Wanna get off-the-grid on your next getaway? From Badlands adventure, to wilderness glamping, to stargazing parties in a bona fide “Quiet Zone,” we’ve handpicked a bevy of offline escapes, guaranteed to send you home de-stressed, recharged, and ready to plan your next unplugged adventure.
When it comes to escaping the digital world, camping is a no brainer – who doesn’t love a good nature fix? But for those who loathe outdoorsy discomfort and hassle (buzzy insects, fire starting, tent erecting), there is of course, glamping. This on-the-rise, glamorised version of camping adds a major dose of luxe, so the not-so-rustic at heart can unplug in comfort and style. Think state-of-the-art tents, king beds with plush linens, animal hide rugs, chic leather furniture, gourmet meals under the stars, and five-star touches like Epsom salt foot baths at the end of a long day’s hiking. Under Canvas is one of a growing band of adventure companies inviting guests to unplug, and connect with nature and each other – in style. They’ll take you to stunning national park spots like Yellowstone, Zion, and the Grand Canyon, where glampers get the full VIP treatment surrounded by world class nature views, and not a Wi-Fi network in sight.
Photo credit: Under Canvas
Even in hyper-connected America, there’s a place where wireless Internet, Bluetooth, and cellular activity is “outlawed.” Some 13,000-square-miles of radio silence spans West Virginia, where astronomers are quietly listening to the sounds of the universe. The Federal Communications Commission created this National Radio Quiet Zone in the late 1950s, as the region is home to a giant radio telescope that’s trying to pick up faint faraway signals from space. Any electrical activity could interfere with whispers from millions of miles away, so they need to be traced from an incredibly quiet area. A federal quiet zone law works in tandem with a state law – the West Virginia Radio Astronomy Zoning Act – to keep the area very, very radio quiet. So if you want to really disconnect, this stargazer’s sanctuary is your spot. Aside from stunning nature hikes on offer, stellar starry views attract a number of annual star parties like the Green Bank Star Quest in late July. The 4-day family-friendly event offers camping, meals, clinics from astronomy professionals, and twinkling views from inside the observatory. There’s also the Space Race Rumpus – a bike festival with camping, night sky tours, guided mountain bike rides through the area.
Photo credit: npr.org
With its striking rock formations, parched landscape, soft rainbow hues, and ever-changing sky theater, the otherworldly lure of Badlands National Park may be more your offline calling. Named makosica (badland) by Native Americans, there’s nothing quite like getting lost amid the rugged beauty and sheer badass vastness of this place. There are plenty of trails and hikes to explore, but pick your time to avoid crowds for a more nomadic sense of escape. Ditch the phone (there’s barely any cell service throughout the park), but don’t forget the camera as you’ll be surrounded by nature at its most magic and photo worthy. Prefer to cover more ground? Bicycle Adventures offers a six-day family cycling trip through South Dakota’s Badlands, Crazy Horse, and Black Hills. Watch grazing buffalo, soak in hot springs, go rock climbing, and marvel at Mount Rushmore in between pedalling your way through breathtaking scenery.
Photo credit: National Geographic
Need some real help unplugging from your devices? Plenty of up-and-coming companies in this very niche are ready to assist. Unplugged Weekend and Time to Log Off will send you to off-the-grid spots like Kerala, Cornwall, Hawaii, and Italy for a weekend of tech-free activity, like yoga, meditation, and nature walks. The catch? All digital devices must be surrendered on check-in. Others, like Digital Detox, are a little more earnest about the “detox” concept. They offer summer camps and personal growth retreats that combine yoga, mindful meditation, art and writing workshops, and discussions on best “digital living” practices for those keen to kick their digital habit. Detox amongst nature in places like North Carolina, Northern California, New York, and Texas, but expect a long list of “rules” thrown in. Strictly no work talk, clocks, networking, and of course, no screens, are intended to force campers to disconnect with tech, and reconnect with what’s important.
Image credit: Unplugged Weekend
If adult camps (even the luxe kind) and lengthy trips into the remote wilderness aren’t your thing, urban hotels are dishing up Digital Wellness packages and escapes that can last from as little as 80 minutes, or as long as a whole weekend. Some big name hotels are getting in on the unplugged action, so these days you can find in-house time out while on vacay, staycay, or just for a quick walk-in, walk-out spa session. The Mandarin Oriental has been rolling out its Digital Wellness Escape across its global properties. From New York, to Hong Kong, to Prague, to Tokyo, hotel guests can ditch the phone at the door, then bliss out with a 90-minute spa detox treatment and non-digital activities like Jenga, mindful coloring, and Rubik’s cubes. The Westin Paris – Vendome offers a Digital Detox package that invites guests to deposit all digital devices into a front office safe. After this, you’ll be rewarded with plenty of surprises which include a spa treatment, a guide to local parks, gardens and open-air activities, a delicacies filled “Sweet Kit” created by the in-house pastry chef, and magazines to rediscover the wonder of print. Australia’s luxurious Lizard Island Resort prides itself on offering no TVs, no cell phone reception, and Internet access that’s limited to the guest lounge. Some properties have even resorted to built-in features designed to make guests unplug. At Villa Stéphanie, a wellness retreat in Baden-Baden, Germany, the flick of a bedside switch activates a copper grid in the walls to block Wi-Fi signals, shielding guests from the temptation of sneaking a screen peak.
Photo credit: Mandarin Oriental
Still not enough? Might be time for a 30-Day Digital Detox Challenge!