Digital Detox?

Is there any harm staying wired in while on vacation? Or could we all use a little digital detox while traveling?

In this day and age technology can be likened to an extra limb or maybe a small child tethered to the waist, depending on which way you see it. Just take a look on any train or bus around the world and watch the thousands of people zoned out. Some are listening to music, some are Instagraming gum they found on the bus that looks like Michael Jackson and others are catching up on emails. Even most tourists have now given way to the ancient form of printed maps for the more inconspicuous phone with GPS tracking.

We are constantly connected, which is not necessarily a bad thing and it doesn’t mean we need to disconnect completely but when we travel far it becomes a question of how to balance usage and vacation time.

Back in the day keeping in contact meant sending a postcard via snail mail from your destination that most of the time arrived after your return. Nowadays it is just a touch of the screen. And while Wi-Fi coverage is laughable and data costs are astronomical we still find ways to stay in touch while on the road.

But are we using digital technology so relentlessly that we can’t even switch off while on vacation. Or do we really need to switch off?

The reality is, most use vacation time for big time “smoasting”; social media boasting. Finally after months of scrolling through various Mediterranean sunsets and African safari’s, it’s your turn to spark some picture envy, because unless it’s on Facebook it didn’t really happen right!

Ironically another reason we choose not to disconnect is all thanks to FOMO. Fear of missing out is a form of social anxiety mainly associated with modern technologies thanks to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. There is a constant desire to be in touch with what others are doing, even when it is you who is relaxing on white soft sand while everyone else is working 9-5.

But technology and social media can also serve as a cathartic way to relax. Many use vacation time to connect with friends and family that are otherwise too busy to connect with in the routine of life, while others play social games like Chess or Words with Friends or even read a book on a Kindle or iPad instead of paperback. We are living in the 21st Century, if you are fortunate enough to own iPads, iPhones, Kindles etc. why not embrace it.

Of course there are those that have no qualms about being off the grid and this is great but for those that don’t think they are that disciplined like myself here are some tips for enjoying your holidays without experiencing FOMO.


  • Don’t go cold turkey

Just like when we eat chocolate or drink soda, being on our phones stimulates our senses. The brain learns to recognize the behavior with the stimulation and creates a pattern. The pleasure center is aroused when we hear the beep of a message or the ding of a Facebook like. If you shock the body and go cold turkey chances are you will be the person that runs to the bathroom to frantically scan anything new for a ‘hit’

  • One hour window a day

Allocate a time throughout the day when you can have time out to look at anything on your phone whether it is social media, emails or reading the news. Chances are when you are laying in the sun doing nothing is when you will have urges to simply ‘check’ your phone. Aim to plan activities during the day to keep your mind busy.

The most important thing to remember is if you are checking work emails because you feel like you have to, then you probably wont enjoy your time off or feel rejuvenated when returning. There’s no harm in staying switched on while away but if you find you are being kept from actually experiencing your vacation, then maybe a digital detox would be worth giving a go.

One thing is for sure; the more time spent looking into other people’s moment’s, the less time spent in your own.

Steph_profHerstory is a weekly column on women and travel by Steph Ridhalgh. Steph is a Sydney born; New York based television producer and travel blogger. Not one for being quiet for too long she simply loves talking about travel and lifestyle.

Steph is the founder of STEP(h) ABROAD, a travel and lifestyle resource for those who love to be in the know and know how.

Connect with her on the web, Facebook and Twitter.