Modern life is stressful, isn’t it? The news is always depressing, we’re all glued to our phones and even when we travel we find ourselves scrolling through social media or checking emails. Sometimes you just want to fully disconnect from the modern world and focus on real-life experiences. Globalization has been a force for good, lifting millions of people out of poverty. But it does mean that even when you travel, it can be hard to escape modern pressures. Wi-Fi is (virtually) everywhere, and tourist hotspots are full of people taking selfies. But luckily for you, there are still a few places you can travel to and enjoy a full disconnect from the modern world. So here are our recommendations for the best off-the-beaten-track holidays you can take if you’d like to switch that mobile phone off and lock it in your suitcase.
Off-the-beaten track travel doesn’t get more extreme than travelling to the end of the world and being amongst the only human beings for hundreds of miles in any direction. Apart from a handful of dedicated scientists, that is. And surprise surprise, there’s no phone signal in Antarctica either. Not that you’d want to be on your phone anyway, when there are penguin rookeries to admire, humpback whales to spot and ancient ice shelves to explore.
Our expedition cruises to Antarctica depart from the southern Argentine city of Ushuaia and our ship has no Wi-Fi, so you can fully disconnect from the modern world whilst you explore the most remote corner of the planet. There are computers to use if you really need them, but it really doesn’t get more off the beaten track than this. Landing on remote islands such as South Georgia and the South Shetland Islands, and even making landfall on the Antarctic Peninsula, a trip to Antarctica is certainly one to brag about when you get back home.
Disconnect from the world with our 10-day Classic Antarctica expedition cruise.
Although growing in popularity, the vast landscapes and national parks of Botswana still attract just a fraction of the numbers of travellers that neighbouring countries like South Africa and Namibia pull in. This makes it a great off-the-beaten-track travel destination if you’re in search of a cheaper and less touristy safari.
Botswana isn’t a compromise when it comes to wildlife experiences either. Chobe National Park is home to four of the Big Five, including a thriving elephant population. And the Okavango Delta is one of the world’s largest wetlands, home to an indescribably rich variety of wildlife. And even within this off-the-beaten-track holiday destination, there are less visited areas such as the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan and the Selinda Concession, where you really can disconnect and focus on making memories.
See the highlights of Botswana with our 12-day Best of Botswana & Victoria Falls lodge safari.
In a similar way to Botswana, Laos is relatively neglected by tourists when compared to its neighbours Vietnam and Cambodia. This means that where these countries have become slightly “touristy” in places, Laos has so far retained its authentic charm. Vast pristine ecosystems dotted with caves, waterfalls and forests, and quaint towns and cities home to Buddhist temples, with very few other travellers around.
Vang Vieng and Vientiane see the majority of travellers to the country. But it is possible to get even further off-grid. Trekking in Luang Nam Tha is one great option for off-the-beaten-track holidays, as is Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area. Virtually unheard of by tourists, it is home to a rich array of wildlife. Species to live here include rare big cats such as the clouded leopard. The reserve is also possibly home to the last tigers in Laos, though the species is sadly presumed extinct.
Explore Laos for yourself with our 7-day tour of the country.
The tiny mountain kingdom of Bhutan is sandwiched between Tibet and India in the Himalayas – many keen travellers may even struggle to find it on the map! It’s a unique country, measuring the Gross National Happiness of its citizens and using this to inform policy rather than the financial metric of Gross Domestic Product. It’s also one of the only carbon-negative countries in the world, having preserved its great forests rather than exploiting them.
All of this makes Bhutan a great off-the-beaten-track travel destination. There are trekking opportunities aplenty, but with far fewer crowds than nearby Nepal attracts. Tiger’s Nest Monastery is one must-visit attraction, clinging as it does to the side of a cliff. And it’s worth pointing out that there are restrictions on travel to Bhutan. For example, you must book through a licensed tour operator. And it is expensive to travel here – all part of the country’s rigorous sustainability initiatives. But if you can make it work, you won’t regret a visit to this amazing country.
The remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard offers all the same off-the-beaten-track benefits as Antarctica, with a few crucial differences. It’s more accessible to European travellers, and penguins are replaced with polar bears. There is also some form of permanent civilization in the form of the town of Longyearbyen. This is a great place to see the Northern Lights and to disconnect from the rest of the world. Instead, you can head out to explore by husky sleigh or snowmobile, delve into ice caves or strike out with a pair of binoculars in search of polar bears.
Similarly to our Antarctica cruises, Wi-Fi is not available on the expedition ship we use in Svalbard. However, internet access via computer can be purchased for a small fee. And the phone signal in Svalbard is patchy at best – you’re best just to switch it off!
Our Wild Wonders of the Arctic expedition cruise takes in the best of Svalbard.
In an ever more connected world, there are still places to visit on off-the-beaten-track holidays where you can escape modern technology and switch off from it all. From the remote and wild polar north and south to the dense jungles of Southeast Asia and the pristine trekking territory of the Himalayas, where would you like to visit on an off-the-beaten-track holiday of your own?