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Window Seat or Aisle Seat: Unplugging Family Vacations

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Smartphones are great for keeping kids entertained on the road, but all too often we find gadgets getting in the way of family time. Window Seat or Aisle Seat columnist Kerri Zane looks at the growing trend of family unplugging vacations and shares the top five tips for going offline when you travel.

It seems to me that our world of 24/7 connectivity, originally intended to ease our lives, has rather added a lot more stress and anxiety. Tamar Chansky, Ph.D, author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety: 4 Simple Steps to Overcome Worry and Create the Life You Want and the leading authority on stress and anxiety disorders said, “We are glued to our technology and we are afraid to let go. If we are truly wanting to function optimally and have a sustainable lifestyle, we must cultivate the discipline to let go.”

So this month, I was on the hunt for a relaxing vacation that did not include TVs, phones, laptops, emails, texting, Wii, iMacs, iPhones or anything else starting with a small i. My goal was to spend quality time with my daughters connecting, exploring and engaging. What I found is a unique sampling of truly unique unplugged destinations, way off the grid.

Lazing on the River

Spending three days to a week on one of the American West’s classic rivers is an ideal experience for families looking to unplug and reconnect. ECHO River Trips specializes in these kinds of getaways. They offer adventures on Oregon’s Rogue River and Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River, with gourmet food, comfortable camping, sleeping out under the stars, relaxing campfire jam sessions, waterfall hikes, wildlife viewing, and river side games.

O.A.R.S. is another river trip organizer offering a broader selection of rivers like the Colorado River through sections of the Grand Canyon, Cataract Canyon in Utah, Idaho’s Main Salmon River and Snake River, and Colorado’s Yampa River, Green River, and Flaming Gorge. Click here to see their family trips.

Uncharted Islands

Islas Secas off the coast of Panama is a 16-island archipelago and one of the world’s most remote destinations. You and your children can become immersed in the undersea world with giant sea turtles, large schools of spotted and/or spinner dolphin, and pilot whales. Or you can trek through jungle forests where beautiful tropical birds, snakes, and giant lizards reside. You can even try your hand at an authentic archeological dig, as it’s believed that the natives of Chiriquí inhabited Las Islas Secas from 100 BC.

The island resort supplies plenty of non-motorized sporting equipment like snorkeling gear, kayaks, fly-fishing/fishing rods and paddleboards. Stargazing events and meditation classes are also on tap.  The beauty of this family island getaway is you are not so far off the grid to enjoy luxurious treatment like three meals daily, a fully stocked in-room refrigerator and laundry services. Families can choose to stay at any of the seven casitas or rustic-styled yurts on the Islas.