Not so long ago I was approached by a journalist who was writing an article for the Dutch Flow Magazine (published September 1st – 2017) about disconnecting from mobile devices. A large part of my Local Hideaways are perfect for going ‘off the grid’, the real deal instead of the virtual world. And it made me think. Because for me the romance of travelling is to be free and away from reality… rather like how we used to travel around carrying the Lonely Planet under our arms, looking for their ‘off the beaten track’ recommendations. The reality often was that you weren’t quite alone after all and therefore any authenticity was sometimes hard to find, but still. Faraway dates were always exciting: let’s meet at the pier on Monday 25 August at 4 p.m.…. all the while hoping that nothing would go wrong and you would actually get together. No ‘what’s apping’ back and forth or posting the most beautiful pictures on Instagram or Facebook – it’s a wonder that people still enjoy what they’re doing, everyone is always so busy creating the perfect picture.
Because of all these colourful pictures, most people have already seen everything before even reaching their destination… what’s more, because of the pictures (enhanced with a nice little filter as they often are) many are disappointed when they actually get to their destination. Because when they are there, the weather just isn’t that sunny, or a large piece of seaweed has apparently just washed ashore, preventing them from taking that perfect stunning picture of the white sandy beach and azure blue sea.
And of course I am no better, for I show some lovely pictures of Local Hideaways on my website and through social media as well, but in doing so I aim to uncover the soul of my accommodations. Small-scale, different places to spend the night in that enhance their natural surroundings and add a little something to that overall holiday experience. And actually, being online the whole time doesn’t fit in with the majority of these Local Hideaways. What’s more, a number of my addresses don’t even have mobile coverage.
And this is the problem, for the owners of these Local Hideaways don’t even want to offer WiFi, believing as they do that it doesn’t square with their concept. But this is what scares off the majority of the guests for, let’s be honest, the first question people ask these days is not “where can I find the best restaurant in this area?” but rather “what’s the WiFi code?” And this is why almost none of my Hideaways have no WiFi at all. Some have limited WiFi – which means that guests will have to go to more trouble to go online, which makes a difference. For instance, they only offer WiFi in the restaurant, reception area or common areas, but not in the rooms. This way, you won’t be taking out your IPad or mobile out of sheer boredom.
However, I was eager to experience what it would be like to be completely offline and so last summer I booked a house in las Alpujarras, at the foot of the Spanish Sierra Nevada, for myself, my husband and our two kids (aged 9 and 13). There was no WiFi and for a mobile connection you had to go to the far end of the garden. Of course, the kids protested a bit, for ‘we’ll have nothing to do!’ But actually it turned out to be a big relief. It took some getting used to the first day, but soon it was forgotten… the kids were so much more creative, went on discovery and played endlessly. Instead of being dulled they were so much livelier and I had the feeling I was finally really connecting with them again.
And the same went for me. It was quite liberating not having to check everything on my phone and planning everything online in advance. We went on tours when and where we felt like it and it didn’t matter where we ended up. I opened my senses so much more and was relieved not to be distracted by the phone all the time!
And the tide is turning, as all the media coverage on this issue clearly shows. Around me I also hear a growing need to disconnect. I therefore hope contribute to this by adding “DIGITAL DETOX” – a new option in the selection field – to the Local Hideaways website. Here you will find Local Hideaways with no or only limited WiFi!
Let’s DISCONNECT to RECONNECT!
Esther van Onna – Founder Local Hideaways. September 2017
Check the Local Hideaways website
and tick the DIGITAL DETOX selection field: www.localhideaways.com