Unplug Your Travel Tech for #onedayoffline

Beams of light in the dark

If the average adult spends 6 hours a day online, it’s hardly surprising we struggle to switch off when we’re away. All those habits of checking emails, sports scores and our Twitter feed can soon add up to take a chunk out of our holiday without us even noticing. That’s why I was intrigued by Cathay Pacific’s new #onedayoffline project. Let them explain:

At Cathay Pacific we believe in living Life Well Travelled. And we think that by going offline for just one day, travellers will experience the world from a whole new perspective.

That’s why we’ve created the #onedayoffline project – a movement designed to inspire like-minded travellers to see the world differently, experience richer real world moments, and create longer lasting meaningful memories.

They’re challenging everyone to make a pledge about how they’d see the world differently with that day offline. Pledges so far include ‘meet people face to face, not on Facebook’, ‘disconnect to reconnect’ and ‘spend the day bushwalking’.

Offline travel industry project by Cathay Pacific user pledges
Here’s my promise. What’s yours?

I realise that by posting about this on a blog I’m being a hypocrite (how else were you going to read it except in a web browser?), but ultimately the aim of #onedayoffline isn’t to boycott the internet forever – it’s to show that we need to redress the balance between online and real life activity. So if you read this post, potter about on other social media for a bit and then complete the challenge, that’s ok. You don’t have to become a total luddite to appreciate a break from the noise of technology.

Internet connection issues using Munch's The Scream as inspiration
The panic we all experience when we can’t go on the internet – do we just need to get out more?! Credit: Cloud9realtime.com.

Life Online: The Statistics

Think you’re not dependent on apps, search bars and location services? Think again.

  • Cathay Pacific reported that 18% of social media users can’t go more than 2 hours without checking it. That’s a lot of news feed refreshing. They also found the average person has 7 social media apps on their phone.
  • Ofcom’s Communications Market Report found that, in March 2015 alone, UK visitors spent 51 billion minutes on Facebook’s services (Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.), across computer and mobile devices. They spent 34 billion minutes on Google’s services (Google, YouTube, etc.). As for the UK’s Twitter users, 11% used it more than 10 times a day.
  • A study from A.T. Kerney concluded that Brazil has the most internet-addicted population, with 71% of Brazilian people using the internet at least once an hour. Close behind are Nigeria and South Africa.
Rules of train station in Sweden seen on platform
Did you know you can’t take balloons onto the platform at Malmo station? Neither did I until I went there and spotted this sign.

Offline Travel Discoveries

Not every adventure needs Google to guide you through it. Here are some of the biggest things I discovered when I stepped away from gadgets…

  • One of the world’s most beautiful libraries is hidden inside the Iglesia de San Francisco, Lima. The tour guide mentioned it as a casual aside – “Oh, there’s not much upstairs, but maybe go and see the library if you want…” – but it’s essential sightseeing in my book.
  • It’s only when you look up that you realise how many tourists carry their iPads in public and take idiotic selfies on them. Be the one who actually absorbs what’s going on. I like to look out for unusual street signs, vintage shop lettering and hidden spots of calm in the middle of a city.
  • Just because the internet says a place is amazing, doesn’t mean it’ll thrill you. I found Pfunds Molkerei, a famous lavishly decorated cheese shop in Dresden, was a huge disappointment.
Rome castle overlooking the river and city view
Just one tiny scrawl of many in the stonework at Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome.

What to Do During Your #onedayoffline

Stuck for inspiration? Try some of these to get you started.

  • Old buildings and walls often have layers of graffiti scratched into them, from the Colosseum and Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome to the stairwells of St. Rumbold’s Cathedral in Mechelen, so keep your eyes peeled. People have been carving names and statements into stone for thousands of years, with a permanence the internet just doesn’t have.
  • Believe it or not, there are still some shops and sights flying under the online radar. If you only stuck to advice from Google Maps, you’d overlook them completely. Be curious and wander away from the main streets to uncover something a bit different – think temporary street art, garage sales, pop-up shops and secret beach coves.
  • Take a class in your destination – either to build on an existing skill or to dip your toes in the water with something unusual. From drop-in yoga and Pilates sessions to Bollywood dancing or language lessons with locals, there will be a course for you.

What would you do with #onedayoffline? Or are you unashamedly addicted to the net and you can’t imagine 24 hours without it? Join the conversation.

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