Time for a digital detox…

Last updated on January 11, 2024

Steve and the view at Izhcayluma on our digital detox

Travelling in the olden days, by which I mean 10 years ago, used to mean guaranteed internet-free periods. You’d have to seek out a fluorescent-lit hole filled with god-forsaken PCs struggling along on Windows 98. Nowadays, a laptop is almost as common as Imodium on every traveller’s packing list. A hostel without wi-fi is like a cafe without coffee, and travellers sit fixed to their Facebooks or downloaded episodes of Breaking Bad.

I’m not being disparaging. Steve and I are part of this crew. In fact, between us we have two laptops, an iPad, a Kindle (2 until Steve’s was nabbed on a bus) and two iPhones. Our jobs require computers, and wi-fi has enabled us to take our careers on the road – but that doesn’t mean we sometimes dream of a world without it.

It feels like an addiction – compulsively checking email and social media, and scanning reams of information day in and day out, even on our days off. We worked out that in the 200 days we’ve been travelling, only one of those was 100% internet free and that was when we were deep into Bolivia’ s desert. There was even internet on Isla del Sol.

View from Izhcayluma
The view from Izhcayluma’s restaurant is ridiculously stunning

So, when we decided to have a little holiday in October, we added an extra rule – it would be an internet-free time. We would enforce a five-day digital detox.

Steve had spent the last few weeks deep in work and I’d had a digital overload after two travel blogging conferences on the trot. It was definitely time to unplug and unwind – but how would we cope without our laptops?

Horseriding in VIlcabamba
Horseriding in Vilcabamba during the digital detox

We found the perfect location in Izhcayluma in Vilcabamba, a luxury spa hostel at budget prices. With gorgeous views across the valley, massages on site, a swimming pool and pool table, it was the perfect place to relax. Vilcabamba also happens to be a mecca for healthy-living (as well as radiation-fearers and conspiracy theorists, but more on that later).

The trials of a digital detox

But despite this, it was still harder than we thought to let go of our internet ties – especially checking our email. In fact, in-between horse-riding, spa treatments and games of chess, I confess I did break our fast once or twice. Force of habit prevailed, I woke up and opened my iPad. I didn’t do any work or hit reply, but I did check-in.

Steve on holiday in Izhcayluma
Kicking back at Izhcayluma

My lapse was disappointing. I really wanted to switch off 100% but with wi-fi available, I found it too hard to resist. I lacked the self-discipline or motivation to be completely strict – but starting next week, I’m going to have no choice. I’m doing a month-long yoga course in the Mexican jungle. I’ll have access to the internet once or twice a week but there’s no connection where I’m staying and the training schedule is intense. Instead of a self-enforced detox with wi-fi at hand, I’ll be truly internet-free.

You’ll still see me online from time to time. I have posts scheduled and, like I said, I’ll be checking in once or twice a week for maybe an hour at a time. It’ll be the least amount of internet-time I’ve had in maybe 10 years. How will that feel? I really don’t know. Vilcabamba was a beautiful taster, but this time is hardcore. Let the experiment begin… And I’ll be sure to let you know the results (that is unless I’m transformed and have sworn of the net forever!)

Useful info on Vilcabamba

Izhcayluma Hosteria is gorgeous and highly recommended. We’ve written a full review of Izhcayluma but highlights include the spa (a 60 minute massage is around $20), the incredible sweeping views and the food – we were completely blown away by the homemade tempeh and went back after our holiday for more. Thanks to Raik for inviting us to stay there 🙂

6 thoughts on “Time for a digital detox…”

  1. I totally feel for you!! My partner and I left in 2009 and traveled for 2.5 years… the first year we both had computers, kindles and the lot…. then we found ourselves behind the computers far more than we anticipated and decided to detach. We spent 6 months living on a far off island in Cambodia, we did a 10 day silent Vipassana, and we did the intensive yoga thing too! It was amazing, I learned sooo much from unplugging and being with myself! Now, home, Levi and i have started a business called The Digital Detox. We curate retreats in Northern California, getting people to unplug from their busy lives and devices for 4 days! We try to reach people in cities and communities to encourage them to take time off line… and plug into themselves! Whether that means coming to our retreat or a Device free Meet Up or just taking a weekend off, a day off, an hour each day to be solo! I’m soo excited for what you are about to embark on! Have a beautiful yogic experience. Lots of Blessings! peace sister!

    • That sounds like an awesome business. I really love your story of how it came about! Steve did a vipassana a few years ago and we both hope to do one together soon. I’m currently on my day off from the yoga and about to head back to the jungle. I’ll be sure to check out your site when I’m back. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  2. Detoxing is tough. Lee and I are travelling with just one laptop between us, and we take it in turns to do our work. I have to admit I get really antsy while I wait for him to finish so I can get back online! It’s crazy how entrenched in the online world our lives have become, but I love it all the same. Good luck on your yoga retreat, I can’t wait to hear all about it xxx

    • Wow, that is hard with just one laptop. I tried to get by with my iPad, but eventually had to get a laptop because blogging on the iPad/sharing Steve’s laptop was proving too frustrating. I only have a quick snatch of Internet now, but I’ll be sure to let you know how it all goes once I’m back. Even just one week offline has been pretty incredible. It’s amazing how we adjust…

  3. Ah, what a great idea, I feel like I totally need to do these because as of late I’ve become a total internet addict! Ever since I started my travel blog I feel like I’m glued to social media. Have a great time on your yoga retreat, I’m excited to hear about how it pans out 🙂

    • Thanks Ashley. I’m currently having my first dose of internet after 6 days straight in the jungle! The training is really intense on the body and mind, which is exacerbated by being offline, but it’s definitely worthwhile. Amd with that, I’m off back into the jungle! More soon…


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