How about a holiday that offers screenless solitude?

While you may wish to get away from the day-to-day busyness, there’s no point spending your hard-earned money or time on a holiday only to constantly use your phone for texting, attend zoom calls on your laptop or experience the urge to post pictures on the Gram. In such a scenario, your break might leave you feeling more exhausted than rejuvenated or fulfilled. Hence, more and more travellers are considering choosing Wi-fi free hotels, stays that come minus a television or regions of the country with no phone reception and internet connectivity. And why not? With screen fatigue and WFH burnout becoming more prevalent, a vacation that offers screenless solitude seems like the best bet. We find out more about how unplugging from digital devices can help you savour your well earned break.
Gadget-free breaks for peace and relaxation

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With the outbreak of COVID-19 earlier last year, there has been a digital transformation in the society. Our screen time has definitely surged! An individual who was earlier spending four hours a day on their smartphone is perhaps spending eight now, especially post the stay-at-home working pattern. “The post-pandemic paradigm shift made many realise the ease that the digital universe brings with it. To break free from the monotony of life after having succumbed to endless lockdowns, people began to seek refuge in the virtual world. Aside from working from home, people kept themselves amused by streaming films on OTT platforms, gaming and even through social media consumption. However, many are now realising that excess of anything can have its ill effects. They can relate themselves to the term ‘digital detox’ and are planning vacations to get off the grid. This helps them in returning back to the new normal, revitalized and well-rested,” says Siddharth Yadav, Vice President, MRS Group of Hotels.

Wellness resorts encourage disconnection from technology

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Pic: Vana Wellness Retreat
There are several wellness resorts in India that encourage a digital detox retreat, one that discourages mindless scrolling on your device and encourages mindful connection with nature and self. “At a wellness retreat like ours, many visit with a certain goal or a wellness intent in mind. The purpose is often to heal in the midst of nature while detaching oneself from all the commotions of life which otherwise is not possible. For the same, our guests are allowed to use their digital devices only within the privacy of their rooms or the designated communal workspace which is located within the retreat. This has certainly helped guests balance their daily activities and focus on their overall well-being,” says – Saranpreet Singh Suri, Director – Retreat Services at Vana Dehradun. “There have been instances, especially with repeat travellers, where our guests handed over their digital devices at the reception of the retreat. As they say, the moment you start accepting and start taking a step towards wellness yourself, the overall achievement of wellbeing becomes possible,” adds Suri.

Getting off-the-grid in distant locations

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Pic: Wilderness India

People are willing to disengage themselves from the digital world and are favouring places that are distant. “I have seen a drastic rise in the number of people opting for treks, hikes and active adventures in off-beat places. The best part about these experiences is that you’re cut off from technology due to lack of mobile network and this enhances your travel experience. Disconnection from technology allows you to be present in every moment. You can listen to the sounds of nature, observe various plants, birds, insects and landscapes. It also gives you ample time with yourself, to reflect on life,” says Viral Prajapati, trekker and co-founder, Wilderness India.

Simple ways to enjoy a digital detox on a trip

> Turn off your push notifications.
> If you are planning to check your business email during you holiday, set up a schedule in advance.
> Capture your memories in your phone but upload them later.
> Learn to navigate that uncomfortable FOMO feeling.
> Avoid using your phone at mealtimes.
> Set up a smart out-of-office reply to avoid the dreaded backlog that usually awaits your return.

> Cut down on distractions and try to be present in every moment.

> If you are on a workcation, do not exceed your regular working hours and spend that time with your family as well as nature. There’s a reason why you took off from your home in the first place.

> You may want to journal your travel experiences.

> It’s okay to not plug in your earphones. Listen to the sounds of nature rather than listening to your favourite song.

> Try phone stacking when travelling with a group of people.

Inputs by Devendra Parulekar, Founder, SaffronStays.

FACT CHECK

A study conducted by the University of East Anglia (UEA), University of Greenwich and Auckland University of Technology (AUT), investigated how engaging in digital-free tourism impacted travellers’ holiday experiences. It revealed that there were initial anxiety, frustration and withdrawal symptoms among many of the travellers, but later growing levels of acceptance, enjoyment, and even liberation. Participants travelling as a couple, or in a group, tended to be more confident to disconnect than solo travelers.