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Podcast Ep. #13 How to Take an Unplugged Vacation with Courtney Scott | Out Travel the System

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Courtney Scott: I agree completely and I think that’s another great tip that you mention, which is going into your notification settings and you probably don’t even realize how many notifications you have on. I try to turn them all off. I think airplane mode, and switching off notifications is really important if you want to strike that balance. There’s a challenge with the expectation of us all being accessible, especially if it’s your boss looking for you 24 hours a day, or friends or family when they ping you and then it takes hours for you to respond, and they wonder where you are. How do you think we can cope with the professional challenges that people face when they are expected to be available and online all the time? Heather, you can also jump in on that as well.

Tansy Kaschak: Well to start I think it is not okay for anyone to expect, especially your boss, that you are available 24 hours a day because we as individuals should have the total power to turn off. Yes, you have your dedicated hours that you have agreed upon to work. Unless you are a doctor saving lives, which even there we should find some balance, I can’t justify it. I think it’s very unhealthy, and we have many studies now already showing how never disconnecting is bringing very damaging results to mental and physical health. So I think it’s all about reclaiming our land, reclaiming our space. Even if it’s little by little, and creating perhaps that hour in the morning that you wake up and before you turn your phone back on, you take half an hour or one hour for yourself. Start with one thing and see how that feels. Another quick tip I wanted to give is that a few years ago I started wearing a watch again and the reason why is because I realized that every time I wanted to see what time it was I reached for my phone, I would most likely not just look at the time but do something else.

Heather Lilleston: I love the idea of wearing a watch. I really feel like it is so easy to, whatever mood you’re in, or whatever space you’re in to respond to emails really quickly, or respond to a text really quickly, or get super frustrated when the service isn’t good and the page is loading and loading and loading. All of these things can be avoided if you just carve out a very specific amount of time where you’re going to sit down, you’re in a good zone, it’s quiet, you’re in the mood to look at your emails, you want to get some work done and then you’re so much more productive.

Courtney Scott: Heather, how are you altering your social media patterns based on this consciousness and sort of shift towards becoming more digitally detoxed? I know social media is such a big part of your business.

Heather Lilleston: Social media for me has always been really fun. It was really fun to capture images, to write stories that are connected to it, to have a little snippet to express myself and get feedback from that, from people around the world — that was always fun for me. So I’ve really maintained to make the effort to really only do it when it feels fun and that’s part of the Yoga for Bad People method as well. It’s like no matter what it is, or what you’re doing, you’ve got to find the humor in it, you’ve got to find the play in it. You lose your luggage, well, you’ve got to find the humor in it. Your plane is delayed, you’ve got to find the magic in that, the humor in that.
There’s humor and playfulness always available so if social media starts coming down like a bag of bricks like some kind of responsibility, then I put it aside. We go to these special locations for our retreats, and I’ve started to not geotag them because I don’t want to ruin the petite, gentle fragileness of these places. That’s part of the reason why we’re able to have profound experiences there is because they’re not covered with tourism or too many people, they’re still maintaining some sense of secrecy. I still like spinning a globe and letting my finger land.

Courtney Scott: I love that and I think you’re right. When it stops being fun on social media is when you should really take a step back. I think with Instagram soon eliminating likes, that will hopefully shift the way in which people engage. I think it’ll bring people back to a place where they can just use it as a diary and a place to share beautiful experiences that they’re having without the pressure of whether it’s going to rank high with likes.

Heather Lilleston: Sometimes it’s so healing to express yourself even if only one or two people like it, it doesn’t have to be 100 million comments. I love seeing one comment that says, “thank you so much for sharing, I needed to hear that today.”

Courtney Scott: So I know that for some people it’s an unimaginable concept to put down your phone for an hour, for a day, or even longer than that. Tansy, what do you we can gain when we put down the phone?

Tansy Kaschak: There’s so much noise and interference, all this is stimuli that are brought in via communication devices that giving ourselves the opportunity to disconnect is giving yourself this gift of clearing that away and going back to basics. I think there’s a lot to gain and for each person, it’s going to be different. I participate in a few meditation groups and what I hear is even though each person has a different experience of how that moment of stillness and silence manifests. Everybody has this common thread of finding your inner self, or finding your inner voice, of creating really this sacred moment and space where all that really matters is yourself and then you choose how you will give it away. Then you choose who you are going to welcome into it. The fact that because of technology we are automatically connected and always getting notifications makes it more difficult to do.

Courtney Scott: I think when I see people, particularly on vacation with their phones and I’ve seen families of five all sitting there at a dinner table with their phones, or laying on the beach chairs with their phones, and completely not engaging — it’s tragic to me. It hurts me to see this. I think it’s unfortunately just far too common and I think it’s nice to see some hotels sort of encouraging people to put down their phones at dinners and creating more of a hotel culture that limits the use of cell phones, but I think we have a long way to go.

Heather Lilleston: I just wanted to add one of the first things you do to deal with anxiety, which so many people suffer from, is find your feet on the ground, set your eyes on something in front of you. If we’re always looking at our phones, we are always taken out of the present moment. So if this is the advice over and over again to feel your feet in your shoes, feel the couch you’re sitting on, smell what’s in the air, these are some of the very immediate and basic tools that people use to settle anxiety. Staring at your phone in your hand and pulling you out of the present moment is the opposite of that.

Courtney Scott: That’s really interesting. I’ve also felt the power of making eye contact with people. If I’m riding the subway in New York, I tend to always look up and make eye contact, which is not comfortable for many people, but I feel that there’s such a power in that and if you’ve ever done eye gazing, you understand what that emotional upheaval can be sometimes. Just another reason why it’s so beautiful to look up.

Just one last thing. Let’s go around the table and name our top pick for a digital detox destination that we’re really excited about. I’ll go first, I visited the Galapagos Islands in 2016 and it was one of the only places at that time in the world where there was really, truly no service. It was during the election and we didn’t have any information about who won the presidential election until 24 hours later. There are very few places in the world where this actually exists. Getting on a boat, getting out into nature, really connecting with the beautiful, pristine landscape of the Galapagos Islands and really not having the opportunity to connect to the internet. I think it’s a top pick for me. Heather, where do you want to go next?

Courtney going off-grid in the Galapagos.

Heather Lilleston: I’m dying to go to Antarctica. I have no idea what the service is like there, but that’s my dream destination.

Courtney Scott: Tansy, I know that Heather mentioned Antarctica, I mentioned the Galapagos Islands, but there was something about Umbria that I’d love for you to discuss, and a silent dinner, which is fascinating to me.

Tansy Kaschak: I love going to places where I can be car-free. I do that sometimes even if I’m in a place where cars are available, but I will choose to spend 24-48 hours not driving or needing to engage with my phone to call an Uber. In terms of destinations, I love islands, especially the small ones where there are no cars like Panarea in Sicily, or Hydra in Greece, or even here in Columbia where there’s a place called Isla Fuerte in the middle of the ocean and there are no cars and there’s automatically a different vibe to the destination. This place in Umbria called Eremito is a hotel that is made for you to embark on a self retreat journey. People do organize retreats, but even if you don’t, just book a stay a couple of nights and there’s a sense of a retreat because it’s immersed in a forest. The rooms are in a really old building made of stones and the rooms are all individual, and activities include everything from meditation in the morning to hikes in the afternoon or silent dinners. Heather mentioned doing silent lunches at deep retreats and I find it so interesting how being in a communal activity like sharing a meal, is one of the most beautiful things to share with people. It’s great to chat, that’s mostly what we do, but shifting it to a silent experience can be very powerful. You can’t really describe it until you do it, so I highly recommend trying it. If you could organize one at home or visit a place like Eremito in Umbria, where they host silent dinners daily, it can be really special.

Courtney Scott: Really fascinating stuff. I could talk for hours about this, but unfortunately, we are out of time. Thank you both so much for joining us today. I’m Courtney Scott, guest-hosting for Nisreene Atassi. I’ll be back for two other episodes looking at festival travel and solo travel. So please come back for those on Out Travel The System brought to you by Expedia. You can also follow Expedia on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Happy travels.


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