Technology Free Vacation | What It is and Why You Need One

family on a hike by a river

It is no secret that we are a society obsessed with technology. I read an alarming statistic recently that the average smartphone user touches his/her phone 2,617 times a day. Granted, the researchers who conducted the study counted every tap, swipe, and click individually, but still, those 2,617 touches added up to 4 hours and 25 minutes a day that the average person spends engaged and interacting with an electronic device.

Studies have shown that younger generations, like Gen Z and Gen Alpha, spend even longer on their phones. In fact, regardless of the generation in which you were born, there is a good chance you are reading this blog on a smartphone right now. If not, you are still reading it on some form of time-consuming technology.

The amount of time all of us – including our children – spend using technology is undoubtedly harmful to both our mental and physical health. So, perhaps it’s time for you to consider taking a technology free vacation and travel off the WiFi grid.

While we probably don’t do it often enough, we have taken a no tech vacation before, and the benefits lasted long after our tech free trip was over.

In this guide to taking a technology free vacation, we explain the benefits leaving the phones in airplane mode and temporarily going off the grid with your family.

a sign that reads 'there is no wifi in the forest but you will find a better connection
A tech free vacation is a way to disconnect and ultimately reconnect with nature and your family. | Photo by Ann from Unsplash

What is a technology free vacation?

Embarking on a technology free vacation is like a retreat designed to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with life and what is most important.

In a time where screens dominate our daily existence, a technology free vacation offers a much-needed respite, allowing individuals and families to unwind, recharge, and foster genuine connections.

Picture a serene getaway where smartphones are swapped for laughter over a campfire as you cook smores on a family camping trip. Imagine exchanging bustling cityscapes for tranquil natural surroundings. Digital distractions are replaced by meaningful conversations under starlit skies, hikes and other nature activities.

By taking a digital detox vacation, families can rediscover the joy of being present in the moment, forging stronger bonds, creating lasting memories, and feel more connected to each other, the earth, and our inner selves.

The pros and cons of technology

a cell phone plugged in
Our phones are such a big part of our lives, it is good to turn them off for awhile every once in a while and do a digital detox. | Photo by Nickypung from Pixabay

Don’t get me wrong, technology can be great. It allows me to work remotely. It allows me to maintain this blog which was originally started as a way for family and friends to follow our daughter’s adventures around the globe.

More importantly, because of technology, we can stay connected with loved ones in different cities, states, and even countries. But technology can be addicting, and at least for me, it can consume hours of the day. For example, I spent at least one to two hours writing this blog. It took time to edit and add images and optimize it for search engines. I did this all with some small hope that you might spend 4 minutes of your day reading it.

Although I do most of my writing and work while my daughter is at school, I’ll admit there are plenty of times throughout the evening that my attention is directed to my phone or my computer instead of to family.

So, while technology can connect us, it can also makes us unintentionally disengaged with life around us. We give a lot of time and energy to technology, and often end up feeling empty or drained.

Enter a technology free vacation.

Traveling off the grid and a tech-free trip

a pathway lined with palm trees at the eco-lodge in belize where we took a digital detox trip
A pathway at the eco-lodge in Belize where we stayed during our digital detox trip.

Now, to be clear, when I talk about going off the grid, I’m not talking about selling all of your worldly possessions, moving to the desert, living in a small hut made of mud, and growing your own vegetables. More power to you if that’s what you want to do. Personally, I like streaming services and WIFI too much to make that kind of permanent sacrifice.

I’m talking about a temporary disconnect from technology so you can reconnect with your family or even your inner spirit.

We did exactly this in Belize. The first few days, I booked us at Table Rock Jungle Lodge, which was a beautiful eco-lodge in the jungle just outside of San Ignacio, one of the best places in Belize to visit.

Eco-lodges aren’t really that common in the United States, but they are fairly popular in Central America and one of the things Belize is known for. Eco-lodges are sustainable, earth-friendly properties. We didn’t have television or WIFI in our rooms. There were no electrical outlets, so blow drying or curling my hair was out of the question.

I discovered that in my daily life, I actually spend quite a bit of time doing things like scrolling through Instagram or TikTok or mindlessly watching television.

No electricity? No WIFI? No problem!

a father and daughter hiking on a technology free vacation
Hiking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and forget about your phones.

You know how I spent that extra time in Belize? I spent it loving my family.

We hiked, splashed around in natural swimming holes with mini waterfalls and explored caves and strolled along the river. We laid around in hammocks and pet donkeys. Most importantly we talked to each other and listened to each other. We had meals together without distractions and spent all day outside until it was time for bed. We connected.

We were blissfully unaware of everything going on back in The States. Do you know we went a week without hearing any political news?! (Hallelujah!).

We were clueless as to the relationship statuses, lunch choices or major (and minor) life milestones of our friends on social media. What we were aware of though was each other.

a mom and daughter petting a donkey
Not only were we able to connect with nature, we also spent a lot of time with animals on our Belize trip.

Sure, my hair looks awful in the few photos we took on that trip, and makeup would have definitely been my friend. But when I look back at those pictures, I don’t regret not having a way to do my hair. I don’t regret not spending time putting on makeup. And I definitely don’t regret leaving my phone in the room and disconnecting from technology.

Looking back at those pictures, I think about the great time we had as a family. I think about the priceless memories we made together, the closer bond that we built, and the fun experiences we shared with our daughter.

How to take a technology detox trip

mom and daughter lounging in a hammock
Sometimes just letting yourself relax and do nothing is a good way to pass time when vacationing tech free.

You don’t have to go to a remote jungle in Belize like we did. You don’t even have to leave your city or your home to take a technology free vacation.

For one entire weekend, turn off your phone, unplug your computer and your television, and focus 100 percent of your attention on your family. Spend time together, eat meals together at the table, take a walk, go for a hike or a bike ride. Spend time outdoors enjoying nature.

Don’t respond to or even look at work emails or personal emails for that matter, leave the drama of social media behind, and for a few days just spend time with your loved ones. I realize that can be hard, that’s why we chose to go where technology wasn’t even an option.

A tech free trip isn’t just something families should do. It’s a good idea for all travelers to remain unplugged on vacation, at least for a portion of their trip.

Pros and cons of a technology free vacation

kids camping and sitting in a hammock
Camping is a great way to take a digital detox trip without going too far from home.

While there may be some challenges in a digital detox trip, the benefits of a technology free vacation far outweigh the drawbacks.

Benefits of a tech-free trip

A No-Tech vacation will enhance your mental well-being. By disconnecting from technology, you’ll see a reduction in stress, anxiety, and possibly even depression.

Without the distractions of screens, you’ll have better quality time with your family. You’ll be able to engage in more meaningful interactions, which is extremely important when children are young and as they age.

Technology free vacations are often spent outdoors, allowing you to connect with nature. Doing this will ultimately foster a greater appreciation for nature.

Another benefit to a digital detox trip is improved sleep. Reduced screen time, particularly before bed, will have a surprising impact on your sleep pattern. So, if you struggle to sleep and tend to toss and turn at night, you may realize you sleep like a log when you are tech-free!

Cons of a digital detox trip

When you first arrive at a destination where WIFI is non-existence and even electricity is limited, it may feel overwhelming and give you some anxiety about feeling completely disconnected.

You may find it challenging to adapt to not being in constant communication with family members or friends who you touch base with on a daily basis.

Additionally, depending on the location of your vacation, limited access to technology also means limited access to information, which can sometimes be important. If something major and newsworthy happens in the world, you may not hear about it until your trip is over.

Finally, because we are all so used to having our phones as a source of entertainment, not having a phone or a television, may lead to potential boredom, especially when daily activities are over and the night is winding down.

Conclusion | Why we’ll take more tech free trips

A rare photo from our first tech free trip – that won’t be our last!

Occasionally, we all need a break from technology to evaluate our priorities and make sure our lives and daily activities reflect those priorities.

We we return home from a tech free trip, I am more cognizant of how much time I spend on the computer or on my phone. I make it a point to look at my husband when he talks, even if I am right in the middle of writing a text or an email. Now, I leave my phone in another room and read books to my daughter, and I set limits on the amount of time spent on social media.

Overall, my family is my number one priority. I want that to be evident in how I choose to spend my time. It took traveling to a place where technology wasn’t available to realize it was consuming a big piece of real estate in my day.

While I still admittedly spend a lot time on the computer or on my phone, I like to think my daily technology use has been downgraded to a small apartment instead of occupying the mansion I had let it overtake for so long.

Like it? Pin this guide to taking a technology free vacation to save it for later!

Have you ever taken a technology-free vacation? We’d love to hear your experience. Tell us about it in the comments below.

Did you know…

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This guide to taking a technology free vacation was first written in 2016 but was recently updated for accuracy and current information.

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7 comments on “Technology Free Vacation | What It is and Why You Need One”

Our phones not working is always a favorite part of vacationing outside the country! Well, not without wifi, and typically when in another country we’re too busy exploring to be confined to a place with wifi for long. We said “Man, it feels great not to be tied to our phones or worry about email” a million times while in Europe (and since that was pre-baby, we had no guilt or sense of I-need-to-check-in). Sure, we still had blow dryers and TV (although in French/Italian/Spanish, mostly), but the disconnection from our phones/social media was amazing.

The same goes for disconnecting from cars. I drive approximately 2.5 hours (round trip) each day, and one of the best parts of traveling is not having to do that. We fell in love with trains and subways in Europe, and I miss it every day. I’d give anything to be able to commute using mass transit!

We loved the rail service in Europe too! The US is extremely behind the times when it comes to mass transit. Despite our love for traveling by train in Europe, next month we are actually going to drive. It’s just easier with a toddler not to have to worry about her disturbing other passengers. The other advantage is that we can stop and explore some of the lesser visited areas along the way.

It is! It’s crazy how something designed to make life easier can actually make it more difficult.

There is nothing more refreshing than going somewhere without your phone I find, even if it is accidentally. Sometimes I look down and my phone is in my hand completely subconsciously which really freaks me out! This post is a great reminder that sometimes we need to stop scrolling mindlessly in the morning through instagram and actually take in what is around us. Really great read!

I am the same way! Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m on my phone because it’s just habit. So it was refreshing to go somewhere that forced us to put our phones down and truly be in the moment.

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