A lot of places worth going to don’t get a signal, and hopefully never will.
Who doesn’t like to get away from it all? Yet how many of us actually do?
The omnipresence of digital access has created a world of instant connections and constant stimulation. Many people like it that way; they feel disconnected and disoriented without their trusty devices. But even self-confessed technology junkies are starting to see the advantage of a bit of alone time away from their gadgets to reconnect with own imagination and achieve a bit of Zen.
Thankfully, there are still a few places where smartphones, laptops, mp3 players and GPS just don’t work. Places like a remote lake tucked away deep in cottage county, hiking trails high in the mountains or the Great Barrier Reef. Sorry, no signal! There’s also a burgeoning trend catering to the diehard techie who might not be ready to tackle K2 but who’s still seeking a quiet haven away from the digital buzz where they can cleanse their mind and revive their senses.
Some hotels and resorts* are starting to offer “digital detox” packages, which require guests to either leave their electronic devices at home or relinquish them to the hotel safe for the duration of their stay. To help stave off any technology withdrawals, they sweeten the pot with in-room board games, self-guided walking tour maps and vouchers to local book stores.1 The message behind the invitation: exercise the paper-loving part of your brain for a while!
The intellectual benefits of “unplugging” may be fairly easy to surmise, but researchers are discovering that there are also tangible health benefits to a return to paper-based diversions. According to a study conducted by cognitive neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis, reading a book even for as little as six minutes can reduce stress levels by 68%.2 “By losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world... This is more than merely a distraction but an active engaging of the imagination as the words on the printed page stimulate your creativity.”
Print also has the power to revive a sense of adventure and challenge those of us who have come to rely on step-by-step directions to that charming country inn and where to eat when we get there. With the classic road atlas, there’s no voice urging us to go one way or another, or system recalculating how to get us back on our original course if we get sidetracked. We’re free to change your route on a whim and see where the road takes us. The map will still get us where we need to go, it’s just a bit less bossy...
Freedom to think is becoming one of life’s fleeting pleasures, as our overcharged minds struggle to balance the demands of our work and home lives. Through the centuries, people of all ages have used a journal or diary to write down their reflections on the day’s events and share their thoughts on everything from who has a crush on who, to the current political landscape to an idea for an ingenious new invention. The world has gained treasured insight from reading such works by people like Ann Frank, Lewis and Clark, and Leonardo Da Vinci. And while your journal might not change the course of human events, it can provide you with a means to privately express your feelings – whether of joy, sadness or frustration. For kids, it can also be a learning tool where they write about topics of personal interest, note their observations, imagine, wonder and connect new information with things they already know.3
Taking a pen to paper can lead to so many places, even back to a time when friendship was something that wasn’t managed via text message or voice mail. A handwritten note or invitation, dropped in the mail and delivered to the home of a loved one is surprising and meaningful in this age where words can be deleted at a keystroke. A “real” card conveys the feeling that you’ve taken the time – and the person on the receiving end may just keep your note “forever”.4
Set yourself free to go where no signal can, where the only roaming is in your mind or at the end of your pen. Who knows where you might go and what you might find...
1 Tergesen, Anne. When Guests Check In, Their iPhones Check Out
Wall Street Journal, July 5, 2011
2 Reading Can Help Reduce Stress. The Telegraph, March 30, 2009
3 Instructional strategies online
4 About Greeting Cards - General Facts
* Some of the hotels and travel providers offering “digital detox” packages: Via Yoga; The Cove Atlantis in the Bahamas; The Quincy Hotel in Washington, DC; The Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel; Hotel Monaco Chicago; Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa in Teton Village, Wyoming; and the Lake Placid Lodge in Lake Placid, New York.