Going Offline: Our Digital Detox Experience in Upstate New York

Dariece Swift author's bio Goats On The Road

Through the windows of the comfortable coach, we watched as the gridlock traffic and hustle of the big city slowly gave way to the vastness and calm of the countryside. Our prior night in the iconic New York City was both fascinating and exhausting at the same time. The idea of spending one day offline from our devices to reconnect with ourselves, each other, and new friends in one of the best US cities was something we were both very much looking forward to.

“Look at the colours of the trees!” This became a common sentence between Nick and I during our weekend away. You would think that we had never seen autumn by the way we were reacting to foliage, but even though we’re from Canada, we actually hadn’t been anywhere in the northern hemisphere to experience this season in a very long time – years in fact.

The hills were painted in red, orange and yellow, and with the brilliant blue sky, the colours really popped. This was the picture-perfect landscape, and the ideal destination for our one day digital detox retreat.

upstate new york fall

As we entered the Hudson Valley in Upstate New York, signs for “U-Pick Apples”, and tiny corner shops such as The Paint Store started to appear. With endless stretches of road, a couple of lights at the intersections, and just a handful of stop signs, we really felt like we were in the middle of nowhere, also known as Germantown, population: 2,000.

Built in the 1700’s, the Maple Grove Farmhouse was our home for the next two nights, while the The Red Rooster Barn and exquisite Route 66 Farmhouse was where all of us would meet for eating, dancing and mingling.

It really felt like we were at a summer camp for adults. The group of us who were invited to partake in this event (creators, bloggers and influencers) all bunked together in the farm-house, with the doors to our respective rooms tagged with our names. To our delight, at the end of our names was a perfectly placed little gold star. I think we were all feeling pretty special!

one day offline in new york
The farmhouse we were stayin at – the homemade apple cake was fabulous!

Although we were staying in the Maple Grove Farmhouse, the Red Rooster Barn was where all of the action happened, and it was the perfect venue.

This spot was handpicked by Mashable’s team, as were six storytellers from around the globe (Australia, Asia, Europe and North America), eleven influencers (travel bloggers, social media experts and video creators) and a large crew (producers, cameramen, editors, drivers, directors and event planners).

Everyone came together to take part in this unique event.

one day offline in upstate new york
Everyone who was involved in the production of the weekend – Amazing group!

Sponsored by Cathay Pacific and organized by the team at Mashable, this digital detox was all part of Cathay Pacific’s Life Well Travelled philosophy, which is all about not only having a comfortable journey, but to really enjoy your days on the ground in the new destination that you find yourself in.

When you travel well, you broaden the mind. Rather than tweeting, interact with someone. Instead of searching for restaurants on TripAdvisor, ask a local for their recommended spots. Forget about online maps, ask a resident. Be in the moment.

trekking in mongolia
Asking these nomadic Mongolians for directions during our 8 day trek.

Learning about culture and meeting the locals of the countries that we travel to is what Nick and I are all about, so this event really spoke to us. I had recently written an article about modern technology and whether it’s helping, or hindering travellers, so when Diana from Mashable contacted us with the invite to New York, it was as if the stars had aligned.

This trip was meant for us!

Put down the smart phone and interact with real people. Talk, don’t text. Look up instead of down. These are all things that we can implement to have a better travel experience, and we think that Cathay Pacific’s campaign is a very important one.

one day offline cathay pacific

After freshening up in our respective farmhouses, we all got together in the Red Rooster Barn, which was decorated with pretty little lights and lovely table settings. Although those details were perfection, they were overshadowed by the amazing sunset scene unfolding in front of us.

Over copious amounts of red wine and plates filled with roasted chicken, grilled skirt steak, smashed potatoes, roasted vegetables and pesto gnocchi, we all got to know each other and couldn’t believe that we still had a whole day ahead of us to enjoy our surroundings, followed by another night on the farm.

one day offline with cathay pacific bloggers
The bloggers / creators getting to know one another (2 more came the next day)

Our host and speaker for the event, Rachel Rudwall, gave a welcome speech and told us a little bit more about the campaign and the importance of leaving our gadgets at home the following morning. She introduced Lisa from Cathay Pacific who spoke much more about the company’s ideals the following day.

Before hearing Rachel talk, Nick and I thought that we would still bring our camera to photograph some of the things we would be doing, how could we not, our camera is practically a part of us!

But, Rachel’s words inspired us to think otherwise and the following morning, no one showed up with any electronics! Powerful stuff.

one day offline cathay pacific
The lovely Rachel and Lisa speaking to the group.

(Luckily there was an awesome camera crew with us, so we have some pics to show you guys 🙂 )

“The school bus will be here to pick you up at 7:30am” announced Diana, who we began to refer to as our Den Mother! We all laughed. Right, a school bus. You mean our coach with comfortable leather seating?

Nope, an actual yellow school bus, driven by Mike who was born and raised in the area, arrived to collect us all bright and early. We excitedly ran to the very back of the bus as we would have done in elementary school.

travel to upstate new york one day offline
All aboard…the school bus!

Our day without internet had officially begun.

It’s amazing what you can get up to when there’s no Facebook, SnapChat and YouTube, not to mention emails and websites to check (a significant part of life for bloggers & creators).

Our day was filled with fun games and relaxing activities. If you can believe it, here are some of the activities we did:

  • Yoga
  • Soccer
  • Bubbles and foam sword playing (yes, you read that correctly)
  • Bean bag toss
  • Volleyball
  • Croquet
  • Hula-Hoop
  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Horse Feeding
  • Picnicking
  • Apple Cider Making
  • Hay Riding
hudson new york
The perfect picnic spot!

One thing that really goes hand-in-hand with New York is apple picking and orchards! So, what better way to spend the afternoon than at an orchard with the most incredible estate home, overlooking the Hudson River?

We picked pesticide-free, organic apples, which tasted like an actual apple, rather than an altered fruit that you would find in the supermarket.

These were crunchy, juicy and sweet. We frolicked in the orchard (literally), Nick juggled apples, and we fed some to the beautiful horses.

picking apples in upstate new york
We’ve got a crate of apples!

To end off the day, we gathered again at barn for our last magical night together. We all found cowboy hats at our place settings and after a few drinks, we were more than ready and willing to learn how to square dance.

A live band joined us this evening and we were all taught the moves. Before long, we were swinging, docado’ing and hootin’ and a hollerin’! It was so much fun, especially watching people “duck for the oyster, dive for the clam” and singing along to “Old Dan Tucker”.

upstate new york one day offline
Cowboy hats! Hmm…what will we be doing tonight?

To cool off from all of the dancing, we headed outside into the chilly night air and wrote our thoughts and wishes onto a Chinese lantern, before setting them free into the universe. After a few failed attempts, mine finally took off and disappeared into the black sky.

Even though we lived in China for a year and have spent a lot of time in Asia, this was the first lantern we had ever released together. As we all said goodbye to our wishes, our attention was directed to the large bonfire that had been created while we were preoccupied.

one day offline upstate new york
Come on lantern! Fly!

I would’ve been happy to just congregate and chat around the warm fire, but to my delight, s’mores were passed out. A second round of dessert? Don’t mind if I do! From the toasty fire to the chilly school bus, we all made our way back to the farmhouse and promptly passed out after our memorable day.

upstate new york offline
A great way to end the day, and to warm up!

This trip will go down as one of the most extraordinary things that we have ever been a part of. Getting a group of strangers to come together and share in the same experience, while all getting along, isn’t an easy task. But somehow, this group of upbeat, positive human beings didn’t just get along, but forged friendships.

mashable cathay pacific one day offline
New friends!

This time away from the digital world really reiterated what we had both already been pondering – our need to spend more time away from our devices. We were reminded of our love for travel. Travelling together. Travelling with purpose. Travelling well.

Before leaving and heading back to Manhattan, we all gathered around, popped the corks off of the bottles of champagne and toasted to a wonderful weekend, this was the icing on the already sweet adventure.

offline in new york cathay pacific mashable
Whoo Hoo! Cheers to an epic weekend.

To learn more about this concept, follow #onedayoffline and check out www.onedayoffline.com.

What would you do with one day offline? Tell us in the comments below!

We were guests of Cathay Pacific and Mashable, however, as always, all thoughts and opinions remain our own, despite any complimentary services received. 

Going Offline- Our Digital Detox Experience in Upstate New York

Dariece Swift author's bio Goats On The Road

Written by

Dariece Swift

Dariece is a co-founder of Goats On The Road, and an expert in saving money, finance management, building an online business and of course... travel. She loves meeting new people, trying new cuisines, and learning about the unique cultures of our world. She has over 12 years of experience helping others to realize their travel dreams and has worked in numerous jobs all over the world to help pay for travel.

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48 thoughts on “Going Offline: Our Digital Detox Experience in Upstate New York”

  1. I’ve done a lot of camping in my life and there’s nothing better than sitting around a campfire with friends on a chilly evening. It sounds like many fond memories were made!

  2. This is such a lovely post and concept. The fact that you made a contact out of it too shows that we don’t always need to be online to network! The three weeks we spent in Cuba were pretty much WiFi free. I got through quite a few books!

  3. Awesome guys, i followed your journey online and I must say I was partially jealous 😉 I recently went to North Korea where phones or internet didn’t work and for 7 days I was completely disconnected it was refreshing and I am proud to say I did not miss them too much neither did I feel like I had to get onto social media. Hope you had a great day (looks like you did )

  4. ‘Talk, don’t text. Look up instead of down. ‘- this is so important and so easy to forget, especially in our lifestyles as bloggers where it can seem insane to be connected on everything from Facebook to Periscope all the time. Honestly, I don’t know how so many successful bloggers do it- it burns me out to be sharing and photographing every moment on my travels. Every year, I take at least one long trip where I don’t have access to the internet all the time so I can experience travel and connection like I used to before I became a blogger 😉

  5. Looks like you guys had an awesome experience offline in New York! It’s crazy how much time we spend on our computers and devices in this digital age. The best experiences seem to happen when we disconnect and interact with people in person. My smart phone is broken and I’m thinking of replacing it with an old school Nokia brick phone. Is that crazy?! I don’t know…it sounds kind of nice!

  6. A digital detox is definitely needed now and again. What a fun time you had and the company sounds wonderful. I love the idea of asking locals for information and think that we still do this when we travel, as opposed to looking up reviews. Lots of great information here.

  7. Living in Ghana I get my fair share of unwanted internet detox due to daily power cuts. To be honest, sometimes I don’t mind as I can do those things I never get round to otherwise, such as reading books and not wasting hours on Facebook.

  8. It’s really refreshing to be offline for quite sometime, we (bloggers) all know how important being online is, but sometimes there are so many things we miss out on offline. I really loved the idea of the event and I saw how genuinely happy you guys looked in the picture. Thanks for the share!

  9. As a blogger spending a lot of time online it’s so important to “detox” once in a while! I’m trying to do a detox day every week and I go to the gym, meet friends and remembering how life was before smartphones etc. 🙂

  10. I totally agree with the talk – no text. Whenever it’s not a press trip I’m on, I prefer to travel low key and not use social media all the time. I’d love to visit NY this time of the year, looks so pretty!

  11. I love New York in the Fall, so dreamy 🙂 looks like a really fun weekend and a great way to meet other people too. It’s really hard when you run a blog to unplug (I’m guilty as much as the next person!) but this is something I’d really like to do. The itinerary fun outdoorsy activities is right up my alley! 🙂

  12. Thanks for this post! I’ve recently come to realize too that offline is the next luxury! Life is so much simpler when you completely switch off, and it completely wipes away the stresses of the world you’re in. You’re in the moment more, and I’ve come to appreciate the extra time and the ability to connect with real people, because I feel like we don’t do that much anymore.

    Such a fabulous campaign – thanks for sharing 🙂 XX

  13. Super cool guys. You are looking awesome.
    I have done digotal detoxing few weeks and back and would love to do it again and again. In fact without this you actually cannt soak into the place.
    Once again, awesome blog post making NY look dreamy in Fall.

  14. Cuba was the best for being offline, wasn’t it?! The best, but also the worst – it became hard and kind of annoying to figure out travel plans without internet, but we made it through 🙂 Yes, we met some great people in NY, friends for sure 🙂

    Thanks for the comment!

  15. Thanks Mar!

    It was quite the trip. We met some incredible people and really enjoyed being in the countryside. Not having internet is hard for us for sure, but I don’t think we’re on our phones as much as some people are, what we found difficult was not taking photos!!

  16. Hi Natasha! I’m so happy to hear that you take time away for yourself! That’s fantastic. That’s what Nick and I have been talking about lately – what it was like before we were bloggers. Cuba was great for being offline, as was this recent trip to Upstate NY. We’ll be doing it more often for sure.

    Thanks for the comment.

  17. haha, we too have a Nokia!!

    I just think we need to all be aware of our digital addictions, and make time away from devices. Literally leave them at home when going to the shop, or out for dinner. We don’t always need to take a picture of the market, or of the meal we’re eating to share on Insta, you know?

    Weekend was an amazing reminder of that 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  18. Exactly. I think when we don’t have anything to do, we always turn to social media! Go outside and do something lol.

    Thanks for the comment – I’m sure power cuts can be annoying though!

  19. I’m pretty good at taking a day off from the internet if I’m working at my paying gig. I also just get tired of being connected all the time. When I’m traveling, depending on what I’m doing I may or may not take a full day off. But I always take some time off. It’s a conscious decision. Your trip looked beautiful. But where exactly in the Hudson vAlley were you?

  20. It looks like you had a great weekend. We usually turn off our technology when we travel in order to truly be in the moment. Sometimes I see people busy trying to document every moment that I wonder if they’ve really experienced anything.

  21. Shudder — I hate, hate, hate being offline for more than a few hours! I get why it’s important, but “what would I do with a day offline?” Shake in a corner and cry! Hehe.

  22. How fun is that!
    Hm. What would I do? What would I do? I think I would blink myself to PEI and walk the beaches, drive the country lanes, eat seafood and mingle with the locals. Hear their stories. Be and Islander By Choice for the day. Drink a Gahan Brewery ale. Eat a bowl of soup with Chef Michael Smith. Yeah. That sounds about right.

  23. Offline for a day? Hard to believe there was a time when we were always offline. I’d love the same experience you had in upstate NY. It’s a gorgeous area and to be able to enjoy it without social media concerns and with a great group of people would be such a bonus. Good message here to live in the moment. I’m going to step back from my computer now — at least for a few minutes.

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