The Bliss of Taking a Summer Digital Detox

Travel guide company AFAR has a suggestion for all of us traveling this summer.

“Buy a camera. Buy a book. And where you get to where you’re going, talk to people.” 

Earlier this spring, AFAR launched their #travelunplugged initiative, in the hopes of getting us all to put down our devices and truly engage on our journeys. 

“At AFAR, we believe that travel offers the chance to step away from the never-ending noise and distractions of modern life, and actually connect with your fellow humans—and the real world—again,” AFAR’s Julia Cosgrove explained at that time. “That’s why I’m especially excited about #TravelUnplugged, AFAR’s new digital detox campaign.”

As summer travel heats up, AFAR is reminding us that our travel time is precious, too precious to be wasted staring at our phones. Whether you are spending a few days with your toes in the sand, reuniting with friends or family, or crossing borders to somewhere exotic, taking a digital fast will heighten the experience. 

“Commit to taking a trip [before] September 3 and promise not to use your phone or your computer,” Cosgrove encourages. “The trip can be any duration, to any type of destination, but the idea is to truly disconnect from technology. Get a little lost on a trail, ride the rails, or simply head out for a day in your own hometown without a plan—or a phone.”

Several Twitter users apparently have already taken the challenge, and posted about their experiences, including blogger Jen Kloczko, who discovered the fun of engaging with humans to get the information she needed in a new place. 

“As we drove in we wondered about finding tide pools and I said we could just ask in the lobby rather than googling it,” Kloczko writes. “Turns out the paper from the lobby had a list of tides, places to visit, places to eat, and more. It was fun going old school with just the paper!  During our trip we just meandered along highway 1 and discovered as we went along. It was the best!”

The irony of posting online about your unplugged travel commitment doesn’t escape Cosgrove, but that’s missing the point. I think it’s a great idea, and I’m all for unplugging and engaging in real time. Most of us do need to step back from the screens and enjoy life in the moment, and new places give us a perfect opportunity to do that. But maybe, when you return, you’ll want to keep the experience all to yourself. And that’s quite okay too.