Cell phones and other devices offer many benefits to travelers. The luxury of having directions, admission prices and a convenient camera handy can’t be underestimated when you and your family are exploring new or favorite destinations.
But electronic gadgets can also keep tech-addicted travelers in a digital daze, more focused on what’s happening via text or social media than in some of the world’s most exciting places. Thus the trend toward tech-free trips that have families disconnecting from their devices – to reconnect with each other.
Tech-free travel you say? With kids? With WiFi, cell service and satellite TV now being beamed to even some of the world’s most remote locations, pulling off an unplugged getaway can be easier said than done. But it is possible. And you don’t necessarily have to leave behind (or confiscate) everyone’s phones and tablets to do it.
A growing number of places offer at least the option of turning in or locking up devices, if not staying in totally tech-free rooms. And a handful of other places, from rustic to glamorous, provide an intentionally tech-free environment for your family vacay with no phones or TVs at all—and extremely limited WiFi. What they do offer are so many amenities and activities that no one will even miss logging on.
Located in Tucson, Arizona, this all-inclusive, family-owned dude ranch boasts a full menu of things to do for all ages and interests…and you won’t need a charger for any of it. Days filled with horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking and fly fishing are followed by cowboy cookouts, s’mores by the campfire, and live entertainment well into the evening.
A fully supervised kids ranch and riding program, as well as a swimming pool and imaginative arts and crafts, keep young visitors entertained so mom and dad can try yoga and other wellness pursuits, or relax at the spa.
Known by frequent visitors as a true western paradise, Montana Sky Guest Ranch has all of the expected ranch-style activities, but kicks it up a notch. There’s horseback riding, hiking and legendary fly fishing in one of the world’s most beautiful locations, as well as a world-class championship golf course, yoga, massage, exceptional fine dining and luxury cabins. Exciting kids and teen programs and activities are offered morning to night.
Located just 30 minutes outside of Yellowstone National Park, the Ranch is known for its famous geysers, rivers, lakes and variety of birds and wildlife, but not for outstanding cell service.
At the tippy top of Maui’s famed Road to Hana in Hawaii, you can experience a low-tech vacation in supremely high style. The beauty and serenity of the lush and natural surroundings are only accentuated by the lack of telephones, TVs, radios, and even clocks. But you’ll be way too involved in the extensive daily schedule of Hawaiian-themed activities and classes like lei making, hula and ukulele lessons, horseback riding, throw-net fishing instruction and a fruit-tasting tour, or the many excursions into and around Maui to miss those electronic things. Families will enjoy on-site mini-golf, supervised activities for children, a gorgeous infinity pool, fine dining with a Polynesian flair and babysitting services.
These, and other, tech-free vacation destinations do offer WiFi and other communication tools in hotel common areas, so you can access it if there’s a work or Instagram emergency, but many find that family travel untethered to technology gives a whole new meaning to, and appreciation for, “face time.”
By // Stacy Barry
Tips for traveling
Strike a balance between
The upside of bringing a laptop, tablet or even a smartphone is watching movies on the plane or in a car and having fun apps to play. This is great for passing the time but decide on the appropriate time and place for screen time.
Try something like this: Tech is OK only at the house or hotel room, and only at night. Daytime is for outside play, adventure, exploring and family interaction, so leave devices back in the room.
Share your playlist
Make music a fun part of your vacation. Have everyone download a personal playlist to share with the family in the car or where you’re staying. Kids can turn parents on to the music they love. Parents can expose kids to songs from their generation.
Kids get homesick for their friends when they’re out of town. Respect their desire to briefly communicate with their friends and agree on a time it’s OK to contact them—like on a lazy afternoon in or after dinner.
Kids love playing classic board and card games—all of which easily fit in a suitcase. Mad Libs and Car Bingo are great for the road, while charades gets the whole family involved, and requires no equipment at all.
Source: Common Sense Media
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