Travelling in the olden days, by which I mean 10 years ago, used to mean guaranteed internet-free periods. You’d have to seek out a fluorescent-lit hole filled with god-forsaken PCs struggling along on Windows 98. Nowadays, a laptop is almost as common as Imodium on every traveller’s packing list. A hostel without wi-fi is like a cafe without coffee, and travellers sit fixed to their Facebooks or downloaded episodes of Breaking Bad.
I’m not being disparaging. Steve and I are part of this crew. In fact, between us we have two laptops, an iPad, a Kindle (2 until Steve’s was nabbed on a bus) and two iPhones. Our jobs require computers, and wi-fi has enabled us to take our careers on the road – but that doesn’t mean we sometimes dream of a world without it.
It feels like an addiction – compulsively checking email and social media, and scanning reams of information day in and day out, even on our days off. We worked out that in the 200 days we’ve been travelling, only one of those was 100% internet free and that was when we were deep into Bolivia’ s desert. There was even internet on Isla del Sol.
So, when we decided to have a little holiday in October, we added an extra rule – it would be an internet-free time. We would enforce a five-day digital detox.
Steve had spent the last few weeks deep in work and I’d had a digital overload after two travel blogging conferences on the trot. It was definitely time to unplug and unwind – but how would we cope without our laptops?
We found the perfect location in Izhcayluma in Vilcabamba, a luxury spa hostel at budget prices. With gorgeous views across the valley, massages on site, a swimming pool and pool table, it was the perfect place to relax. Vilcabamba also happens to be a mecca for healthy-living (as well as radiation-fearers and conspiracy theorists, but more on that later).
The trials of a digital detox
But despite this, it was still harder than we thought to let go of our internet ties – especially checking our email. In fact, in-between horse-riding, spa treatments and games of chess, I confess I did break our fast once or twice. Force of habit prevailed, I woke up and opened my iPad. I didn’t do any work or hit reply, but I did check-in.
My lapse was disappointing. I really wanted to switch off 100% but with wi-fi available, I found it too hard to resist. I lacked the self-discipline or motivation to be completely strict – but starting next week, I’m going to have no choice. I’m doing a month-long yoga course in the Mexican jungle. I’ll have access to the internet once or twice a week but there’s no connection where I’m staying and the training schedule is intense. Instead of a self-enforced detox with wi-fi at hand, I’ll be truly internet-free.
You’ll still see me online from time to time. I have posts scheduled and, like I said, I’ll be checking in once or twice a week for maybe an hour at a time. It’ll be the least amount of internet-time I’ve had in maybe 10 years. How will that feel? I really don’t know. Vilcabamba was a beautiful taster, but this time is hardcore. Let the experiment begin… And I’ll be sure to let you know the results (that is unless I’m transformed and have sworn of the net forever!)
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Useful info on Vilcabamba
Izhcayluma Hosteria is gorgeous and highly recommended. We’ve written a full review of Izhcayluma but highlights include the spa (a 60 minute massage is around $20), the incredible sweeping views and the food – we were completely blown away by the homemade tempeh and went back after our holiday for more. Thanks to Raik for inviting us to stay there [/callout]