Smartphones, iPads, laptops, iPods and TVs have become an ever-present force in our lives. They are constantly with us, from the music we wake up to, to that last e-mail we send just before bed. We never realize how much we check Facebook or update our twitter or send e-mails until our Internet access is gone and we are left reaching helplessly for our nonexistent laptops.
Our phones have become weightless extensions of our hands, only to be noticed if they run out of battery or (god-forbid!) we leave them at home. They are so constant, many of us may not even realize the huge role they play in our lives. That is, of course, until they are taken away and we are forced to function without instant access to a world of information.
Technology-free vacations are aiming to do just that- take away our high-tech toys in exchange for a truly relaxing vacation (once you get over the withdrawal symptoms).
Possible 'crackberry' or smartphone detox may include:
-Cold sweats and/or panic attacks
-Compulsive pocket checking for phone (usually followed by a spike in blood pressure when you realize you don't have said phone)
-Irritability and possible adult temper-tantrums
-Feelings of loss or detachment from the world around you
Don't worry, the first 24 hours are the worst. Be strong!
Whether the tech-free vacation is your idea or your family's, there are resorts and hotels that encourage- if not enforce- technology-free getaways. These places ask you to surrender your technological devices upon check-in in exchange for board games, bikes and boogie boards to get you outside and out of your head.
Check out some of these un-plugged places:
Little Palm Island Resort & Spa is located in the Florida Keys and is an adults-only resort. It's also technology free - and we mean free! In addition to the regular culprits, they have designated no TV, no radio and no alarm clock.
Tensing Pen in Negril, Jamaica, is a family resort right on the waters of the Caribbean that offers endless activities like mountain biking, scuba diving, parasailing and an in-house spa to replace TV's, phones and music players.
Si Como No Resort, Spa and Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica is a great place to forget about technology and remember Mother Nature. The resort is surrounded by acres of natural beauty so you'll never be bored enough to miss your computer.
The Ranch at Live Oak in Malibu, California is a first-class resort that aims to cleanse guests of all the toxins in their life- not just the digital ones. Along with no call service or Wi-Fi on the property, this "luxury boot camp" focuses on fitness, nutrition, weight loss and detox through daily exercises including hiking and yoga sessions as well as a strict vegetarian diet.
Give it a few days and you'll be wondering why we ever stopped using maps, playing monopoly or reading the newspaper instead of hunching over one screen after another.
If you are still tempted to smuggle in your smartphone in the folds of your suite case, try vacationing somewhere out of cell phone range. Try camping in the mountains or hiking in a gorge; go beyond the far corners of your service provider's reach and enter the startling quiet of nature.
To ensure you have a great time away, here are some ideas.
Tips for a tech-free getaway:
-If you want to start the tech-ban early, it means no GPS. Bring a map, though you may have to re-learn how to read one first!
-Let your office, family and friends know you'll be unavailable for the week so you won't be fired or reported as a missing person.
-Be sure that you have plenty of other things to do. Without the technology in your life, you will have lots of space that you feel must be filled. Bring board games, car games, cards and anything else you can think of.
-Swap your digital camera for a film operated one. You remember how those work, don't you?
-If you simply can't go cold turkey, make an effort to reduce; choose one of everything to take along, one cell phone for the family in case of emergencies, and one computer to check email along the way and set time limits for when and how long you can use them.
-Write down emergency phone numbers and contacts that would normally be programmed into your phone.
-Bring along a journal to record your week of relaxation.
-Plan ahead; research activities or attractions around you to fill the time you would normally be on your laptop or phone.
-Take a breath, your gadgets will still be at home waiting for you when you return.