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Digital detox

Digital Detox and what it does to us

Digital detox is one of those things that we all know is good for us or would do good for us. Nevertheless, we mostly avoid digital peace. For reasons. On the one hand, we need social media in our everyday professional life (the best excuse, even if the fact is true) and on the other hand, we love being online, seeing great content, exchanging ideas with others and being inspired. However, it is often the case that we spend more time online than we would like. And that's where habit comes into play and sometimes a certain dependency and the automatic use of the app when you have a moment to take a breather.


Funnily enough, we as authors realized in our last editorial meeting that we have all, more or less voluntarily, gone without technical devices for a certain period of time. The digital detox was partly planned and partly unplanned, but it's best to read for yourself what experiences we had. The unexpected experience was entirely positive for everyone, at least overall, because being away from all kinds of screens can be difficult. We ask ourselves why we don't take a break from the media more consciously and more often.

That would be a good idea for the upcoming Christian Lent, which runs from Carnival in February to Easter. Who is participating?

Our experience reports

Cecile: Consciously reduce screen time during a retreat

In November last year I spontaneously booked myself into a retreat in Fuerteventura. The retreat was called “Inner Power” and, in addition to yoga, time by the sea and fellowship with other women, it promised to spend less time on the cell phone. Cell phone-free times were agreed upon for this purpose. In the evening before going to bed, we should put the cell phones in a fixed place in the living room of the villa and then not touch them again until the next breakfast. Not a big deal in itself. But you wouldn't believe how often you want to take a look at all the communication apps before you fall asleep. I really enjoyed my free time in the evenings. Extensive conversations without a quick look at your cell phone. Time didn't play a big role either, you didn't feel the need to constantly look at it (on the screen); Sure, we weren't in the typical work and everyday rhythm either. But we were definitely more focused. More with us. 

Of course, going to bed without your cell phone also means that a new alarm function was needed. We were gently woken up every morning with a gong and were then able to slowly start the day. Not only was the cell phone still taboo, we also spent the morning in peace. That means we didn't speak until breakfast. Absolute peace. In these special hours there was time to do a yoga session, go to the sea - here too in absolute peace - 10 women in one fan and no one said a word, to meditate there, swim or walk in the sea. We journaled, read and then broke the silence for breakfast a good three to four hours after getting up. And then everyone was allowed to answer their cell phones again.

I really enjoyed the time. I felt closer to myself. Less connected to the outside world. But without missing anything. My thoughts were clearer, time passed more consciously. Sometimes I still manage not to have my cell phone with me in the morning and evening. But that is in any case an exception. 

less screen time
Digital Detox Retreat

Nadine: How a challenge gave rise to completely new motivation

Inspired by my interview with Linda Meixner from the Offline Institute, I joined the “Offtober” challenge last October and gave up social media for a whole month. So I stayed away from Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube etc. for 31 days and only answered messages on WhatsApp at fixed times.

The actual challenge involves uninstalling the apps on which you otherwise spend (too) much time from your cell phone and doing without them. Back then, I did the soft version of it, so to speak: I left the apps on my phone, “allowed” myself one or two things and simply tried to handle this little thing less.

What exactly did that look like? I approved my work Instagram account for posting content, but I didn't use my personal one for the entire month. I also completely avoided Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. On YouTube I only watched individual videos from one or two creators that I follow there. I completely refrained from continuing to watch the suggested videos.

For the first few days, everything was surprisingly easy for me. No cell phone, no problem, I thought. Of course, out of habit, I picked up my cell phone dozens of times every day, checked after a second that I wasn't “allowed” to do that, and then put it away again. This went on for a few days. Sometimes I've had apps open only to close them again very quickly (similar to when I accidentally pressed the Internet button). Over time I also looked for loopholes. I'm not allowed on social media? Ok, good, but the daily newspaper XY website is allowed, right? Well... In the end I was strict with myself and tried not to make excuses and not to replace my banned apps and sites with others. After all, that wouldn't have been productive at all.

After almost a month of reduced cell phone usage, I noticed the following:

I didn't miss a lot of things in the slightest (Facebook, LinkedIn). I missed other things a lot during that time (Pinterest and Instagram, the latter of which was definitely the hardest for me to give up, even though the app is the one that I find mentally the worst does …)

What did the whole thing ultimately bring me?

Those who have gone without their cell phones for a long time reported greater alertness, more energy and better focus. I didn't notice any of this in the first few days. Impatient as I am, I wanted to throw it back straight away. But: good things take time! After a week I noticed the first of these positive effects. I was suddenly motivated to do things that I would otherwise only have done with a lot of effort (household, administrative tasks), had more energy, slept better and was just much more productive overall. I procrastinated a lot less and even jumped up once or twice as if I had been bitten by a tarantula to get things done straight away. Unfortunately, after this month offline, I quickly fell back into old patterns. I will definitely start another round of digital detox. Maybe even as off-March or off-April. I may be able to maintain the increased time without my cell phone beyond the month.

Nadine offline

Geraldine: Lost your cell phone - gained peace of mind

Anyone who knows me knows that I like to talk and communicate a lot. On my return trip from Scotland last year, under mysterious circumstances, my cell phone went into the plastic tray in the security gate - but didn't come out after being screened. Which initially led to a lot of despair for me because a) the departure was getting closer and b) no one wanted to or could help me on the assembly line because it was really very full. After the initial shock, I thought on the plane what the stupidest thing would be if the cell phone remained missing. In addition to a multitude of personal notes and new text ideas, I was particularly annoyed with myself for not having made proper backups of my photos. There was relief the next morning because the cleaning crew had found the phone during the night, but - thanks to Brexit - it took another ten days until it got through customs and ended up back with me.

Some exciting things happened to me in those ten days

First of all, I had to plan my day completely differently in advance and communicate by email or landline phone. To do this, I often had to first ask for phone numbers via other platforms because of course I don't know a single number other than my own. In addition, for appointments I had to be at the agreed place at the agreed time and hope that both I and the others arrived at the same place on time. It wasn't possible to postpone it at short notice. I also had to plan my routes using public transport in advance and write everything down so that the connections and directions were correct. No Google Maps and no app could help me on the way. A few times I also asked passers-by what time it was because I also use the phone as a clock and alarm clock. Which often led to funny small talks with people about the times when there were no cell phones.

And last but not least, I worked very concentratedly in the office and (almost) without distractions, which meant that I finished faster and had enough time to walk home or to my appointment. I usually arrived there pretty relaxed and refreshed and had enough time along the way to wonder about the people who almost always and everywhere just stare at their cell phones. However, just a few days later I was there again. But the difference is that every now and then I switch the phone to airplane mode so that I can write in peace.

make phone calls like before

Ina: I'm a digital late bloomer

When most of my friends already had smartphones and Facebook, I was still firmly convinced that it was all just hype that would die down at some point. Like Tamagotchis or bubble tea. Not even close! Especially since I became a digital nomad, the World Wide Web and constant digital accessibility have become a necessity for me. The Internet has allowed me to work remotely for seven years. And in my private life, I don't just use social media etc. to get rid of boredom and stay up to date. But also to find my way better in my constantly changing environment. 

Every now and then there is a break from broadcasting

The contrast is even more stark when I completely pause broadcasting. Around 2017 during a 40-day pilgrimage from Le Puy en Valais to Pamplona. Or 2022 during my digital detox on the Way of St. James from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. I recently had my most extreme offline experience to date during my 24-day Atlantic crossing by sailboat. Because it's different whether you turn off Wi-Fi and mobile data on land - knowing that you can simply turn them back on if necessary. Or whether you are actually hundreds of nautical miles away from the digitalized world.

Reset button of the senses

Every single one of my digital breaks were small door openers to me and the people in my immediate vicinity. Who am I when I'm completely alone? What does a thought look like that I can finish without getting distracted? How long does a conversation last if literally no one intervenes? What do I see, smell and hear when I concentrate fully on my surroundings instead of wasting my time? For me, a digital detox is a reset button for my senses. And last but not least: a gift of time. Because when digital screen time suddenly drops from 2 hours to 10 minutes a day, there is suddenly so much room. Space that initially feels like a yawning emptiness. Until you fill it with good thoughts, feelings and activities.

Offline on the sailboat

© Photos: Cécile, Nadine, Geradine, Ina


  • Nadine

    These are nice experiences that I would like to “experience” for myself too. I (curiously) already had an inspiration yesterday that my tablet/cell phone use in the morning might be leading to some kind of quicksand. I'm often so captivated until lunchtime (Pinterest, researching things that interest me or even YouTube videos) that I literally have to force myself to do something. I enjoy it or it's something I'm interested in, so I somehow can't understand this subsequent lack of interest and the like. Is there a psychological/scientific explanation for this?

    • Good travel

      Dear Nadine, thank you for your lovely feedback and your exciting reflection. We don't know of a scientific explanation, but there certainly is. Maybe in neuroscience? Please let us know. Kind regards, your Good Travel Team

      Kind regards, Geraldine


    I found the reports very interesting. I'm (unfortunately) the kind of person who spends far too much time on my cell phone. I've been trying to change this for about a week now and have imposed a few rules on myself:
    - Cell phone disappears into a drawer at work and is only taken out once an hour at most.
    -I have set a limit of 30 minutes per day for Insta, YouTube and news apps. The apps will then be blocked and will not be available again until the next day.
    -When I watch a film or series, I put the phone in another room

    I have to admit that at the moment it's still a matter of "pushing through" the rules and I don't always feel comfortable when my cell phone is not in sight. I hope that this will change soon and that it will become normal (and feel normal) when you put your phone away or turn it off to concentrate on something.


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