Escaping the Everyday: Off-the-grid travel
May 26, 2023
Ready to take a break from the constant busy-ness of everyday life? For some, booking a dream trip is enough of an escape. But for others, there’s a next-level dream: getting away from it all including unplugging from emails, social media, and news. With a little planning and knowledge going in, your off-the-grid vacation can be a sensory immersion into nature, meditation, or nothing at all.
Make your off-the-grid trip a stress-free travel experience
You might be considering an into-the-wild camping retreat on your own, or perhaps choosing a rustic destination with no power or water as your escape from modern life. The reality of off-the-grid vacations is that, to some extent, you do need to have a game plan for remaining in touch with the outside world, in case of an accident or unforeseen incident. We’ll help you think through ways to stay safe and connected, so you can fully enjoy your unplugged experience knowing there’s a backup plan. Part of your agenda should be evaluating trip protection that includes medical care — but more on that later.
Benefits of traveling off-the-grid
If you’ve noticed that you feel better after a walk in a park or a quick hike along a river, there’s a reason. Research shows that ecotherapy, where you spend time in the wilderness and nature, provides a range of mental health benefits.1
It makes sense, then, that an escape from modern conveniences would provide an amplified beneficial effect. An off-the-grid vacation is exactly that opportunity to get back to nature. You can spend time exploring remote locations or rural areas with no WIFI connection; enjoy hikes through untouched forests; stay in rustic cabins or campgrounds surrounded by picturesque views. You can swim in crystal-clear waters, eat local food and simply enjoy some much-needed rest and relaxation.
In addition to discovering the joys of the outdoors, off-the-grid travel means a chance to remove the irresistible distractions of screens, from TVs to phones to smartwatches. Being more in the moment, every moment is the great reward of off-the-grid travel. You can truly appreciate your surroundings without the constant distraction of notifications, social media, news updates, or other digital noise. It's an ideal way to unwind from a busy life while connecting with yourself in a meaningful way.
4 Considerations when planning an off-the-grid vacation
When planning an off-the-grid vacation, there are several things to consider to ensure your holiday is stress-free and successful.
- Which off-the-grid location is right for you?
Choosing an off-the-grid destination isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. There are different options with different levels of “digital detox” and modern amenities. For instance, there are retreat centers and “glamping” destinations that ease you into a non-digital vacation by limiting WIFI or screen access, but still provide the comforts of running water and electric lights — or may be even quite luxurious.
If you are looking for true isolation from civilization, venturing deep into the wild may be more your style. Local outfitters can provide you with gear and advice to explore beyond the reach of cell towers — and into places where you are one with nature. Consider your previous camping experiences, weather conditions for your travel time and possible risks of your trip carefully. If you are looking for complete isolation, consider an emergency plan in case you need to reach out for help.
It is also important to research an area before embarking on your off-grid trip. Look into local rules and regulations, including permits or licenses required to access camping sites in national parks or forests. Look into the weather patterns of the area and plan accordingly, packing layers of clothing so you can adjust depending on temperature changes throughout your stay. Also, be mindful of weather changes that could cause floods or storms and affect access roads and trails.
Lastly, consider not just your ultimate destination, but what is nearby. Choosing to enter a remote area from a town with a grocery store, hotels, and restaurants means that when you exit, you can give yourself transition time and step more easily back into your everyday life — after a nice hot shower.
- How long do you want to be off-the-grid?
While the idea of being without email access or being unable to check your social media may seem appealing, consider how long you really want to unplug. Whether your social feed is a source of true joy or if you have friends or family members you want to keep tabs on, a shorter vs. longer off-the-grid trip may be a better fit for you — particularly if it’s the first one you’ve ever taken.
- Do you have the bandwidth to properly plan?
Modern conveniences are just that: convenient. Without them, even a simple weekend camping trip can become complex if you need to filter water for drinking, cooking without a stove, and unpack and pack everything you need into backpack-sized carriers. Give yourself time to consider what going off-the-grid might affect, and do research on the best ways to manage your needs. In addition, if you are traveling across borders, consider preparations such as learning key phrases in the local language to help find accommodations and food, particularly in remote areas.
- Will you need any special supplies or equipment?
Budget in advance for any supplies or equipment that may be required for an off-the-grid holiday (such as clothing suitable for unpredictable weather conditions). It is also worth taking out travel protection in case something unexpected happens during your travels. It’s a way to make sure that safety is always a priority, even when online technology isn't available. For instance, with SafeTrip travel plans, you can choose trip protection coverage for unexpected medical costs or other mishaps that can occur while traveling far from home.
5 Must-dos for a truly enjoyable off-the-grid break
For your off-the-grid getaway to be a vacation, it’s essential to take stress out of the equation. Eliminate worry and create breathing room for relaxation by checking these must-dos off your list.
- Pack light. Minimal, lightweight bags mean you can move easily and independently, jump from one mode of transportation to another without delay, and, if needed, pack or unpack quickly in case of a weather or location change. You’re going off the grid — nobody expects you to wear a different outfit every day.
- Put relaxation in the itinerary. You’ve unplugged — now what? Allow time to simply soak up your quiet, natural surroundings, and slow down to the pace of the local lifestyle. Additionally, if something unexpected arises, such as bad weather, there will be less pressure to try to cram in everything you had originally planned.
- Be prepared. Find out what are possible risks in your destination, including weather extremes or, if participating in activities or extreme sports, what healthcare resources are on hand. At the least, a first aid kid is mandatory; to be truly covered, research and purchase a plan such as SafeTrip travel medical insurance and protection in case of injury or illness. Having an emergency plan in place lets everyone feel safe, secure and able to fully enjoy their experience.
- Keep in touch. Your friends and family will understand that you need time to be offline and away from daily work and communications. However, it’s important to stay connected to ensure that if you need help, you can ask for assistance — plus be reachable if anything happens back at home. Figure out how and when you will have reliable cell phone service or a WIFI connection, put a connection time or two on the schedule and release yourself for the rest of your vacation.
- Purchase trip protection.* The last thing you want to think of is the possibility of something going wrong. However, coverage such as SafeTrip International Travel Medical from UnitedHealthcare Global will ensure you will receive care in case of an accident or unexpected illness when overseas. Or take a look at International Travel Medical Plus plan protection, which adds coverage in case you need to cancel or delay a trip due to health issues. At the very least, consider trip protection for a domestic getaway with SafeTrip Travel Protection, covering unexpected costs if you encounter delays, cancellations, or lost baggage, plus giving you access to a 24/7 Emergency Response Center, just a call away.
*Policy availability varies
1: “Small Steps to Improve Your Mental Health in 2023,” Seo, Hannah. New York Times, December 26, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/26/well/mind/mental-health-advice-2023.html
Planning your off-the-grid travel? Make sure to add your coverage for just-in-case emergencies for both medical and trip protection.