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Unplugged: 14 Best Places To Get Off The Grid
Where are you headed next? Maybe you need a digital detox vacation. Now that disconnecting from it all has become more essential than ever, the concept of taking a digital detox trip is on the rise. In the past year alone, web searches for “digital detox” have increased by 42%, while a survey found that one in five consumers is taking a digital detox.
And it’s no wonder travelers are craving an off-the-grid escape, given that we live in an increasingly high-wired, hyper-connected world. A whopping 96% of Americans own a cell phone, and the average user touches their phone 2,617 times a day. People are looking for ways to separate from their electronics, especially on vacation.
“A holiday is fast becoming synonymous with a break from our phones,” says Amelia Stewart, the brand ambassador for Original Travel, a high-end travel outfitter. “How joyful to be in a place that is ‘off the radar’ enough not to be able to be contacted 24/7?”
Stewart—who recently returned from a trip to a remote spot in Kyrgyzstan—says that while being in a place like Kyrgyzstan might force you to stay off your devices, “you don’t need to journey to the ends of the earth if you can just practice a little willpower.”
Johnny Welsh is the author of Paper Maps, No Apps: An Unplugged Travel Adventure, a book that chronicles a 16-day road trip in the western U.S. that he and his girlfriend, Kristy, took while detaching from smartphones and social media. “With this addiction to our smartphones, this obsession to be connected with the world, we fail to connect with the people sitting right in front of us,” he says.
Welsh points out that a vacation is the perfect time to disconnect—and that it may change your perspective and your life if you do. “A reawakening starts with forced human interaction,” he says. “We did that for thousands of years before.”
And here’s the other good news: If you’re seeking a digital detox vacation, there are now more options than ever. Check out the following suggestions, which will help you go dark on your next journey.
Lake Placid Lodge – New York
Deep in the heart of New York’s Adirondack Mountains, guests can take advantage of Lake Placid Lodge’s clever “Check In to Check Out” package. The five-star hotel is offering guests the opportunity to leave their phones with the front desk to get a fourth night free, made-to-order breakfast, turndown service, chef-prepared snack and wine, in addition to all the amenities and activities at the resort. A true four-season destination, visitors will enjoy mountain biking, canoeing, and hiking in the warm weather or snowshoeing, skiing and dog-sledding during the winter. There’s so much outdoor recreation in the Adirondacks that guests will hardly notice their phone’s absence.
Kachi Lodge – Bolivia
Disconnect from worldly worries and relax in minimalist luxury surrounded by the Uyuni Salt Flats of Bolivia at the Kachi Lodge, which is the ultimate in glamping. The domed, modern architecture gives the resort the ambiance of a space station in the middle of the arid flats. Detox from the digital world with traditional Bolivian cuisine by day and enjoy unobstructed views of the starry skies by night.
Getaway, a mindful travel company, aims to build balance into modern life by providing tiny minimalist cabins outside of metropolitan areas for weary city-dwellers to escape the daily grind. A no-fuss approach to leisure gives travelers a cabin and a chance to lock away their phone, connect with loved ones and enjoy quiet time in nature. You’ll even receive customized guidebooks for local hikes and activities, board games and books for some phone-free fun. You’ll find locations in places like New York City, Boston, Washington DC, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
Feeling adventurous? Spend a week in the wilderness with Niquesa Travel’s “Journey into the Unknown.” That’s right, you’ll follow instructions and chart a course that leads to an undisclosed location. Don’t worry, though: You’ll be in good hands with expedition leader, Dr. Raj Joshi, who will help you at various points along the way. This is an adventure to an unknown destination, but also into the unknown landscape of your own mind. As you go, you’ll learn to discover the core of who you are, apart from your job, your relationships or your achievements. You’ll develop leadership skills and challenge your belief system. At the end of your week of self-discovery, you’ll have time to reflect on the experience before jolting back to the real world.
Log Cabin Wilderness Lodge – Alaska
Alaska’s Log Cabin Wilderness Lodge is one of the most remote campgrounds in the United States. With the nearest town a half-hour-drive away, it’s both off-the-grid and far removed from the nearest cellular tower—making it easy to disconnect for a few days. When your eyes aren’t glued to a screen, you might spot the midnight sun, the Northern Lights and wildlife like moose and eagles roaming the lodge’s 11 acres of Alaskan wilderness. Fun fact: John Wayne stayed here in the park’s early days. A stay at Log Cabin Wilderness Lodge is available on Pitchup.com, an outdoor accommodation booking website.
London-based Original Travel, which creates tailor-made travel itineraries around the world, has seen an uptick in the number of U.S. travelers looking to take multi-destination sabbatical trips, between three and 12-months in length, providing the ultimate digital detox. The company’s latest sabbatical offering is the Luxury Wellness Sabbatical in Asia. The three-month tour takes travelers from the Indian Himalayas to the crystal waters of the Maldives to the forests of Japan, focusing on relaxation and rejuvenation. Travelers will experience the healing benefits of yoga, meditation and Tai Chi and indulge in a range of relaxing treatments—worlds away from the stresses of daily life.
Cabn – Adelaide Hills, Australia
Booking site Cabn was set up to help provide people with a means to disconnect from the daily rush of meetings, calls and to-do lists. Its off-grid, sustainable and eco-friendly tiny houses are set in some of Australia’s most stunning landscapes, offering a picturesque escape. Recharge at places like Cabn’s Adelaide Hills location in South Australia. You’ll feel refreshed after a stay at the peaceful country retreat where your only neighbors are kangaroos, bears and bandicoots.
Mandarin Oriental – Miami
Mandarin Oriental, Miami, located on the exclusive Brickell Key, makes it easy for guests to disconnect during their stay. The “Power Off in Paradise” package encourages guests to put down their devices and be present. Guests are welcomed with a wellness basket filled with mindful, non-digital activities, such as a puzzle or a board game. Activities include private yoga, a singing bowl session on the beach and freshly prepared, healthy bento box lunches. The 120-minute Digital Wellness Escape treatment at the resort’s five-star spa aims to ease stresses and strains from the frequent use of digital devices.
Vacation With An Artist
An adventure doesn’t have to be drastic to be transformative. But creatives ready to do something with their hands can book curated mini apprenticeships with artists across the world through VAWAA (Vacation with an Artist). From calligraphy with a grandmaster in Kyoto to making a bicycle with India’s first bamboo bicycle-maker, VAWAA offers trips to 23 different countries with 66 artists for a craft-and-culture-focused experience. It’s a personalized trip that will reset your energy.
Wild Dunes Resort – Charleston, South Carolina
Sure, you can take in Charleston’s rich history, acclaimed culinary scene and stunning architecture. But just 30 minutes from downtown, you can treat yourself to something truly indulgent: self-care. With the new Digital Detox Retreat at Wild Dunes Resort, visitors are encouraged to lock away their phones and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere of the Charleston Lowcountry. This three-night retreat includes experiences to nourish the body and mind, such as outdoor activities paired with spa treatments.
Resort at Squaw Creek – California
Drive four hours away from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco and find yourself at the Resort Squaw Creek. The luxury resort invites guests to reset and adopt a fresh headspace to take home through a host of digital detox spa offerings and outdoor activities. Head outside for guided recreational activities and day-long excursions—from bike tours and horseback rides to rafting trips down Truckee River—or venture out solo to soak up the natural surroundings at your own pace. Return to the lodge and continue the serenity with a massage treatment, facial or body treatment that will help you unwind from it all.
Camp Navarro – Anderson Valley, California
Northern California’s Camp Navarro is known for its “Digital Detox” and “Camp Grounded” programs, which redefine corporate and family retreats. Tucked away in the Anderson Valley, the 120-acre camp features a Great Hall, 32 rustic cabins and 42 teepee tents, all under the shade of soaring redwoods along the North Fork of the Navarro River. Camp activities include all the classics, such as archery, rock climbing, lawn games and miles of hiking trails—making it an ideal spot to get outside for team-building with colleagues or memory-making with family.
Springwater Center – Finger Lakes, New York
Tucked away in New York’s Finger Lakes region, Springwater Center offers monthly silent retreats where guests disconnect through timed sittings, private meetings with experienced teachers, daily work periods and participation in outdoor activities around the center’s 200 acres of open land complete with fields, forests, a pond and walking trails. The essence of any retreat at Springwater is being together in the open space of silent awareness. There are four Quiet Week periods scheduled throughout the year where specific areas in the house are kept in total silence.
For those hoping to rediscover the value of authentic relationships, A-Gap is a non-profit foundation that provides retreats that guide people away from digital distractions. A-Gap programs are designed specifically for those looking to reconnect with nature, self and others. The experiences are held in communal settings, surrounded by inspiring scenery, with basic lodging, healthy menus and guest speakers. In the end, A-Gap weekends are designed to help give you the skills for successfully limiting technology’s impact on your personal life and a template for how to achieve this balance once you return home. Upcoming experiences include St Augustine, November (for couples) and Lake Wales, Florida (for young adults).