This year's World Travel Market (WTM) Global Trends Report predicts several new travel trends for the year to come, including digital detox holidays, which are being offered by an increasing number of hotels around the world.
Needless to say that there is a growing penetration - or intrusion as some might put it - of digital devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops. According to a recent TripAdvisor survey, two thirds of Britons have been on holiday with someone who has point-blank refused to switch off their mobile phone. In the United States, Google's 'Our Mobile Planet' survey reveals that 80% of smartphone users do not leave home without their device.
As a result, a number of us have become hopelessly addicted to technology. A Post Office survey published in 2008 reported that a whopping 13 million Britons suffered from 'nomophobia', or no mobile phobia. Going on holiday? The experience barely exists until the photos go up on Facebook for all to see.
"Being connected to the internet is now seen as an extension of ourselves; especially on holiday. And leaving a phone or computer from which you can access the internet behind, is just unthinkable", explains young British professional Carla Owens, while on holiday in the Algarve. We have become slaves to our digital devices, to social media and our habits have gone far beyond just sharing. Saying that we have become completely obsessed with documenting and recording our lives at every turn - be it sharing a photo of an attempt at cooking a new pasta dish or that one has caught a cold - would be an understatement.
As we learn early on in science class, where there's an action, there is always a reaction, and with the technology overload we are experiencing, hoteliers have found that there is a demand for complete isolation away from the internet. They have therefore used this as another way of boosting their sales. Digital Detox holidays will soon be widely available, with some hotels even proofing a separate bar to prevent any WiFi waves getting through. Hotel Monaco in Chicago, which offers a 'tranquility suite', or the Quincy in Washington DC, with its 'be unplugged' package, as well as the Lifehouse Country Spa Resort in the UK, which offers a 'BlackBerry creche', are a few budding examples on the market at the moment.
As great an endeavour it may be to try and save the world's nomophobes by forcing them to take some time out from the constant connectivity, this only points to a sad reality; nomphobia is a more serious condition than anticipated. People are unable to simply push that off button by themselves and checking themselves into a 'digital rehab' for a week isn't really a solution that is viable in the long-term.
So far, the term 'nomophobia' has been thrown around loosely to get a laugh from audiences, when what it actually serves to underline, is that many of us now go to great lengths just to take a break and there is something seriously wrong with this picture.