Make the Most of Volunteering Abroad with a Digital Detox!
A digital detox means giving yourself a complete break from digital devices. This is often done to release stress and mentally refresh. It also allows you to focus on the real world and what is around you. Digital devices such as smartphones, tablets and computers have slowly worked themselves into our everyday lives, even to the point that cutting them out completely is practically impossible. Many of us are dependent on them for work and our daily routines.
However, while travelling and volunteering, you could have a great opportunity to unplug and fully enjoy the present moment without any digital interruptions. You will feel mentally refreshed, and you can return home with new principles to introduce into your daily life, redcing your reliance on your digital devices and cutting back on their use.
The Benefits of a Digital Detox
A digital detox will enable you to focus on and fully enjoy the present moment. Being away from social media and connecting with other people through so many different platforms can, in some cases, give us an anxious feeling. That being said, the only way to experience the fact that this separation is OK - and also rewarding - is to try! After just a little while, the feeling will pass, and you will experience a calmness. You will realise that it is actually the digital engagement giving you stress, and the detox will help you relax and utilise each moment fully.
Better Social Engagement
A detox from digital devices allows you to connect with people around you, to engage in conversations without interruptions, and to give eachother your full attention. This allows you to re-connect to your social skills, partake in more meaningful conversations, and a develop deeper connections with other people. It allows you to be completely present for the people around you.
Be Present in Your Location
When visiting a new country or city, being on a digital detox can allow you to experience the location with a clearer mind. And you can enjoy a new part of the world without distractions. Imagine a break from the constant distractions that come through our electronic devices; you could soak up all the beautiful sites and scenes your destination has to offer.
Focus Inward on Yourself
Through your digital detox you can fully focus on the present moment. As well as focusing on your location, you draw your attention inwards and focus on yourself. When we wake up in the morning, very often, the first thing we do is to look at our phone. In this way, we start our day by focusing outwards on other people or situations outside ourselves. Allow yourself to start your day by checking in on how you are feeling, as well as how you want this day to be, before focusing on other people through social media. Bring with you an old fashion alarm that can wake you up in the morning instead of your phone. This can also be done at home to adopt a less stressful morning routine. By being present, we can connect with ourselves, potential changes we want to make, and the reasons why. Without interruptions, we are able to give this self-connection our full attention, and we can be more productive, utilising each moment.
Better Quality of Sleep
By avoiding looking at your phone before you go to bed, you can also increase your quality of sleep. All the information you get through a screen is processed by your mind, making it hard for the brain to calm and get to sleep. The blue light from a screen also suppresses melatonin in the body, which makes us more awake. This can interrupt our natural sleeping pattern, and give us a lower quality sleep. Not using your phone two hours before you go to bed is be recommended, whether home or travelling.
Take a Digital Detox while Volunteering Abroad
There is always a possibility to cut down on our usage of digital devices in our every-day life. A proper detox however, might be easier to do as you are travelling. And volunteering abroad is a great opportunity to do a digital detox. As you are volunteering, you are staying in one place. Your days, accommodation and food (in some cases) are planned for you, and you therefore don’t need to worry about planning and organising, as it is all taken care of. So there are fewer excuses for needing your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Tips to Make your Detox Easier
For many people, phones double as a camera, an alarm clock, a place to take notes, and even a map. So here a few things you should take with you to allow yourself a proper break from your digital devices:
- An small alarm clock
- A watch
- A camera. There are many cheap options on the market now that take quality pictures, so you can still capture moments from your trip without touching your phone.
- A note book and pen
- A book or a sketch book if drawing is more your thing.
- A map. You can download and print one before you head off. Or ask for one when you arrive to your destination.
Also don't forget to tell your friends and family, so they don't worry that they won't hear from you.
Top Volunteer Projects for a Digital Detox
While you can choose to do a digital detox on any volunteer placement, some of our projects make it even easier for you. Situated in beautiful, remote locations, you can't help but want to disconnect and really take in your surroundings. Also with their very limited (or non-exsistant) access to internet, it makes it even easier to put the phone down for an extended period. Below is a list of recommended volunteer programmes if you are looking to try a digital detox.
Peru Amazon Conservation Project
The Peru Amazon Conservation Project is located in a remote area of the Peruvian Amazon. Volunteers stay on location, where you have limited electricity (only two hours every second night), and very limited internet - about 30 minutes per week to each volunteer. There are also no shops or cafes in near by, so it is a truly remote location. Therefore, this will be a great opportunity to relax and properly enjoy the Amazon through a unique experience.
Peru Wildlife Sanctuary
At this project, you will stay on site in the Amazon rainforest at the Wildlife Sanctuary. There is electricity at the location, but you will not have access to Wi-Fi, and even with a local SIM, the signal you get is very weak. Since the closest internet cafe and restaurants are about 30 minutes away, it's a great place to take your digital detox. Enjoy being on location surrounded by the rescued wildlife.
Costa Rica Sea Turtle Conservation Project
At this turtle conservation project,you will be staying at the project site on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. The location is a remote area close to the beach, and you can only get there by boat. There are no shops or cafes nearby. The energy here is provided by solar power, so it needs to be used sparingly. There is no Wi-Fi connection on site. It is possible to use a local SIM card, but the signal will be very weak. So just enjoy the sound of the waves and the calming scenery, free from any input from the outside world.
Cambodia Elephant Sanctuary Project
During the week (Sun-Fri), you will stay on location at the Elephant Sanctuary in the beautiful Cambodian forest. Located a few kilometres from a town, you do not have access to shops and cafes while on site. And with no internet on site, you can enjoy the amazing views of the forest from your accommodation and volunteer common areas with no interruption from your phone or social media.
Borneo Marine Conservation Project
As a volunteer at the Borneo Marine Conservation project, you will stay on a remote island 45 minutes from the eastern coast of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. You will be staying in tents at the project site on the beach, without internet access. So take the chance to enjoy the crystal-clear water and white beach in peace and quiet.
Laos Wildlife Sanctuary
At the Laos Wildlife Sanctuary, you will stay in bungalows on site at the sanctuary. There is no Wi-Fi access at the sanctuary for volunteers. There is a great hangout place with dartboard and board games, a perfect opportunity to socialize with your fellow volunteers and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Get the Most out of your Volunteer Experience with a Digital Detox
A digital detox will allow you to fully enjoy your volunteer experience. Lower your stress level while engaging in meaningful conversations with like-minded people you meet on your travels. Soak up the beautiful sceneries of your chosen destination through a break from the constant flow of information from the outside world. Enjoy your detox!