It’s a typical vacation conundrum for the increasingly tech-dependent among us: bring the laptop and smartphone to stay connected to the office or disconnect completely and come back to an out-of-control inbox and fallout from a plethora of unanticipated catastrophes?
Of course, not everyone has a problem leaving work behind, but plenty of vacationers handicap themselves by spending more time trying to document their experiences of relaxation than actually relaxing. How many of us, like The New York Times’ Nick Bilton, have missed out on the true magic of a spectacular sunset by peering at it through a small screen while trying to compose the perfect photo?
The idyllic Caribbean nation St. Vincent and the Grenadines recently joined the growing movement to make vacations not only breaks from work, but also respites from technology. The country made news this month when it rolled out a digital-detox vacation package. The seven-night getaway runs $3,799 per person, including airfare and hotel accommodations. Guests are asked to hand over their gadgets once they arrive at their resorts, some of which lack TVs and telephones — forcing visitors to really disconnect.
As tech reporter Samantha Murphy wrote in Mashable, the program anticipates visitors’ hesitation to pulling the virtual plug, offering a guidebook spelling out how to function without technology and providing access to a life coach for help reintegrating into the offline world.
The goal? “Actually experiencing a real vacation with human interaction, social skills, and quality time with family and friends.”
With an iPad, iPhone, netbook, and laptop crowding my home office, it’s difficult for me to simply leave the gadgets behind for an afternoon jaunt, let alone take a tech-free trip. But I’m rooting for the unplugged-vacation movement. I imagine that a few days off the grid every once in a while would have far more positive effects than negative.
And, really, anything that keeps me from seeing photo-rich Facebook updates from friends hanging out on tropical beaches while I’m stuck at home is worthy of my support.