Do you think you could quit social media, texts and emails and have a real vacation? Have a vacation where you’re not interrupted by your smart phone every few minutes, but instead are present in the here and now in the place you’re visiting?
I read about this concept on the Medical Express website from the UK called “Study reveals the emotional journey of a digital detox while travelling,” provided by the University of East Anglia. They did a study on how people are affected by disconnecting when they’re on vacation. People have different responses and some go through anxiety while others are more overwhelmed when they reconnect. Many people felt their experience on vacation was much better without social media if they were out in the wilderness or rural areas. People who vacationed in cities were stressed without map apps.
Here’s an excerpt:
New research reveals the emotional journey that tourists go on when they disconnect from technology and social media while travelling.
The study, by the University of East Anglia (UEA), University of Greenwich and Auckland University of Technology (AUT), investigated how engaging in digital-free tourism impacted travellers’ holiday experiences. It involved losing access to technologies such as mobile phones, laptops, tablets, the Internet, social media and navigation tools.
The researchers, who also took part in the study themselves, examined participants’ emotions before they disconnected, during their disconnection, and after they reconnected.
Published in the Journal of Travel Research, the findings show there were initial anxiety, frustration and withdrawal symptoms among many of the travellers, but later growing levels of acceptance, enjoyment, and even liberation.
The findings come as the demand for so-called ‘digital detox’ holidays is on the rise. Lead author Dr. Wenjie Cai, from the University of Greenwich Business School, said: “In the current ever-connected world, people are used to constant information access and various services provided by different applications.
“However, many people are increasingly getting tired of constant connections through technologies and there is a growing trend for digital-free tourism, so it is helpful to see the emotional journey that these travellers are experiencing.
“Our participants reported that they not only engaged more with other travellers and locals during their disconnected travels, but that they also spent more time with their travel companions.”
As well as looking at emotions Dr. Cai, working with Dr. Brad McKenna of UEA’s Norwich Business School and Dr. Lena Waizenegger from AUT, used the theory of affordance to understand the loss or gain of technological opportunities while travellers engage in digital-free tourism. For example, Google Maps affords navigation and when taken away, the participants lost the ability to navigate, which caused anxiety for some.
Dr. McKenna said the findings have valuable implications for tour operators and destination management organisations to gain a better understanding of travellers’ emotions when developing ‘off-the-grid’ packages or tech-savvy tour products.
This reminds me of our cabin in the Pacific Northwest. We had no running water but a pump. No shower, but an ice cold river, and no TV or electricity of any kind. Plus, an outhouse instead of indoor plumbing.
My parents would take us up there for long weekends and we were fully engaged with shooting down the rapids on air mattresses, fishing for small rainbow trout, and jumping off the rock into the swimming hole. Mom and dad let my brother and me invite friends and that was even more fun to share the experience with them.
Mom used to joke that it was a perfect marriage test. She said that when we found “the one” we should spend five days to a week with them at the cabin. My husband and I went early on and we did just fine. We’re still married 34 years later, so I guess my mom was right.
Article excerpts: ‘Turning it off: Emotions in Digital-Free Travel’ Wenjie Cai, Brad McKenna and Lena Waizenegger, is published in the Journal of Travel Research on August 14, 2019.
Provided by University of East Anglia
If you’ve disconnected from electronics during vacation, how did you feel? If you haven’t tried it, do you think someday you could take a digital detox?