We sent an internet addict on a trip without phones. This is what happened


My name is Amanda, and I am an internet addict.

This is no joke. Like a lot of travelers, I’m dependent on my smartphone. On Google. On Facebook. On being able to be connected 24/7. In fact, I AM connected nearly 24 hours a day – as a travel blogger, it’s basically my job to be on my laptop for hours a day, and to constantly be updating Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat. And let’s not even get started on how often I check my email…

But this isn’t healthy. I don’t actually need to refresh Facebook every 5 minutes, or check my email more than 15 times per day. I don’t NEED to respond to every blog comment within minutes of someone posting it. Addictions like this are hard to break. They become second-nature; our phones are now just extensions of our hands and they go everywhere with us, from work to restaurants – even to the bathroom.

Being aware of how dependent I am on all my gadgets, I decided to take a break.

RELATED: CHECK OUT OUR BRAND NEW RANGE OF DIGITAL DETOX TRIPS

If you read all the popular “travel trend” articles at the beginning of the year, you probably noticed that “digital detox” trip were predicted to be big in 2016. A digital detox is basically just taking a trip the way people used to do it: sans cell phones and laptops and cameras and anything else with screens. As a tech addict, I knew this would be a challenge. But it was a challenge I wanted to set for myself.

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So I teamed up with Intrepid Travel to go to Ecuador for a week without technology. The “Ecuador on a Shoestring” trip I went on is now offered as an official digital detox trip by Intrepid, but I just went with a regular group – and did my best to not do any of my usual while-I’m-traveling tasks. This meant no blog posts, no emails, no Snapchatting. I even left my camera at home, lest I be tempted to spend more of my time behind those screens.

And yes, it was difficult. I struggled with disconnecting (especially when others on the tour were still checking Facebook and posting to Instagram along the way), and I struggled with shifting my focus from documenting every aspect of my trip to just living it.

But I learned some surprising things during my digital detox trip, too. Things like:

It’s easier to leave social media behind than you probably think

The easiest part of the digital detox was actually ignoring social media for a week. I didn’t miss the Twitter check-ins, or stressing over which photo to share on Instagram. I didn’t have to worry about finding wifi to upload my snaps, and I could be blissfully ignorant of how many likes my Facebook posts were getting.

I realize that, as a blogger, I use social media differently than the average person. But disconnecting from the constant refreshes and notifications was easier than I thought it would be.

I rely on social media for more than I realized

Even though it was fairly easy to ignore Facebook and Twitter for a week, I quickly began to realize just how truly disconnected I began to feel without my regular check-ins. Like many, I’ve become reliant on social media for everything from family updates to getting the latest news. Without Facebook, in particular, I felt totally out of the loop with what was going on in the world.

In a way, though, it was kind of liberating – I got to spend a whole week without hearing about Donald Trump every day.

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The internet does in fact go on without you

At the end of the day, the internet (and the world) will go on without you. My blog did not implode. My email inbox did get wildly out of hand, but I was able to get it back under control pretty quickly when I got home. And, more importantly, I didn’t really miss anything while I was disconnected.

I know that FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real concern for many people like me. But when you’re away from Facebook memes and hashtags and the newest Snapchat filters, you’re not really missing out – those things will still be around once you’re reunited with your devices.