The other day, my three-year- old daughter looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Mama, you’re not listening to my words.”
She was right. She had caught me in the act: I was mindlessly scrolling through news feeds on my phone and not paying attention to her. I wasn’t listening to her words.
Board a subway car or walk down the street: People are tethered to devices as never before. American adults spend nearly five hours a day on smartphones, and an astounding 11 hours a day in front of some kind of screen, be it a personal computer, television, tablet, or phone.
At AFAR, we believe that travel offers the chance to step away from the never-ending noise and distractions of modern life, and actually connect with your fellow humans—and the real world—again. That’s why I’m especially excited about #TravelUnplugged, AFAR’s new digital detox campaign.
Read what happened when senior editor Aislyn Greene posed a phone-free challenge to herself, powering off her devices and using only paper maps to navigate the Swedish countryside. Deputy editor Jenn Flowers tells how she perfected the art of doing nothing (except feeling the sand between her toes). And AFAR cofounder Joe Diaz shares his experience at a 10-day silent meditation retreat.
Our hope is that the stories you read in our March/April 2018 issue and on the Unplugged channel of AFAR.com will inspire you to take our #TravelUnplugged pledge: Commit to taking a trip between February 14 and September 3 and promise not to use your phone or your computer. The trip can be any duration, to any type of destination, but the idea is to truly disconnect from technology. Get a little lost on a trail, ride the rails, or simply head out for a day in your own hometown without a plan—or a phone.
I know I’m bound to my devices to an unhealthy degree and that stepping away from the barrage of social media will help me be a more present human being. So this spring, I’ll be spending a couple of days offline at The Sea Ranch, a coastal community 100 miles north of San Francisco.
I hope you’ll take the pledge, go somewhere, and do something a little—or a lot—outside your comfort zone. Engage with the world at large, and then, when you reenter the digital realm, tell us about your experience via the hashtag #TravelUnplugged.