Laptop. iPad. Samsung Galaxy. Nokia Lumia. Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. Email. As a journalist by day and travel blogger by night, I’m nearly always connected to a device, or the internet (or both).
So what happens when you remove all of the above? Complete relaxation, that’s what.
While my phone is already off-limits at family dinners and coffee catch-ups with friends, it had been a long time since I completely disconnected from the internet. Then came my Kenyan adventure, and the unintentional digital detox.
On arrival at our hotel at Diani Beach, we discovered that internet was only available in the reception for a few hours in the evening. Even then, with unreliable electricity, it ran very slowly. Some guests found this cause for complaint, but I quickly saw it as one to celebrate.
Spending time sans-internet felt like the pre-mobile phone days when the only way of contacting people at home while on holiday was by writing a postcard, when your focus was the here-and-now, the holiday you had waited (im)patiently for all school year.
Without interfering pings being emitted from a phone or iPad, we could really be in the moment and experience everything the country had to offer without unwanted distraction. It was wonderfully freeing, and allowed for complete and utter relaxation. With a setting is as spectacular as the Kenyan coast, you wouldn’t want to do anything else but relax.
Of course, the digital detox went out the window when all the British guests were told they were being evacuated: the internet stayed on all evening as people emailed and called home to update their families on what was happening.
Technology and social media are essential for both my day job and this blog – there’s no way I could (or would) cut it out completely – but a bit of that relaxing coastal atmosphere has lingered. Since returning, I’ve taken to switching my phone off when I go to sleep, leaving it at home if I’m taking a solo walk on the beach, and purposefully putting it on silent in another room if I’m getting stuck into a good book.
Whether at home or abroad, it’s important to pay attention to the people and places around you, and experience the moment fully – not only through Instagram filters or Facebook updates. The unintentional digital detox that began in Kenya has become one of intention back in Britain, and now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.