Are you fed up of constantly checking your mobile, laptop or iPad for emails? Maybe it’s time for a digital detox break? The Great Destinations Radio Show spoke with two holiday businesses devoted to getting you off your devices!
Vincent Dupin from Into The Tribe says he’s operating the first travel agency offering digital detox breaks in Europe. And he’s armed with facts showing how gadgets are taking over our lives.
“Europeans check their inbox every five minutes and their smartphones 150 times a day,” Vincent tells me. As he reels off the statistics, I try and work out how often I check for messages. “78% of us connect first thing in the morning. It’s an addiction and a problem.”
“So do people start fidgeting and getting uncomfortable when they can’t access their gadgets during your breaks?” I ask.
“No,” says Vincent, “because I provide a lot of activities and they can meet other people and share their passions.” Into The Tribe retreats in France, Portugal and Greece are in secluded properties without Wi-Fi. So yes – you can get nice hotels that are not online in 2016! Vincent puts on events and activities so his clients forget about Facebook and Twitter. They include wake boarding, paddling, yoga, meditation, cooking, caving, snorkelling and hiking.
Just in case guests succumb to temptation or find a Wi-Fi network drifting in from another location, Vincent installs an app on his guests’ phones at the beginning of their break. It means that they can call their family or relatives, but they will have no access to any other apps or social networks.
Vincent insists that his guests aren’t burned out but they recognise that it is important to take a break. Many are busy professionals – lawyers, entrepreneurs, designers and business people – living in big cities and aged between 22 and 40 years of age. Sometimes couples visit together. Guests are sent home refreshed and with advice for the future. Vincent tells them to avoid being connected first thing in the morning, before sleeping and certainly not during social events.
Offline Portugal encourages people to get off the net at their Algarve retreat, just 75 minutes from Faro airport. I spoke to Barbara and Rita.
Barbara explained that they encourage music making as a way to get their guests off their devices. “We have loads of instruments in the house and we organise jam sessions. We also run surf classes daily and we have a yoga instructor based here for sessions. It’s a little community. Our solo travellers end up making friends when they stay with us as they bond with the other guests and staff.”
Like Vincent, Rita is worried about the impact of technology. “iPhones bring us a lot of stress,” she says. “They also disconnect us from people who are very close to us. It’s very visible when you go to restaurants and bars and see people gathering around the table. They’re not talking to each other any more. They’re on their mobile phones or devices.”
The hotel gives out contact telephone numbers and address which guests can pass on to friends and family. That’s because some contacts can actually become alarmed when their online acquaintances suddenly cease social media activity. “We encourage them to leave their phones, iPads and digital equipment in the safe that we have built for those items. We lock it and we give each guest a key,” says Rita.