The effects of disconnecting while travelling
What happens when you leave your devices at home when you go on holiday?
Fear and frustration followed by liberation, says a new study on how digital detox affects tourists.
Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA), the University of Greenwich and the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) analysed tourists who lost access to mobile phones, laptops, tablets, social media, the internet and navigation tools while on holiday.
The study involved 24 travellers from seven countries who detoxed for 24 hours. Examining participants’ emotional states before, during and after the detox, researchers found that many of the travellers experienced anxiety, irritability and withdrawal symptoms at first, but growing acceptance, enjoyment and even liberation later, reports Travel Talk.
“In the current ever-connected world, people are used to constant information access and various services provided by different applications,” said lead author Dr Wenjie Cai.
“However, many people are increasingly getting tired of constant connections through technologies and there is a growing trend for digital-free tourism, so it is helpful to see the emotional journey that these travellers are experiencing.
“Our participants reported that they not only engaged more with other travellers and locals during their disconnected travels, but that they also spent more time with their travel companions.”
“Understanding what triggers consumers’ negative and positive emotions can help service providers to improve products and marketing strategies,” said Dr Brad McKenna of UEA’s Norwich Business School.
“We found that some participants embraced and enjoyed the disconnected experience straight away, or after struggling initially, while for others it took a little bit longer to accept the disconnected experience.
“Many also pointed out that they were much more attentive and focused on their surroundings while disconnected, rather than getting distracted by incoming messages, notifications or alerts from their mobile apps.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, digital detoxes seemed to affect solo travellers more. The study showed they felt less confident and more affected than those travelling in a group.
Have you ever totally ‘dropped out’ on holiday? How did it affect you?