I’ve recently returned from what – for me – was a big deal: a five-day trek through the Peruvian Andes. The trek itself wasn’t the corker, as I’ve enjoyed multi-day treks around the world – in Ukraine, Australia, the Rocky Mountains of Canada, and more.
No. The big deal, for me, was that I was without my computer and totally offline for five days.
Five. Whole. Days.
You might balk at why this was a big deal. I mean, really – five days without the umbilical connection to technology shouldn’t be earth-shattering.
Then again, maybe you’re thinking about the last time you were totally and completely disconnected from all things electronic for five days. Can you even remember when that was?
I’ve written on other sites about the chemical addiction to technology that we have, yet been too scared to heed my own advice enough to take a proper digital detox. As much as I poo-poo the digital landslide we’re experiencing as a society (brought to light by my recently being dumped via instant message), I’m as much a victim of technology as anybody else.
Even after my big accident last year, I squinted at my computer screen/smartphone despite my concussions to Skype my family, communicate with and garner support from friends, and try to keep up with the never-ending onslaught of work.
Speaking of work…
I get about 50 emails per day. That meant I knew there would be well over 200 emails awaiting me after my little trek in the Andes. Plus mounting social media activity. And writing assignments. Blogging. Instant messaging. Whatever.
This stressed me out. I also knew that I’d be offline a fair bit in April while participating in various workshops at Paz y Luz where I’m staying, and am ever-budgeting my time to ensure I don’t fall ridiculously behind with work.
Work vs Life
But life isn’t about work.
If I spend all my time behind a computer screen, I’m not traveling and living life on the road, which means the whole point of what I’m doing as The Professional Hobo is moot. Enter from stage left: work-life balance, and how it integrates with full-time travel.
Digital Detox Results
So how did the detox work out, you might wonder?
I relaxed into the process in the first couple of days very nicely, and although I got a little antsy near the end, I maintained the discipline to stay offline despite having WiFi access on the fourth day and a smartphone (which I brought along solely for it’s awesomeness as a camera).
When I returned to my work, I had more perspective, and catching up wasn’t as horrific as I had anticipated it would be. I – like many people – tend to waste a lot of time online when I don’t have to be task-oriented. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you have to get down to it. In fact, on my return, the internet was out for (another) whole day, and it was probably one of the most productive days I’ve had in a while.
Would I do a Digital Detox again?
Sure. Would it be any easier? Probably not. But is it a good thing? Definitely.
Stay tuned for some posts (and lots of epic photos) about my trek through the Andes, which ended up in Machu Picchu. I’m currently a little lost for words with regards to the experience…but with a little more time (offline?), I’m sure the words will come.
Managing your finances at home is one thing; but how do you do it from the road if you’re travelling long-term? There’s a lot to oversee, from receiving and paying bills, to getting cash, filing taxes, and more. This month’s reader question is a biggie.
Jonny Blair of Don’t Stop Living interviews me about my best and worst/scariest and funniest travel experiences, random jobs I’ve had, and my best tips for new travellers in my last seven years of living on the road.