Travel has an amazing way of transforming us. There’s something uniquely moving about being somewhere we’ve never been, exploring it with fresh eyes, and letting the experience of being there seep into our souls.  When we immerse ourselves in a new culture, we inevitably learn something – about ourselves, and also the world at large. We come away different than when we went in, richer for having been there and changed in ways that motivate us to expand ourselves and our lives even further.

So how do you get the most out of your travel experience? What does it take to really dive into the place you’re vacationing in, and let it infuse new energy, new thinking and new zest into your life?

The trick, according to a lot of travellers nowadays, is to vacation “off the grid”.

What does that mean? Well – generally speaking, it means putting your phone away and travelling old school.

We live in a hyper-connected world. At any given moment, anyone, virtually from anywhere, can get in touch with us and we can do the same. On top of that, social media has completely changed how we share our lives with others. There is a growing movement however, of travel-hungry people who are making a conscious decision to leave their mobile phones behind when they’re out and about on vacation. Why? Because when we’re not focused on our phones, we’re better able to absorb and truly enjoy the experience of being where we are.

Dedicated off-the-grid travellers are committed to certain practices. Here’s a few you might want to try on your next vacation:

    1. Focus on Faces – not Facebook
      Instead of uploading photos from every moment on the journey, off-the-grid travellers flip their focus to the people they meet along the way. They talk to locals and try to delve into what it’s like to live there. If you want to be an off-the-grid vacationer, avoid social media and invest your energy in the immediate environment.
    2. Use Paper Navigation – rather than Digital Maps
      Believe it or not, printed maps still exist, and using them for navigation adds an unexpected degree of fun and engagement to finding your way. What’s more? You might be surprised to discover that paper maps are easier to use than the digital alternative. You don’t have to wait for anything to load, you can jot notes down as you go, and paper maps provide a much larger and a much more clear perspective on where you are, and what’s around you.
    3. Read Books – Not Kindle
      A lot of us love to read while we’re vacation, and because we’re a digital society, it’s become common to use a mobile device as our reading source. But consider this – if you’re on the beach, or want to spend time in a local park or café – is a tablet or smart phone the best thing for indulging in a good book? There’s little to no risk of damaging a paper book in any location, and the tactile nature of its pages can be deeply satisfying. Don’t want the extra weight? No problem – pass your books off as you finish them. You’ll encourage others to use books instead of Kindle too.
    4. Send Postcards – Not Instant Messages
      Sure, it might not reach the person its meant for until you’re back home, but the joy of receiving a handwritten note on a postcard from somewhere far away, from someone who was thinking about you while they were there, is a fantastic kind of magic.
    5. Listen Locally and leave the Ear-buds Behind
      Your playlists will still be there when you get back. If you’re in a foreign location, local tunes can be music to your ears. You learn a lot about a culture from its music, so unplug and tune in.

You might be surprised at how easy (and uplifting) it can be to travel off the grid. No cords, no chargers, no heavy utility required – just real connections with the location and the people you’re there with. An off the grid vacation may just be the best getaway you’ve ever had.