We’re all witnessing the times when it’s become more important to capture a perfect Instagram photo from your vacation than actually enjoying the travel. Off The Grid is a project that wants to change this trend. They’ll take you on a fun trip, and you can choose attractive locations all over the world. But there’s a catch: you’ll have to stay offline and hand over your precious smartphone.
The founder and CEO of Off The Grid, Zach Beattie, describes himself as a “former smartphone addict.” He would spend his vacations taking “perfect” photos for social media and being constantly online. But, he changed his ways, and now he wants to help others do the same. His company organizes tours for groups of 24 to 30 people, taking them all over the world. But, Zach wants to help them live through the experience “unplugged,” without their smartphones.
Here’s how it works: when you arrive at the destination, you need to put your smartphone in a pouch that will keep it locked away. It sounds like the method used at Jack White’s concerts, you may remember that story.
But before you get a panic attack and think “oh but what if there’s an emergency?!” here’s the deal: you’ll get another phone in return. A “dumb phone” that doesn’t have a camera or the internet access. So, you can make phone calls and send good ol’ texts, but you can’t be online. Also, if it’s too difficult for you to ditch your phone completely, there’s an option to check your phone once, twice or three times during the trip. Just so you don’t go cold turkey.
But what about Google Maps? What about restaurant reviews? And how on Earth are you gonna take photos? So many questions. Well, the Off the Grid’s team will equip you with some old-fashion gadgets: the aforementioned “dumb phone,” equipped with group + emergency numbers. You’ll get a travel journal, analog watch, and maps of the city. They’ll also share a list of their favorite nearby spots and side excursions. And of course, you can bring your camera, but it just can’t be your smartphone camera.
Beattie tells Business Insider that “the challenge of making it the full 10 days without a smartphone aligns with people’s desire to push themselves outside their comfort zones when they are on vacation.” Also, it makes it easier for them to “survive” without smartphones when they’re in a group that goes through the same process. I guess it’s peer pressure, or peer support, depends how you look on it.
Over the years, we’ve seen many consequences of a chase for “perfect” (and often just cliché) social media photos. Popular locations have been destroyed, national parks have been damaged, and even some lives have been lost. This is why I think that Off The Grid is a great move and a pretty interesting project. It can remind you how you can really enjoy the travel and be present with all your senses. And I guess it can heal “selfitis,” too.
Now, personally, I don’t get why anyone needs to be forced to go offline when they’re on a vacation – being constantly online is one of the reasons why I need vacations in the first place. But of course, it’s just me. I believe there are many people who need support and serious discipline to get off their phones. So, I guess Off The Grid is just what they might need.
[via Business Insider]