If you’re old enough to remember holidays before mobile tech, you’ll be blessed with memories of playing ‘spot the red cars’ and ‘count the lampposts’ whilst travelling, feeling your favourite book between your fingers, planning your sight-seeing on a fold out paper map and playing board games, table tennis, cricket with friends and family.
If you were really fortunate, you may have got chatting to people on the bus, plane, beach or popped into a quirky restaurant you saw during the day to make a booking for that evening.
Today, things are different. The ability for us to stay connected and therefore contactable wherever we are in the world means holidays for many are now multi purpose. Business owners, couples and families are able to take a break away, yet with the comforts of their own home such as WiFi, TV and fully equipped kitchens for self-catering hearty family meals.
Accommodation providers in West Wales welcome families to stay from a 2-3 night short break through to one or two weeks. Some campsites host guests for up to 6 weeks during the Summer holidays, all possible whilst remaining connected.
On the plus side, being able to relocate your family to a coastal destination (whilst the parents manage workload from their phone or laptop) provides a more relaxed, natural, fun environment than at home. On the negative (and perhaps the more realistic of the two), constantly being tied to your regular life means it’s impossible to switch off, stress levels remain moderate to high and parents don’t spend as much quality time with their children as they’d hoped.
As a society, the majority of us looking for holiday accommodation still hold the ‘must have WiFi’ mentality according to a survey of the top 10 most important traveller requirements.
However, interestingly there is a slight shift starting to happen as Thom James from Pembrokeshire’s FBM Holidays explains,
“Over recent years, having access to WiFi whilst on holiday in Pembrokeshire has been amongst the top requirements for FBM guests, along with TV, a well equipped kitchen, being dog/child friendly and integral parking.
Connectivity is something the modern world demands. We are however, seeing small ripples of movement towards guests wanting to disconnect from their regular lives, so they can fully enjoy the property, the local people and their surroundings.”
Increasing demand for ‘digital detox’
This movement is now better known as ‘digital detox’, which is fast becoming a need more than a want as the digital world continues to negatively impact our physical and mental health.
Screen time is literally sucking the life out of us meaning; we move less, disconnect from human interaction, experience higher anxiety levels and have forgotten how to think creatively and play.
Even idol Ed Sheeran stepped off the social media wagon in 2016 and still doesn’t own a SMART phone. His explanation,
“I’ve had such an amazing ride over the last five years but I find myself seeing the world through a screen and not my eyes so I’m taking this opportunity of me not having to be anywhere or do anything to travel the world and see everything I missed.”
Mindful retreat at Teifi Marsh Nature Reserve
With this in mind, it’s refreshing to see the Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales promoting their beautiful Oak Tree Cottage (also known as The Cwtch) as a place to retreat and unwind from the modern world. It is a nature lover’s dream, set in the heart of Teifi Marsh Nature Reserve with no WiFi or TV signal. Just peace, tranquility and the sounds of nature.
Due to its unique setting and being next to the Welsh Wildlife Centre with adventure park, a willow maze, nature trails and resident water buffalo, guests have no need to leave the vicinity. The Wildlife Trust takes pride in highlighting the unique selling point of the cottage as ‘no distractions’
“Watch otters at dawn, badgers and deer at dusk, kingfishers on the river and a wealth of flora and fauna during the daytime. Lulled to sleep by nature on the edge of a wood, in the heart of the nature reserve, you will have it all to yourself once the visitors have gone home. Away from it all and with no TV signal or WIFI in the cottage to remind you of the stresses of the outside world this really is a break from it all!”
How encouraging to know that visitors to West Wales are now proactively seeking mindful stays.
Next time you book a trip
Think carefully about what kind of experience you’d like to enjoy and if it’s a mindful one, ask your booking agent to share properties with less focus on tech.
Ways to detox digitally whilst on holiday
If you’re not ready to fully disconnect whilst taking a break in Wales or simply are unable to due to certain commitments, try some of these tips to reduce the pressure:
- Turn off phone notifications for each of your apps so you still have access to the information but you check them when YOU decide to.
- Invest in a paper map and enjoy finding your way ‘old skool’ style
- Consider buying a non-smart phone just for holidays so you are contactable for emergencies only
- Download the Forest app (bear with me) – a quirky programme that monitors how often you touch your phone. The more you focus away from your phone, the more trees you will grow. If you can’t resist, the trees die. This app is lovingly connected to a real tree-growing initiative via participating sponsors.
This story is part of the Life Seeker newspaper