Digital Detox: How to Put Down Your Devices and Enjoy Your Vacation
April 23, 2021
By Danielle Owen

Are you comfortable with the amount of time you spend looking at your phone? Between your cell phone, computer and tablet, what percentage of your day is spent staring at a screen? While we frequently justify the time we spend on our devices during the week—for work, communication with family members, everyday tasks—what about on vacation?

In addition to de-stressing from everyday life, many of us want to use our vacation time to detox from the digital world as well. But when you’re in the habit of using the internet for practically everything, a digital detox can feel nearly impossible. Additionally, the thought of not being ‘connected’ can be its own source of anxiety for some people.

The biggest aid in a digital detox vacation is often mindfulness— a skill that doesn’t happen overnight. If you want to make sure your upcoming vacation is as phone-free as possible, start practicing mindfulness before you leave.

Mindfulness doesn’t have to mean meditation, though meditation is certainly helpful. Mindfulness, when it comes to technology, can be cultivated in many ways.

Outside of the obvious out-of-office emails, here are a few great ways to practice technology mindfulness and stay off your phone on your next vacation.

1. Do Not Disturb

We’ve all become conditioned to grab our phone the second it makes a noise or vibrates in our pocket. This is one of the main reasons that Americans pick up their phones, on average, a whopping 12 times per hour. And most will continue to putz around on their phone even after they’ve responded to the text or read the email.

Do Not Disturb helps you regain control over when and why you pick up your cell. If you’re worried about emergencies, Do Not Disturb mode is capable of disabling itself for individual numbers or when any number calls you more than once.

Similarly, if you find yourself not able to commit to Airplane Mode or Do Not Disturb, try turning your phone off entirely.

2. Don’t get an international plan or a local SIM

While in a new place, it’s easy to feel like you need access to the internet in case of emergencies. In actuality, people have been surviving in foreign places for thousands of years. Set yourself up for digital-detox success by not purchasing an international plan or local SIM card. This will help make you less inclined to be on your phone while on vacation. If you’re ever in a pinch, there are very few places around the world without easily accessible wifi these days.

3. Research the old school way

While you may be tempted to grab your phone to look up the Yelp score of every restaurant you pass, try finding a good restaurant the old-fashioned way. Speak with some locals, whether it’s the concierge at your hotel or your walking tour guide, and ask them where they like to eat. Beyond that, ask them where they like to go and what they like to do in their city in their free time. You’ll frequently discover secretly delicious sidestreet restaurants or peaceful neighborhood parks.

4. Replace your device

Every time you find yourself mindlessly scrolling while on vacation, have a replacement object ready to go. Keep a book on you at all times, or a crossword puzzle, or a bottle of wine. Whatever brings you joy, have it handy to turn your attention to in moments of downtime on vacation, whether you’re laying on the beach in the Bahamas or sitting in a cafe in Paris.

Especially for solo travelers, your phone can feel like a comfort blanket. Remember that it’s okay to feel a little awkward sometimes. You’re very likely the only one who notices or cares. No one is sitting around judging you for enjoying some screen-free vacation time. If anything, it’s probably the opposite.

While you may feel disconnected, you’ll quickly find that you’re actually more connected to the world, and on a much deeper level, when you’re offline.

About the Author

Danielle Owen
Danie is a full-time traveler and freelance travel writer. She’s been on-the-move since 2015 from Albania to Zambia (and 70+ others in between). She’s developed a very sophisticated algorithm that evaluates countries based on a thorough analysis of their wine, hot sauce, local friendliness, and how hard she happy-cries at their nature. You can find her portfolio at or her photos on Instagram @danieelizabeth