Traveling to Unplug

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Eighty percent of smartphone users do not leave home without their device.

In the United Kingdom, 13 million people suffer from “Nomophobia” – no mobile phobia – and feel anxious when their cell phone is lost or out of service.

By 2015, the global average number of business emails sent and received per day, per person, will increase from 105 to 125.

Why should you care?

Because we’re addicted to our technology!

RELATED: 4 Simple Tips for Unplugging

The tourism industry is responding with digital detox vacations – your chance to say sayonara to all of your technological ties. Well, at least for a little while.

Staff at The Digital Detox use yoga, meditation, healthy food and serene settings to bring travelers into a comfortable state of personal exploration. The company plans three- to five-day wellness retreats in destinations from California to Cambodia. On day one, they ask participants to hand over their phones and tech gear.

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“There is often a feeling of unease, but underlying that is excitement,” says Ben Hanna, coordinator with The Digital Detox. “They go through phases. People worry that they’ll miss something important. Eventually, they become comfortable with it.”

How do they calm guests’ nerves about the handoff?

“We focus their attention on what is happening now, not what they just turned off,” he explains. “Getting outside is incredibly fun, and most of us don’t do it enough. Participants are spending time next to a bubbling creak, on a mountain, or overlooking a meadow. They’re living in the moment.”

The organization treats these vacations like traditional recovery programs to the degree that they remove triggers from participants’ lives for a period of time. By breaking up their normal routines, The Digital Detox allows travelers to avoid that feeling of “need” for their e-communications.

RELATED: 10 Wellness Retreats for Every Type of Traveler

After conducting their own independent study, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Tourism Authority discovered that nearly 50 percent of travelers felt tied down by technology. In response, the organization partnered with Black Tomato to offer unplugged travel experiences.

“We wanted to challenge travelers to focus on the well-being of the mind and body,” says Glen Beache, CEO of SVG tourism. “By unplugging from their devices, they can have a real vacation – one focused on human interaction.”

Trips are designed to completely wean people off technology and include a guidebook on how to “de-tech.” The seven-night getaway includes flights from New York City, accommodations on Young Island and Palm Island, and a private catamaran day transfer.

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Even hotels are doing their part to improve guest wellness. In the United States, Hotel Monaco in Chicago offers a tranquility suite and technology break package, and the Quincy in Washington, D.C. offers a “Be Unplugged” special.

Abroad, The Westin Dublin can stash your electronics in a safe and in exchange give you a “survival kit” that includes a board game, walking map, and tree-planting kit. In the Caribbean and Mexico, Marriott Resorts are rolling out “Braincation Zones.” These designated areas encourage guests to disconnect and enjoy their surroundings with magazines, books, and flavored water.

“We are all victims of life’s hustle and bustle,” says Beache. “Every now and again, it’s healthy to take a step back and unwind with a vacation.”

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