11 days. No phone. No internet. Bliss!

A year ago, I went on holiday and, for the first time ever, switched my phone off for the entire 7 day trip. It made the holiday in Fiji that much better, and it was an eye opening experience.

So when powering down my iPhone on the Sydney runway in a plane heading to Bali for our 11 day family holiday, I was looking forward to another serious ‘digital detox’. No distractions, no work, no social media.

This time round, I found myself settling into holiday mode much faster with little to no withdrawal symptoms. Here are some of my observations, and thoughts:

  • Backpackers today all have MacBooks and Selfie Sticks! Wow, there were a lot of Selfie Sticks. No one needs to ask for help anymore, no need to interact. Sad.
  • The kids can actually have fun without technology! Madness.
  • You really don’t need to know what is happening in the world every minute of the day. It will literally make no difference if you miss out on something by say half a day or, imagine, a whole day.
  • It was great to see a lot of people actually reading books (real books too). I finished two books this holiday (the first two books this year!).
  • I read the paper over breakfast most mornings. Mainly just to catch up on news from yesterday, and find out the football results (two good wins for the Reds, now that made me smile).
  • We woke up each morning, and simply enjoyed the actual morning. No instant ‘checking in’. We prepared for the day, talked about it and focussed on each other.
  • We used our instincts each day with no Google, Weather Apps, TripAdvisor, iPhone maps etc to guide us. We had to work out what to do by planning with a Lonely Planet in hand, and actually ‘talking’ and interacting with people (asking for tips and recommendations), and also looking around and sensing our environment. We explored with a little bit of uncertainty each day. I know, right?!
  • We used a digital camera. A digital camera! Strangest thing ever, you could not touch the screen or anything? You could hardly see the photo taken, as the screen was too small, so you didn’t bother. We just snapped photos, and moved on. We checked all the photos when we got home, and uploaded them to Facebook once the holiday was finished. Old school.

I should note that my wife had her phone with her, and would check in each evening (we had a house sitter looking after our dog and two cats). We did end up FaceTiming, as our cat, Chai, had a nasty accident and needed an operation. She’s fine now. We also had to check in with Jetstar on our final day as a nearby volcano had a minor eruption and flights had been cancelled (we learned this from fellow guests over breakfast). We got back without delay.

I would thoroughly recommend that everyone give it a go. Put the mobile away on holiday. If you are thinking of doing it, here are some simple tips:

/ Prepare at work – make sure there are as few as possible loose ends for the duration of the holiday. Be organised, and try to delegate. I do appreciate it is not always that straightforward.

/ Tell people – make sure your colleagues and clients know that you are going to be completely offline. Also, clearly state so in your ‘Out of Office’ message.

/ Put your phone in the hotel safe. Out of sight, out of mind.

Now, I completely appreciate that not everyone can do this. However, if you can, do it! Remember your mental health and ability to relax and enjoy your break is far more important than work.

Do you have any stories or tips for ‘switching off’? If so, please share them.

Thanks for reading,

Kai Schindlmayr

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