Tuesday, 26 June 2007

The Value Of Unconnected Holidays

If you are a regular reader, you may have noticed that I haven't posted here for a couple of weeks. I've been taking an unconnected break in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. I spent my time visiting family in Wanaka and Queenstown. These alpine resort towns are in the Southern Lakes region of the South Island, and are surrounded by mountains. It's a beautiful place to be at any time of year, and especially when the mountains are capped with snow.
Although these places are by no means devoid of digital technology (far from it in fact), I decided to make it a fairly unconnected holiday this time. I didn't take a computer or an iPod, and I had my mobile device turned off most of the time. The only digital device I used constantly was a digital camera (I'll post some more photos of the trip on my flickr photostream when I get a chance).

I did get withdrawal symptoms for the first couple of days, not being hyper-connected through instant messenger, email and online social networks. I wasn't even able to be tempted by my favourite new media podcasts. After a couple of days I started to relax into the holiday and it became a very refreshing experience. It was actually a very social time, with a lot of family members and friends of family gathering for a surprise birthday event, but it was all face-to-face communication for a change.
The day we were due to fly out of Queenstown, it started snowing heavily. The airport closed just before our flight and the roads connecting the town to the outside world were also closed. It was then that I began to need my mobile phone and web connection again, to be able to reorganise travel plans, but even then I only visited an internet cafe once. It was a three day wait before the airport opened again.
Being snowed-in was an unexpected surprise, but ultimately it was a fun time and I'm glad I had a break from being hyper-connected. I came to the conclusion that it's important to do that from time to time, as it's a great way of recharging the batteries, avoiding digital and social network burnout, and it makes you appreciate it all the more when you come back online.
I'd highly recommend the experience, but now that I'm back, normal communications will resume. Have you taken a non-digital holiday recently - without the crackberry, computer, or whatever your digital addiction is? How did you find it?


Andrea Vascellari said...

Hi John!

Now I'm trying to plan a non-digital holiday, but I think that it will be difficult...Because of my projects there is always somebody or some urgent mail 'popping up'!
Maybe I should pick a destination where I really can't use any digital device like you did. So I will run out of excuses!


jj said...

I understand. The thing is, once you get over the initial withdrawal and just turn everything off, I found that there really aren't that many messages that can't wait for a few days until you get back :)

Andrea Vascellari said...

All right you convinced me John, I will follow your suggestions!