close menu

Getting Away From It All

Some hotels are now offering you a chance to surrender your cell phone and laptop and iPad upon check-in. This is being pitched as a benefit.

And maybe it is. I heard about this on a radio report (HT: KYW/Philadelphia) and it was in the Wall Street Journal today, so it’s real: Hotels are offering special weekends, rooms, and/or discounts if you check your tech at the door and embark on a weekend of “digital detox.” They’ll even take the TVs and phones out of the room for you. Reduced stress! A real vacation!

From the Journal:

The services take similar approaches. Typically, they ask travelers to surrender their electronic devices upon check-in. In return, concierges provide them with old-fashioned diversions, from board games to literary classics….. The programs are tied to Americans’ seeming inability to detach their eyes and ears from their cellphones, e-readers, tablets and laptops—even when on vacation. According to a recent survey of more than 2,000 people by American Express, 79% of travelers expect to remain connected all or some of the time on their next vacation.

That would be a nightmare for me. I know I can’t go cold turkey off tech, even from my World’s Worst Smartphone (a Windows Mobile 6.1 phone with the back cover pretty much melted off). You want proof? I’M ON VACATION RIGHT NOW. Can’t you tell? No, you can’t, because I’m STILL HERE. Granted, it’s just a week off from my other job, and I intended to continue to serve you, the Nerdist reading public, all week as per usual, but, still, this is as close I get to vacation and I’m online. I travel and I bring a pile of tech with me, from the computer to a MiFi to a TV tuner to all sorts of cables and chargers. I can’t help it. It’s what I do.

And, as fellow nerds, it’s what YOU do, most likely. You’re tethered to the Net no matter where you are. You text, you use the Web, you check your email several times an hour, you’re never away. Could you use a few days off the grid? Do you ever think, you know, a couple of days without email could be a good thing? What among your collection of tech items COULD you give up for a few days — your iPhone, your game console, your computer? Share in the comments, while I continue to subvert the very idea of a vacation.

LIGHTNINGFACE Hits Oscar Isaac in the Face with Lightning

LIGHTNINGFACE Hits Oscar Isaac in the Face with Lightning

How Chopsticks Reveal the Secrets of Your Kneecaps

How Chopsticks Reveal the Secrets of Your Kneecaps

The Most Objective Study Yet Finds No Link Between Video Games and Violence

The Most Objective Study Yet Finds No Link Between Video Games and Violence



  1. Blake says:

    I’ve done this before gone on vacation and tried to not use any tech. The best I did was get online and check my phone for one hour after I ate in the evening. I still get a little twitchy if I don’t play my DS after a few days.

  2. Jen McCown says:

    I actually just got back from a weeklong Alaska cruise (wherein I had no cel signal and no internet) and an extra 5 days in Vancouver and Anchorage (wherein I had no data access on my phone, and little internet). I’m an internet junkie – I have more computers than shoes at my house – and before I left, I thought i would suffer some kind of medical condition resulting from all that withdrawl.

    It turned out to be truly wonderful. I got my nose out of a keyboard long enough to spend a ton of time with my kids AND read twelve (yes, twelve) books on vacation, and it’s had a good effect on me since I’ve been back. I’m not the total addict I was…only about 60% of the addict I was, considering I’m on RIGHT NOW writing about my non-internet addiction.

  3. Paul says:

    I specifically pick my vacation spots for low/no cell coverage. Camping in the hills seems to work pretty well. When I get there, the iPhone gets shut off and shoved in the glove compartment. This is a policy my wife and I instituted after she got called back to the office from a vacation a few years back. Disconnecting is what it’s all about.

  4. Craig says:

    This is why I love going to my uncle’s cottage. No cell reception, no TV, no internet, not even landline power.

  5. Sam says:

    So long as spectra vision is comped for the loss, I’m good

  6. Kyle says:

    When i was deployed it was hard with no cell phone signal but after the 1st month it was really nice to get away from that aspect of life. No internet, no texts, no nothing lol. And when i came home it was like when i got my first iphone all over again. I would be interested in what kind of discounts the hotel would give…free!!!

  7. paul says:

    I don’t know, I use a LOT of gadgets in my daily life, but chucking them all for a couple of good books and some crosswords sounds pretty attractive to me. Better still, a silent retreat ( where you spend a few days not talking with anyone.

  8. Mike says:

    We Jews who are observant take a break from tech one day a week, and for holidays. I check my email until right before the Sabbath starts and immediately after it finishes (like a smoker and a long flight), but the disconnect allows you to read, spend time with family and friends, and do stuff outside and it forces you to find other ways to entertain yourself that are more likely to be active.

  9. Robin says:

    They can have my smartphone when they pry it from my cold dead fingers. Seriously, though, my Android makes vacations easier. I can keep an eye out for flight delays, check into flights, board the plane, use Google Navigation to avoid getting lost, use Google Translate to help in non-English speaking countries, book a hotel at the last minute, check out hotel reviews, rent a car, get public transport maps…shall I go on? My phone takes a lot of the hassle out of vacation. Traveling is easier now because of tech. And no e-reader? That’s just stupid. Reading is how I unwind, in the first place.

    And for those of us running our own businesses, tech gives us the ability to travel more without fear of losing income.

    So, no, I won’t be giving up my tech on vacation anytime soon.

  10. Going on a cruise helped me. No phone service, no wifi (or was it just redonkulously costly?). At first, I hyperventilated gently for several hours, and then… my shoulder muscles relaxed.

  11. Julie says:

    I travel a lot for work and often end up in countries where I’m unable, or it’s not practical, to use my cell phone. In these cases, I realize how nice it feels to be without technology for a couple of days. It really is like a detox.

    Although it’s almost impossible for me to do it unless I’m forced to, I highly recommend it. Find a comfy chair and a good book, or have a conversation!

  12. Tanya says:

    I can give up everything but my iPhone. Which technically means I’m giving up nothing. I still have games, tv, e-mail and the net. Why would I need anything else. I am never more than a foot away from my iPhone. It’s become a part of me and I’m not even ashamed to admit it.

  13. Sawyer says:

    I like the idea in theory, but why would I pay a hotel more when I could just leave everything at home to begin with?

  14. Moofie says:

    So, I give them my phone and portable video thingy, and pay them for phone and pay per view?

    How about no!

  15. Emily says:

    It would be difficult to be separated from the Internet, but it would be nice to go to a place to just read without any distractions.

  16. Candace says:

    I love the idea of surrendering your technology – as long as they take good care of it of course.
    While on vacation this year, we’ll only be bringing cell phones, and that’s mostly for safety – GPS just in case we get lost. Really, I can’t wait to be “off the grid” for a week.
    I feel so plugged in so much of the time that it’s a nice break if even for a day. And when you get back, it’s that much sweeter! I think…