If all of those hours spent online are catching up to you, you’re not alone. In a lot of ways, the world demands an online presence, fueling an underlying pressure to constantly know what’s happening in order to stay relevant. Because we are now spending more time online than ever before (23.6 hours a week on average, to be precise), it’s good to remember that balance is beneficial. It’s only healthy that we take a break from the digital world every now and then — to give our brains a break, to relax, and to let our curiosity wander outside the confines of a glowing screen.
So, where can we go to truly unplug? These days, “digital detoxes” are becoming a thing, as travel companies have begun tailoring wellness trips to help people disconnect and enjoy their travels free of digital distraction. But you don’t really need a tour company to unplug. You don’t need to leave your cellphone at home or travel to the farthest corners of the Earth either. Sometimes, all you need is some slow travel to help you unwind and forget about what’s happening on Instagram for a while. To help get your wanderlust rolling, we’ve compiled a list of eight places that will encourage you to unplug during your stay. Ready to sign off?
There’s a special solitude that comes with a visit to the American West. Maybe it’s the small, yet welcoming communities, or maybe it’s the vastness that exists between them. Either way, if you’re looking to relax and rejuvenate your senses, Montana should be your next stop. There are millions of acres of public lands to enjoy here, including the awe-inspiring vistas of Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park — places you won’t mind missing a phone call or two while exploring. This western state also harbors impressive and diverse landscapes, complete with snow-capped mountains, alpine lakes, grasslands, and natural hot springs — not to mention wildlife such as bison, elk, and an abundance of trout (fly-fishing is extremely popular here). After spending the day outdoors, relax and enjoy some small-town hospitality in cities like Bozeman, Butte, or Missoula. Whatever you do, don’t forget to take a quiet cruise down Going-to-the-Sun Road while you’re passing through!
Some fun facts about Bhutan: outside visitors and electricity weren’t introduced until the 1960s, and television and internet only became available in 1999. Unsurprisingly, Bhutan is still a bit behind digitally. And yet, this Buddhist kingdom seems more than okay with that, and it’s part of what makes traveling here so special.
Ever since its government allowed the outside world access within its borders, Bhutan has worked hard to preserve its culture. It made headlines a few decades ago when it announced the creation of a Gross National Happiness Index which, at the time, was said to be as important as its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). And today, ensuring that Bhutan doesn’t become overrun with tourists, the government charges visitors a daily rate to be there (roughly $250 dollars). Despite the price tag, though, Bhutan offers an experience unlike any other for those looking to truly unplug. Thanks to policies ensuring that 60 percent of the country remain forested and protected for future generations, Bhutan is the world’s only carbon-negative country, and a leader when it comes to combating climate change. Because of this, there are endless forests and ravines to explore; widespread Buddhism means that there are myriad monasteries to visit; and, unless you’re at your hotel, public WiFi isn’t widely accessible, encouraging you to focus on your surroundings. Here, you are forced to travel at the local pace and soak up your time in the Himalayan countryside.
Adirondack Mountains, New York, U.S.A
The Adirondack Mountains lie just a few hours north of New York City and serve as the perfect retreat for those in need of a break from the fast-paced digital world. The area — which covers one-third of the entire state — offers an array of outdoor activities such as hiking, canoeing and kayaking, and fishing. If you’re wondering when to visit, the mountains are especially picturesque in the fall, when the foliage bursts with color. And though day trips or overnight camping ventures are still options during this time of the year, we also suggest renting a cabin or cottage and taking a few days to really clear your head. That way, you can spend your evenings sans cell reception, relaxing around a fire with a good book or special company.
Located 15 miles (20 kilometers) off the coast of mainland Tanzania, the idyllic island of Zanzibar is slow-paced and worry-free (there’s a good chance you’ll hear “Hakuna Matata” bandied about a few times during your stay) — and it’s ready to steal your heart. While here, be sure to spend time on the island’s scenic beaches, which are graced by white sand, palm trees, and crystal-clear waters (most notably on the north and south coastlines). The island is also home to Zanzibar City — the capital known for its hub and historic epicenter of Stone Town. Here, you’ll find markets full of local spices, as well as the Old Fort of Zanzibar. And if you’re looking for an adventure even further off the beaten path, check out Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, home to the endangered red colobus monkey, or the smaller islands in the area’s archipelago. Whether you choose to spend your days snorkeling, swimming, or simply working on your tan, remember to leave your devices at the hostel.
Is there a better way to unplug from the world than renting a van and driving around New Zealand’s majestic countryside? To immerse yourself in this technology-free getaway, throw some pillows in the back, buy a foldable map and some snacks at a gas station, and hit the road.
New Zealand’s north and south islands are equally stunning, offering up otherworldly views of mountains, glaciers, beaches, and waterfalls. Visit filming locations for the famous Lord of The Rings trilogy, hike through the spectacular landscapes of Tongariro National Park, or hop on a boat and float through the picturesque Milford Sound. And out in the wild, they’ll be plenty of time to stargaze and forget about social media for a while.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy escape from your overflowing inbox, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the Bahamas — an archipelago in the Atlantic that exudes Caribbean paradise. Despite what you may have heard, these islands are much more than just resorts, and though their location is only 60 miles (100 kilometers) off the coast of Florida, they feel a world away. The country’s cities and townships are friendly and full of personality, and what surrounds them are stunning coastlines, bustling reefs, and mysterious ocean trenches. From the moment you land in the Bahamas, you’ll be met by a colorful culture that blends African and European influences. The islands are home to a number of national parks, pristine deep sea fishing conditions, and even a bustling nightlife culture — ensuring an unplugged and relaxing trip for everyone.
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
There’s something incredibly humbling about being in the presence of mountains — features of which Torres del Paine National Park has no shortage. A visit here is sure to remind you just how breathtaking — and big — the world is, a feeling that always helps us to recenter when we’re feeling overwhelmed. There’s no doubt that an exploration through Torres del Paine will shake up your routine, as the park is located in Chile’s remote Patagonia region — one of the world’s most wild territories, where you’ll find not only the aforementioned mountains, but also icebergs, bright-blue glacial lakes, grasslands, and a variety of wildlife. While hiking through these striking landscapes, you’ll be able to put your digital woes in perspective and enjoy some much-needed downtime. When it comes to lodging, you’ll have plenty of choices, but whether you settle on a tent or a hotel, the last thing you’ll want to do in southern Chile is check your Twitter feed.
Interested in learning more about how to make your next adventure more meaningful? Check out these five tips!