Some studies have shown that disconnecting from the digital world may help to reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure and even improve our immune systems. According to The Telegraph, one report from Public Health England associated excessive screen time (more than four hours per day) with depression and anxiety in children. On the other hand, another study from the University of Utah and Kansas, according to The Daily Mail, found that participants scored 50 percent higher on a “creativity test” after spending four days exploring nature without connecting to any electronic devices. Of course, because so many of us rely on technology for our work, the best time to disconnect completely is while you’re on vacation. So, for your next trip you might consider a destination like one of the following, where cell service is limited or entirely non-existent and the appeal of the surrounding natural beauty will easily trump any desire to connect with the digital world.
Smith Fork Ranch, situated at the base of the West Elk Mountain Ranch in Crawford, Colo. offers visitors the perfect chance to escape from their connection to the digital world amidst breathtaking landscapes and a wide array of outdoor activities. Cell service here is extremely limited and the entire property only has one TV. Internet only comes in the form of a landline connection that’s available in case of an emergency, but otherwise, guests are fully encouraged to disconnect and indulge in outdoor adventures such as horseback riding, fly fishing, white water rafting, hiking and mountain biking (to name a few).
Outfitters at Arizona River Runners invite guests to leave their cell phones behind as they embark on an adventure through the Grand Canyon and down the Colorado River. Trips last anywhere from three to 13 days, but all include whitewater rafting, canyon hikes, creek swimming and waterfall jumping. As an area with zero-connectivity, an escape to the Grand Canyon allows you to automatically unplug and as a result, reconnect not only with your travel companions, but also the great outdoors. “We see families communicating and experiencing life in a way they might never have done in the ubiquitous digital world,” says Kyle Seyler who works with Arizona River Runners.
According to Kristina Portillo, founder of the Business Travel Life blog, The Remote Resort on Fiji’s Vanua Levu is “small but pure luxury.” Accessible only by boat, Portillo says Wi-Fi is only available in one small bar, otherwise, your entire stay will leave you completely unconnected. “Once we arrived, technology was the last thing on our mind,” Portillo said. “It was so beautiful. The entire resort has been cleared and built by hand by the owners and local islanders.” She also noted that the resort was entirely uncrowded, as there were only eight other guests staying there during her visit and said that at one point, aside from the staff, her and her husband were the only people there. What’s more, the serene and scenic location lends an almost limitless opportunity for relaxing yet adventurous activities such as kayaking, fishing, snorkeling and diving in Rainbow Reef, which is widely regarded as the “coral capital of the world.”
Nike had its beginnings here and its sometimes referred to as Track Town USA, but even though it’s the state’s second largest city, doesn’t mean Eugene can’t offer a unique opportunity to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with the environment. Getting off the grid is easy when you have so many outdoor adventures to choose from. Like Big Bear Camp, which invites outdoor explorers to lodge in yurts and cabins, which are, of course, free of cell and internet service. Other nearby attractions include the Belknap and McCredie Hot Springs, hiking through the Cascades region, and exciting coastal activities including whale watching.
Situated about 70 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, River’s End Inn offers guests the chance to lodge in cozy cabins with stunning views of California’s Pacific coast. A stay here offers the chance to connect with your natural surroundings, as each of the rustic cabins are free of phones, TVs, radios, and cell and Internet service. Instead of answering emails or fidgeting with Facebook, you can explore Sonoma’s beautiful Wine Country or take a trip to the nearby Armstrong Redwoods National State Preserve for a chance to lose yourself within the majestic coastal redwoods.
What could be more remote than a private, uninhibited island paradise? Mozambique's Azura at Quilalea is surrounded by the pristine waters of the Quirimbas Archipelago marine sanctuary, making it one of the world’s most stunning diving and snorkeling destinations. Home to only nine seafront villas, guests are offered a true escape from the outside world and can detox digitally by focusing their attention towards the sea. In addition to diving visitors can partake in activities such as deep-sea fishing, whale shark watching and exploration of the historic Ibo Island—now almost entirely deserted it was once part of the spice trade route.
Nestled amidst Vancouver Island’s North West coast, Walters Cove Resort leaves visitors with no choice but to unplug, as the area naturally has no cell reception. Satellite Internet is available in case of an emergency, but other than that, a complete digital detox is essentially effortless here. Guests can spend their days fishing or exploring the Kyuquot Sound area with a local, aboriginal guide. Evening activities commonly include hiking to the beach for cozy campfires or kayak and paddle board rides for the chance to encounter the local sea otter and whale populations up close.
A newly launched Paddleboard Yoga Retreat offers CostaBaja Resort & Spa guests the chance to disconnect from the digital world while immersing themselves in the truly scenic surroundings of La Paz. The four-night package (which includes meals, open bar privileges and one spa treatment) features a full itinerary of paddleboard yoga, meditation, hiking and various water activities and promises to “breathe new life into your fitness routine” while “floating you to new levels of relaxation.”
“The best digital getaways for me are the mountains and islands,” says Nick Biggs, world traveler and husband to the creator and author of Have Fruit, Will Travel. He says that one of the best places for ditching your digital gadgets is Ko Phayam, a small island in Thailand that aside from a few nice resorts, consists mostly of simple beach bungalows that run on solar power. “Here the focus is on nature and the ocean and many of the resorts don't even offer Wi-Fi,” Biggs said. “The mornings in Ko Phayam are spent doing yoga or group fitness classes on the beach rather than Facebook and twitter.”
Sailing the scenic coast of Maine is one of the easiest and most relaxing ways to make sure that your cell phone (or any other digital device for that matter) won’t interrupt your digital detox. The Maine Windjammer Association boasts North America’s largest fleet of historic schooners and for several months each year offers adventurers the chance to embark on all-inclusive cruises aboard one of their many magnificently majestic vessels.
Home to 24 unspoiled white sand beaches and the natural beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia’s Lizard Island Resort (newly renovated and scheduled to open June 2015) is one destination that visitors can be sure is uninterrupted by the rest of the world. The private island has no cell phone reception, is only accessible by plane and is known for its breathtaking seascape vistas and, of course, reef activities such as snorkeling, diving and deep-sea game fishing. Although luxurious accommodations like five-star dining and spa amenities allow for a more modern vibe, guests here will still find that it’s easy to unplug and unwind as they’re immersed in a truly peaceful and scenic atmosphere.
There are no TVs in the rooms at The Singular Patagonia—apparently digital entertainment is highly overrated when you have an 18-foot floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the tremendously stunning landscape of Puerto Bories. Although the hotel offers complimentary Wi-Fi and satellite TV upon request, you’ll hardly remember it even exists, much less have time to connect, as you’ll spend your days hiking Torres del Paine National Park, kayaking on an open Fjord, horseback riding along the base of the Andes or sailing out to sea for a glimpse at glaciers.