Phrases like ‘living in the moment’ and ‘being alive to the present’ are often heard in the twenty first century. Unfortunately, these phrases are spoken more as a wish or aspiration than what you actually experience.
In fact, most of us don’t even recall when was the last time we experienced such moments. Was it last year, or a decade ago? Only one thing is certain- it was before smartphones became part of our lives.
That smartphones keep us from enjoying the present moment- instead presenting us with a constant distraction-is something we all acknowledge. Although we have little idea what to do about it.
Unless you are the 26 year old Zach Beattie, that is.
Unplugging the problem
Beattie- who experienced the sometimes confounding effects of tech use – used to work in the tech industry before quitting in January to start his dream venture, Off the Grid. The company offers 7 to 10 day trips for small groups of people to destinations around the world.
So, what has that got to do with the aforementioned smartphone problem? Well, the trips from Off the Grid comes with a catch- no smartphones are allowed throughout the tour.
Upon arrival at the destination, a tour operator would provide you with a pouch in which you could store your smartphone. In return, you would receive what’s called a ‘dumb’ phone- one with which you could make calls and do pretty much nothing else.
The Off the Grid experience
The idea for Off the Grid was born from Beattie’s own experience with tech use. He also saw how his friends and colleagues frequently complained of how stressed out they were with work which demanded them to stay digitally connected at all times.
He likens the smartphone to a body part which you carry everywhere you go, and without which you feel as if a part of yourself has been cut off- a most unnatural state of affairs.
With Off the Grid, when you tour without a phone, you make more face to face connections, interacting with people in the real world, and experience things first hand, without having the impulse to take a selfie etc. that distance you from potentially memorable experiences.
As Beattie says, it’s a whole different experience when you are on foot and you need to ask people recommendations for eateries than looking it up on an app. During the tours, you would also get the chance for solo exploration, which could further enhance the overall experience.
As for the places on tour, the company has chosen destinations that are friendly and safe, where good amenities are available for tourists- whether they come with a smartphone on not.
At present, Off the Grid offers trips to Lisbon, Prague, Barcelona, Croatia, and Lima, with plans for more destinations to be added in the future.
As for Zach Beattie, he hopes those who go on the tours would look back and be able to say how they once went without a smartphone for a week, and nothing untoward happened because of it.
For those who feel stressed out by a perennially connected life, the tours may do more than that. Much more.