To travel today often means to travel with a smartphone. Like a trusted friend, your smartphone knows where to go, where to eat (especially where not to eat) and when the next sale on flights to Hawaii is coming up.
To travel with a smartphone means to travel with your camera, a tether to a digital realm and a gateway to near-unlimited knowledge (thanks, Internet!).
To travel with a smartphone is convenient and (arguably) necessary given today's era of hyper-connectivity and share-happy culture. But for every Like or Favourite your smartphone provides, there's a shortfall to come with it.
Remember said gateway to near-unlimited knowledge? Well it's also a pathway to this thing called an "inbox" and "text messages" and "phone calls" -- some of the things many travellers try to escape from in the first place.
It's not easy for Canadians to give up their phones. Roughly eight in 10 smartphone owners say they don't leave home without their mobile device, according to a 2012 Google survey. Nearly 35 per cent of the survey group say they've become so addicted they'd rather trade in their TV before parting with their device.
Who needs a TV when you've got a Netflix app, right?
Factor in the 65 per cent of Canadians who suffer from "nomophobia" -- that sense of panic people feel when they're away from their phone and internet access -- according to a Rogers Innovation Report and you've got the making of a group of people in need of an intervention.
Okay, perhaps intervention is too strong of a word. Maybe some people just need a digital detox. A retreat from technology if you will. Well, as the internet will tell you, there are plenty of beautiful places free of Wi-Fi. There are also a couple of options in Canada for those desperate for a departure from all things digital.
The Best Places For A Digital Detox In Canada
Flickr: Viola Ng
With locations in Toronto and Montreal
, this restaurant's claim to fame is the premise of dining in the dark. And we're not talking about dingy-dive-bar dark, we're talking a literal pitch-black atmosphere.
Once you step inside the dining room, your sense of sight is stripped away and you're forced to rely on the blind (yes, the servers here are legally blind) wait staff. From there on in, no light source -- be it phone, watch or otherwise -- is permitted making those Instagrams of dinner utterly futile.
Photo Credit: Viola Ng
So perhaps you can get through a meal without touching your smartphone. Congrats. Give yourself a pat on the back and remember to tip your server. It's time to move on to to phase two: a weekend retreat. Echo Valley Ranch
, located in B.C.'s Cariboo Region, offers just that.
For two days, guests are without TV, Wi-Fi and cell reception. Instead, the resort looks to fill the digital void with daily Thai yoga, horseback riding, outdoor hot tubs, indoor heated swimming pools and all the natural beauty British Columbia has to offer. Not good enough? They also serve cookies all day long -- the kind you won't find in your Internet browser.
If you can't take away the Wi-Fi and cell reception, then ditch the phone. At the Loden Hotel in Vancouver
, guests who book the digital detox package must check in their phone(s) with an electronic concierge who will safeguard your items while you go explore Vancouver's East End or check out the hotel's infrared sauna treatment.
Assuming you don't go nuts from post-partum cellphone depression, you'll even receive a solar-powered charger for your phone
once you leave.
Emerald Lake Lodge
If taking away your cellphone won't work, perhaps a distraction might do the trick. And what better way to distract you from your phone's screen than the majestic Canadian Rockies? At the Emerald Lake Lodge
, located just off the shores of B.C.’s Emerald Lake, if the serenity of mother nature doesn't get you off the phone, the lack of cell reception probably will.
But that probably won't matter what with the abundance of adventure awaiting in nearby Yoho National Park. Not a fan of the outdoors? Then get comfy inside the lodge and take a pseudo-trip back in time to the late 1800's inside the lounge, reading or games room.
Flickr: Mark Hill Photography
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Unplug And Relax At These Digital Detox Retreats