Unplugged: Trips that Ban Cellphones, Even for Photos

Would you take a trip if you couldn’t use your cellphone? A new tour company called Off the Grid is asking travelers to put their cellphones away and not even use them for photos.

“When you’re somewhere new, there’s a lot to soak up, a lot to see, a lot of cool, interesting people to meet. Your phone can distract you,” said Off the Grid founder Zach Beattie.

Off the Grid trips, he says, are designed to be “fully unplugged and very social.”

The first trip is to Lisbon, Portugal, in July, with others planned to Prague; the Croatian coast; Barcelona, Spain; Lima, Peru; and Tulum, Mexico. “People have signed up for every trip we’ve launched so far,” Beattie said.

Tours are seven to 10 days, with small groups of up to 16 people. Prices range from $1,500 to $1,650, including accommodations in hostels, some meals and ground transportation (but not airfare). Itineraries include at least three excursions and two social events, with an emphasis on unique experiences over bucket-list sightseeing. The Lisbon tour includes surfing lessons, yoga on the beach, a day of sailing and dinner with a family to learn about local cuisine and wines.

“We are under-scheduling,” Beattie said. “The entire focus of the trip is mindful travel and not cramming every single site into your trip.”

The phone ban won’t be enforced quite as strictly as it seems at first glance. “We want it to be volunteer,” he said. “We’re not collecting phones and throwing them in a locked trunk. It’s held by you, but put in a pouch, and you state your intentions for the week,” whether that’s checking your social media once or twice a day or a total blackout.

Tour-goers also get a “dumb phone” without internet access that’s loaded with numbers for group leaders and other participants, both for…
Source: Mobile Tech Today

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