Activity Spotlight – An Unplugged Experiment

This week’s Activity Spotlight is written by our Assistant Innkeeper, Virginia Magill.

If you browse our website, you may come across our About Us page, which reads in part:

Our beautiful remote location is surrounded by half a dozen state and national forests, which provides us with some absolutely amazing hiking. It also means we’re one of the few places left where cell phones, television and internet service aren’t all pervasive.

The disconnected nature of our location provides an ideal opportunity to enjoy some quality time with your family and friends, free of electronic interruptions.

Vacation unplugged. You’ll be glad you did!

Being unplugged is almost unheard of in our current age, where technology has pushed its way into every crook and crevice of our lives. How many times have you gone to a restaurant, looked around, and saw at least one group with everyone staring at their phones rather than interacting with the people around them?

A normal day for many begins with grabbing their phone, located right beside the bed, before they even roll over. After all, you can only properly start the day after checking your social media to make sure you didn’t miss anything while you slept; the weather so you know what to expect for the day and the news so you can stay up to date on current events. And don’t forget to check your Fitbit app so you can see how well you slept – because obviously, you won’t know unless the little device on your arm confirms it for you!

I myself am guilty of starting many mornings like this, and to be quite honest, it can be exhausting. Before we even get our feet on the floor, our brains have already processed as much information as a more unplugged person’s may in an entire day. Pair this with the statistic that says that people check their cell phones on average every 6.5 minutes throughout the day, and it is no wonder that by the time we come home in the evening to crash on the couch (in front of a screen) our brains feel like mush. And often everyone in the family has their face buried in their own screen, even if they are all sitting in the same room.

Here at Ravenwood Castle, we invite you to leave behind the craziness of this day-to-day grind and really connect with the people that you love. While the unplugged experience that we offer can at first sound insane (I can’t tell you how many times at check in I see the panic in people’s eyes as they realize we don’t have great cell phone or WiFi service – sometimes they even start twitching a little) there really is great value in putting down the electronics and spending time with your friends and family. It is truly an experience that will leave you more relaxed and grounded.

To better understand this feeling of finding yourself disconnected, I recently decided to spend my day off entirely unplugged. I won’t lie – it was hard! I found myself reaching for my phone more often than I would like to admit, but by the end of the day I was feeling calmer and more relaxed than I had in months. The following narrative will take you through my technology free journey.

8:47 am – Woke up. Out of habit, reached for my phone, then remembered I was unplugged today. Put it back down. Repeated about 4 to 5 times.

8:50 am – Stared into my closet. I reached for my phone again to check the weather. Unlocked my screen, relocked it, and looked out the window. Repeated 3 times. Finally chose clothes based on what I saw outside.

9:00 am – Made it downstairs. Took care of my dogs and cat, made myself and my husband breakfast. Sat down to eat and habitually reached for the TV remote. Set it back down and opened the window and enjoyed the view while we ate instead, and then talked for a while just enjoying each other’s company until he had to begin to prepare for his day.

10:00 am – Did yoga routine from a magazine instead of my usual YouTube video… after starting up the computer out of habit, and then shutting it back off.

11:00 am – Reached for my phone again to check the weather. Put it down and walked outside instead. It was one of the only warm days that we have had so far this year, and the sun was plentiful so I decided to just sit outside in the grass and let the dogs wander around in the yard. I lost track of time because it was just really enjoyable to sit in the warmth and do nothing, except read a magazine.

1:00 pm – Realized it is almost time for my husband to head to work, so I went inside and helped him pack his lunch. As soon as he leaves, I go back outside for the rest of the day.

6:00 pm – Went inside, made myself dinner and didn’t even have the urge to turn on the TV. Instead, I opened the curtains again and enjoyed my meal in peace and quiet. Then I cleaned up the kitchen and the rest of the house because I was feeling so energized.

8:00 pm – Snuggled down with the dogs and read a book until my husband came home.

The morning was hard, and I REALLY struggled with not using any technology. The urge to continually pick up my phone didn’t break until about noon, but once it did it was incredibly liberating. It is also a different kind of “relaxing” to be sitting outside in the sun, scrolling through Facebook than it is to sit and enjoy the peace and let my mind wander on its own without it being directed somewhere.

I know that it is different to do this kind of experiment at home versus on vacation in a place you aren’t familiar with, so I’ve put together some tips to help you prepare for your unplugged getaway without the panic and anxiety of finding yourself unplugged.

  • Print out or get a paper copy of a map and find your route. GPS can be a bit spotty in our rural area.
  • Fill up your gas tank before you leave the highway! Remember, GPS can be a bit spotty and may not be available to help you find the nearest gas station.
  • For planning things to do ahead of time, check out ExploreHockingHills.com. They are a great resource for area events, activities, dining, etc.
  • When you are at the castle, ask questions! We are here to help, whether it be with checking the weather forecast, printing directions, or recommending a great place to eat.
  • We have a rack within our office filled with information that you can pick up and keep. We like to call it the “Sights and Sounds of Hocking Hills.” It has area travel guides, brochures, and rack cards from businesses all across our region. This includes contact information, and if you need to ask questions or call ahead, you can use our guest phone near the front door to do so.
  • Prepare anyone who may need to contact you by letting them know you may not be reachable by cell phone. Feel free to give them our office phone number (740-596-2606), we’ll be glad to relay any messages. You are also more than welcome to use our guest phone and leave that number with people as well, although it is not generally monitored.

Breaking the ties to technology can be an intimidating endeavor, but with some preparation it can also be one of the most relaxing vacations you could have!

If you are looking for ways to reconnect to yourself and your loved ones, vacation unplugged.

You’ll be glad you did!


Jim Reed

Jim Reed

Jim Reed is a lifelong gamer who started with the original red box Dungeons & Dragons. After spending 20 years in the corporate world, he decided it was high time that work be fun and struck out on his own. Jim now owns and operates Ravenwood Castle and The Malted Meeple, and spends his days ensuring his guests have as much fun as he does.