As writers in TripZilla, we’ve written about almost every travel hack and tip under the sun. But despite our real-life experiences and tried and tested advice, there’s an elephant in the room we haven’t dared to discuss.
A Social Media Detox in this day and age is almost dreaded by everyone — especially travellers. As ambitious and aimless wanderers, we need the security of social media to at least keep in touch with family and friends while we’re on the road. This is very true for Filipinos who can’t seem to escape from their parents’ incessant need for updates whenever they’re out of town. Plus, who would be willing to spend another peso for calls and texts when you can just connect to your hotel’s WiFi to get in touch with whoever you left at home?
Also read: Is Technology Destroying Travelling?
Its perks and benefits aside, social media has its downfalls too. Although most of us are willing to accept these detrimental aspects in exchange for all its favours, once upon a time we had surely gotten sick of social media. And there’s definitely been a day when we just closed all the tabs on our laptops and mobiles to get away from it all. We may not have experienced a social media detox on our travels, but we’ve surely experienced the kind of relief and mental breather that time away from social media can give us — no frustrations, insecurities, distractions, or all sorts of overwhelming feelings these platforms evoke. Only physical interactions and time alone with our own thoughts.
I honestly think that many of us can’t afford petty inconveniences that social media triggers while we’re on a vacation…a vacation that wasn’t easy to literally afford in the first place. If you’re still not convinced, here’s why travellers should try a social media detox at least once.
Also read: Why Everyone Needs An Unplugged Vacation
1. Time for yourself
This goes without saying. When you drop social media, it’s easier to clear your head and just have time for yourself. Think about things you don’t usually get to think about when you’re on the Internet interacting and absorbing everything that social media spits out. The best part of this is that you don’t get to search other travel posts on Instagram and Facebook that might make you feel competitive. There’s just you, your itinerary, and adventure. Nevermind the travels of others. You’re out having your own.
2. More free time in general
When my best friend and I were on a vacation in Taiwan, we spent most of the day outside enjoying ourselves. But at night, we stayed up late just editing Instagram photos when we could have used the time to get more sleep. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do this. To each his own, after all. Just take it as an example of how time-consuming or distracting social media can get when you should perhaps be prioritising other things. When you’re travelling, time management is important, and you should be able to decide what you’re willing to sacrifice in order to maximise your whole trip. You paid for that!
3. You focus on the real world
When you put your phone down and take a moment to observe, everything changes. You start to pay better attention to your surroundings. Did you notice the spaciously designed landscape of Japan’s parks? Is that Korean beef cooked the same way as the one in your country? Just how interesting is the Mona Lisa in person? Have you seen more impressive paintings?
Or were you too busy taking photos and checking Twitter every waking hour? Unplug. Witness the beauty of differences and cultural diversity. Spark thought-provoking discussions with your travel buddy. What’s right in front of you can make the travel more meaningful than what’s on your screen, I’m sure.
4. You save money
Budget-travellers, are you reading this? You know how it feels to pay for mobile data on top of everything else you have to spend on. Using mobile data is still reasonable when you need to access Google Maps and other travel-related information. But just how much of your data do you spend on Facebook and Instagram? 60 to 90%? If you do away with these, then you’ll really only need the Internet for navigation and tips. In which case, you can do your research in advance in your hotel where WiFi is already part of the expense.
Oh wait, some accommodations actually charge extra for WiFi, believe it or not. Well then, good luck with real human interaction!
5. You can rest your eyes
Resting your eyes is so simple but also hard to do when you’re travelling. When we stay up late on social media and looking at our screens, the harder it is for us to sleep. This is due to the stimulating effect of activities from the device and the light coming from the screen. It’s a hassle for all travellers since we usually go on social media before sleeping to update our loved ones back home. If not, then we’re staying up late to catch up on posts and interactions.
If we manage to detoxify ourselves of this, then resting our eyes and falling asleep will be no sweat. We all need that beauty sleep for the next day’s adventure too! If you really need to update the family of your trip, keep the social media use to a minimum (or just tell them prior to your trip that you’re trying a social media detox).
6. You keep things private and intimate (in the meantime)
Nobody’s requiring you to post about your travels in real time. If anything, it can do more harm than good especially when you tag your location in your posts. Who knows who’s reading or watching your every move in another destination? Your accounts may be private but people can find ways to track you down if you’re not careful. But enough of this morbid thinking.
Simply put, you can postpone your travel posts on social media until the time when it’s completely safe for you to do so. The best part of it is that you don’t get distracted and you give your travel buddies undivided attention and vice versa. However, if you’re going to ask us when the best time to post your travels is, we’ll leave that to your better judgement.
I’m sure you still have your reservations about a social media detox while travelling. We all do. It’s not just a must-try for travellers. For many of us, it’s a fear. A reasonable one nonetheless. But if you’re brave and open enough to try it, why not?