Is Digital Detox Travel ever really practical?

For many folks, a detox sounds appealing but not entirely practical; you might not want to be completely out of reach of your petsitter, your ailing mother or your kids in their first week of college, for instance.

And it is not a trivial concern to worry about the emails, voicemails, texts, work contacts, and other issues big and small piling up while you unplug, waiting to ambush you when you reconnect. Disconnecting for several days only to be forced to sit at your computer for 16 hours straight when you get back isn’t necessarily a good outcome of disconnecting, and could all but obliterate the beneficial effects of the detox within mere hours.

There might even be some things you really cherish about digital connectivity that could be unfair to characterize as digital addiction. For example, when I am flying, one of my favorite things to do is track the flight plan so I know what I am looking at out the window. Not all airlines offer a flight tracking option in the in-flight entertainment, so I often try to follow along using my phone’s GPS.

To me, this doesn’t feel like I am indulging in digital addiction; it feels more like it did when I was following along with road maps on family trips when I was a kid as our family’s designated navigator. Giving this up isn’t really something I care to do, detox or not; if I could take a huge atlas along, I would do it, but there goes traveling light.

So if a full digital detox is not what you have in mind, there are plenty of ways to unplug while traveling that will offer many of the benefits of a detox without a full digital blackout. Possible approaches might include:

  1. Setting aside a short time each day to check all the stuff you would normally check, but with a time limit
  1. Alternating days on and off of digital access
  1. Putting your phone in “airplane mode” whenever you’re outside your hotel room or for a set amount of time each day

You get the idea. You set the terms of the detox according to what is going to work best -and then don’t cheat

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