Are you and your family in dire need of a digital detox package? Maybe the better question is, could you survive a digital detox? If given the opportunity to have all tech taken away to spend quality time together, how do you think you’d fare? Here’s the scoop on what you can expect from a digital detox – and how this TravelingMom was surprised by the outcome.
At this point in my life, my cell phone is pretty much attached to my hand at all times. Look, it’s something I’m not exactly proud of, but spending a lot of time on social media is a requirement for modern-day travel writers. There have been times when I’ve realized that I’m on my phone too much by getting “the look” from my teen daughter. It’s then I’ll drop it like it’s hot and remember to live in the moment, not via a photograph or video.
Having written that, I’ve never gone an entire day without the use of tech devices since… geez, I can’t even remember. It’s been that long. And, believe it or not, it was an email on my cell phone that prompted me to look into exactly what a digital detox is and why I had to say yes to the challenge.
Disclosure: this post in no way is making light of an actual drug or alcohol detox. But it was an eye-opening experience for me. I can only hope that you, the reader, will read with a comical tone.
What’s a Digital Detox?
Basically, you head to a hotel or resort and willingly surrender all of your tech devices, including your phones, laptops, and tablets. In my case, Mr. Locke and I headed to The Renaissance Hotel Pittsburgh to check out its digital detox package. While I’m sure each hotel has its own set of guidelines, in our case even the television in our room was removed. Talk about going cold turkey.
What’s Included in a Digital Detox?
While technology may be lacking, the opportunity to reconnect certainly isn’t. Our guest room was filled with board games, a radio/cd/record player, and the coolest touch: an old-school Polaroid camera. I used it to capture the experience in black and white. We also had a gorgeous guest room with a view of the rivers. Yep, I wrote rivers. If you’re not familiar with Pittsburgh, the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers meet to form the Ohio River. Our view was of the Allegheny and Ohio and PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. What else we were allowed: our own camera and a Go Pro – no way to surf the web on either.
If that sounds a bit too primitive, we also had a reason to get out and explore the city with vouchers for a bike or kayak rental. We chose the two-wheeled option. The last time I rode a bike was to check out downhill mountain biking at Snowshoe Mountain Resort and that didn’t end up as well as I would have liked. Hairpin turns, anyone?
Digital Detox Step One: Surrender Your Devices
When I booked the DD package, I didn’t even weigh the options. But, as time got closer, I honestly started getting a little nervous. Strike that, a lot nervous. I wasn’t nervous with the fact that I couldn’t check to see what my friends were doing on Facebook. THAT I could live without for a day. My thought immediately turned to my teen daughter who would be staying with relatives. What if she, or my aging father, needed to get in touch with me? That problem was solved by asking the front deck at check-in for my phone and room number – easy peasy. I texted the phone and room numbers to both and handed in my tech.
All of our devices were stored in a a double-keyed safety box, so no worries there. I had a key and had to sign in and sign out all of our property. I knew where things were at all times and felt secure.
Digital Detox Step Two: Stop Reaching For Your Phone
That was one of the hardest things to get over. Here’s me on a daily basis:
“Mom, what time is it?” *Checks phone*
“Honey, when is (insert name of band or singer) coming to town?” *Checks phone*
To self: “I wonder what time (insert store) opens?” *Checks phone*
Basically every question in my world: *checks phone*
Yeah, I soon realized that I didn’t have instant access to answers for every single question in my head. Or my husband’s. Or our daughter’s.
Digital Detox Step Three: Get Out and Enjoy.
After dinner, we took advantage of the free bike rentals and rode along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. Ideal for walking, running, biking – you name it – it’s 24 miles of paved trail that follows both sides of Pittsburgh’s rivers. We took photos with our Polaroid camera and watched the sun set. But the best part? I had no idea of the time! I mean, I could guesstimate based on the sun and time of year, but it was so refreshing to not be attached to a clock.
We biked back across the Roberto Clemente Bridge, hit the shower (it was in the low 90’s!), got in our pjs, and got ready for some heavy competition. Operation Board Game.
Digital Detox Step Four: Game Your Cares Away
By the time we were ready to bring out the board games, the Pirates were warming up (we could hear them from our windows). Mr. Locke found a radio station commentating the game, so we opened the windows and watched the game. THAT was a definite highlight!
The games at The Renaissance Pittsburgh were classics: Scrabble, Battleship, Yatzee, plus a couple of others. Having only ever played (and beaten) Mr. Locke at Battleship once, it was our game of choice. Okay, the score is now tied (not my best game strategy) so a rematch is definitely in order.
Digital Detox Step Five: Sleep. Sweet Sleep.
When I wasn’t not checking my phone every six seconds, it was much easier to fall asleep. It definitely didn’t hurt that our king bed was super comfortable and the pillows highly accommodating. Honestly, I think we fell asleep with the radio on but it was a happy blur.
Digital Detox Step Six: Refuel
The next morning, we headed to Braddock’s American Brasserie (the in-house restaurant) for breakfast. The DD package comes with a free continental breakfast for two and it was truly lovely. I’m not a giant eater in the morning, so the offering of fresh fruit, yogurt, and lighter fare was ideal. Of course, there are heartier menu options, but you’ll have to pay out of pocket for them.
Digital Detox Step Seven: You Survived! Congratulations!
At checkout, we received our phones and Macbooks back. Truthfully, I did immediately look to see if someone had called and for missed emails, but I wasn’t jonesing for all of my devices.
What I learned: I realized that I, and my family, need to take breaks from our tech more than I thought. I’m even considering doing an in-home version once a week or so.