It seems odd to start a blog extolling the virtues of a digital detox whilst sat on my laptop, obviously not taking my own advice. However, having spent half an hour last night moving from one wild camping park up to another, in search of 4G signal, now seems an appropriate time to consider this option.
We often tout around “digital detox” as a convenient buzz word when we’ve lost one too many games of Candy Crush, or we just really need a spa day. But, what forms can a digital detox take, and what benefits can really embracing one bring?
Addicted to Technology
Did you know that the average person checks their phone every 12 minutes (source – Ofcom). That’s 5 times an hour, 120 times a day, and I don’t even want to do the maths about how many times a year! And to a certain extent, it’s understandable, this impulsive need for technological connection that we feel. Scientists have proven that apps fire off happy little endorphins in our brains, which is a good feeling. But, it’s so easy for these good feelings to turn into something a little more detrimental to our health.
Staying connected whilst on the road can be a challenge. It’s one that, whilst travelling, I have become quite adept at meeting. I have discovered that McDonalds does not provide good enough network speeds for downloading the latest series of Orange is the New Black and that if you don’t turn off Spotify offline, you will use 7GB data unnecessarily. I need the internet for my work on the road. But you know what else I need? Space, time to breathe, time to take in what I’m actually seeing around me, and not wondering what will make the optimum Instagram shot.
Being in a campervan is set up to be this marvellous chance to set aside social media, emails, television, and soak up the awesome surroundings you find yourself in. How do I know this? I saw it on Instagram…. But seriously, being in control of your own rolling home and having the opportunity to have a digital detox might be just what you need to get back a sense of inner peace and tranquillity.
So, here are my top tips for clearing your mind of technology, whilst enjoying the very best road trip you possibly can.
Sleeping in a camper van is awesome. You can look at the stars through your skylight, have the back doors open and watch the sunset over a beach, or snuggle up toasty and warm whilst the wind and snow does its thing outside. It’s homely and cosy, and totally spoilt if you give yourself a headache or keep yourself awake with a late-night blue screen. This is because blue light affects the level of melatonin, our sleep hormone
Put down your phone an hour before you are planning to go to sleep. Don’t be tempted to look at it. Turn it on silent, and put it somewhere it would be annoying to get out of bed and retrieve. This way, your brain relaxes quicker and you should find that you get to sleep easier, and have a far more restful and deep sleep.
Turn Down the Colour
Chances are, you’ve parked yourself up in a beautiful spot. Maybe you’re taking in a view of rich green hills and mountains in Wales, or maybe you’re seeing the sky reflected in a thermal pool in Spain. Are the beaches of the Scottish Islands turning your vision yellow? Well, a good way to focus on the outside view, rather than your phone, is to turn your screen to greyscale. It might sound like an odd tip, but one of the reasons that phone apps are so addictive is their bright colours. Turning them to black and white won’t cure the addiction, but it does aid the whole digital detox thing.
Often, we are searching online for ideas and inspirations of where to travel to next. The internet is a great resource for this and the vanlife community is well known for its willingness to share its favourites parkups and adventure spots. However, rather than make a note of them in your phone and then run the risk of getting distracted by an awesome video of a cat being best friends with a goat three hours later, you could try writing down these travel ideas in an actual physical notebook. I tried this, and I’ve actually continued writing little anecdotes about my travels which will be great fun to read back in the future.
Take the Road Less Travelled
Google Maps can be a great life saver in situations where you need quick directions to a designated place. But, sometimes it’s a little too good. One of the major benefits to being in a camper van is that you are in total control of your destination. We have really tried to resist the temptation to let satellites dictate our movements! A great idea is to use a road map or, even more fun, pick a road that looks interesting and say “let’s go!” You’ll be amazed at the stunning places you can end up, without even realising they existed. After all, this is one of the best things about a camper van holiday, right?
It can definitely be hard to totally put down your phone. And, I’m not saying that you need to be as off-grid as your rolling home for the entire time you are away. However, if you can make time to step away from the computer for a good few hours a day, we really think your camper van escape will be all the more epic for embracing a bit of a digital detox!