 16, 2016 - 1:57 am

I often think about how I traveled before smartphones. It’s hard to imagine now, but I actually lived/traveled in New Zealand for 5 months in 2008 basically without a phone at all! (I had one, but it was just for emergency calls/texts). It’s definitely possible, and it IS sometimes nice to get away from it all!

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Mel May 12, 2016 - 2:43 am

How were the pictures taken if cameras aren’t allowed?

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James Shackell May 12, 2016 - 8:52 am

Hey Mel,

Our leader was allowed a camera to document the experience. Good lateral thinking though 😉

Cheers
James

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Nicole May 6, 2016 - 9:24 pm

I dont think i can survive without internet while travelling!

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James Shackell May 9, 2016 - 9:50 am

We feel your pain Nicole. But don’t sell yourself short – your powers of self control are probably better than you think. If you want to give the challenge a go, we’ve just released a bunch of Digital Detox trips.

Cheers
James

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