With the stress of being constantly connected, whether we’re working, reading the news, or catching up with friends, more and more people are looking for a digital detox and scheduling a vacation has become vital to our well being. Only, vacations can’t give us the kind of rest and relaxation we need if we stay leashed to our phone. So, based on a global study that examined people’s use of technology while on vacation, Intel Security challenged me to do a digital detox and unplug to see if it can be done. Challenge accepted! Since I’m typically all over social media whenever I travel, eliminating screen time is definitely a stretch for me.
Research Says You Need To Unplug
One of the things Intel Security discovered in their research was that more than half of participants (55%) who intended to unplug from digital devices on vacation were not successful in doing so (I’m guilty of this). Not only is unplugging beneficial to truly relaxing and being in-the-moment, but it can also reduce your security risk since cyber criminals scan social information and updates to monitor when you’re away and at your weakest point to defend against an attack.
So, whether you’re doing a digital detox at home or need that extra nudge to be fully in the moment during your well-earned vacation (as I do), here are my tips on how to prep for a digital detox and stay unplugged.
How To Prep For A Digital Detox
— Set an auto reply on your email — and mean it!
When I get auto email replies from my friends that live in Europe, I know I won’t be hearing from them until the end of their vacation as they take their holiday time seriously. We Americans should too! So, set up that auto reply and stick to it. Don’t check your email. I know some phones won’t let you delete the email app, so hide it in an obscure folder if you think you’ll be tempted. When writing your auto reply, you don’t have to be specific about where you are or what you’re doing. It can even say, “We’re doing a digital detox this week. If you need me, call me. Otherwise I’ll respond on ____.”
— Post that you’ll be doing a digital detox to hold yourself accountable.
You’ll be more likely to stick to your digital detox plan if you know your friends and followers on social media will be watching to see if you stick to it. Just like with the email, for security and peace of mind there is no need to say where you’re going, especially if you’re just hiding out at home for a staycation. Just a simple post like, “We’re doing a digital detox for 2 days …” Use the hashtag #Unplugging and you might even inspire a few others to do the same.
— Delete your social media apps from your phone to reduce temptation.
Yes, that means physically removing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, and any other social app you compulsively use. Don’t cringe, you can easily add them back to your phone by syncing it to your computer when your digital detox is done. Like I mentioned above, some email apps are unable to be deleted from phones, so instead, hide the icon in an obscure folder so it’s not so noticeable.
Think you’ll miss sharing your vacation photos with friends and family at home? Remember, you can always post the photos later. Believe me, it’s much more fun and memorable to experience things live in-the-moment rather than looking through the lens of your camera or phone.
— Pack non-digital tools to document your vacation and keep yourself entertained.
Bring a camera instead of just using your phone to take photos. Pick out an inspiring travel journal to document your activities and thoughts. Also, pack that book you’ve always been meaning to read or adult coloring book you haven’t touched in months. This is what vacations were like in the 90s. They were active, fun, relaxing, and you couldn’t see the photos until you took your film roll to the local pharmacy to be developed. And even then, you had to wait at least 24 hours to see them! Go make some memories instead of social shares. You can do it!
— Don’t turn this into an excuse to “Netflix and Chill.”
Disconnected from your phone shouldn’t be an excuse to binge watch your favorite shows over the weekend. If your vacation gets rained out, or if you’re doing a digital detox at home, try something new and look for classes you can sign up for like cooking or some sort of handicraft. Whenever you learn a new skill, you’re forced to be in the moment and engage all of your senses. Plus, you’ll feel accomplished when it’s done!
If you’re able to stick it out during a digital detox, Intel Security’s research survey found that 65% of participants claimed their vacation was more enjoyable as they were able to absorb your surroundings and feel less stress. Who doesn’t want a more enjoyable vacation? Also, if you need more motivation, consider the fact that by decreasing the personal information you digitally share, you also decrease the level of vulnerability and associated security risks that come with oversharing.
And just so you know your’e not alone in this endeavor, Intel Security invited me to participate in an Unplugging Challenge and pledge to unplug during my next long weekend getaway. So, Pete and I picked a remote place and will be documenting the trip in a notebook (old school paper style!) to report back here later and share our experience. Intel Security said that roughly 88% of survey respondents admitted that it did not stress them out that they were unplugged from work and life back at home … I think I’m in that small 12% because the idea of disconnecting really makes me feel uneasy. But I’m going to give it a try. And if I can do it, you can do it.
Let’s all pledge to do a digital detox this year. If you’ve done one, comment below and let us know what you learned and how you felt when it was done. Use the hashtag #Unplugging to share your experience and results (after your digital detox, of course.)
Disclosure: This post was done in partnership with Intel Security. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and enthusiasm for travel are entirely my own.