I went on my first river rafting trip when I was 11 and I’m 44 now.  My husband and I were excited to join another family and raft the Main Salmon River in Idaho with our two children ages 10 and 13 this summer. 

I can confirm that the best parts of a river trip haven’t changed: the scenery, the excitement of being on the river, the camaraderie between the guides and the guests and, of course, the camp cooking. You watch your kids jump off rocks, go kayaking for the first time or take a turn rowing an oar boat. You spot river otters swimming and bears walking alongside the river. You spend hours at night staring at the night sky, seeing the Milky Way and millions of stars. 

You spend time talking to one another and your guides, telling stories about the river, things they’ve seen and people they’ve met.  

With all that said, you know what the best part of the trip was?  

It was the opportunity to fully disconnect from our phones.There is no cell service or WiFi on the Main Salmon River. None. It’s a beautiful thing. 

We know that technology can be helpful and entertaining in our daily lives, but the opportunity to disconnect is as valuable or more these days.

For most of us, finding a space without technology is rare. WIFI is everywhere, even on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro now. 

Why we loved being screen-free on the river:

  1. There’s no option to use a cell phone since there’s no service. The impulse to check in with family, friends or work fades after a day or two. You focus on the present and engage those around you.
  2. The average adult spends 5-6 hours on a cell phone each day. You get this time back when you are on the river without a cell phone. Conversations linger and meaningful connections are made. 
  3. We feel present with each other and our children, not distracted by our phones and pulled in multiple directions.
  4. We appreciate the sunshine, fresh air and exercise. Mind and body are connected, the mind is not distracted and the body is active while on the river.
  5. There’s more head space for thinking, brainstorming and creative ideas flow more easily.
  6. Bonus for parents! The kids don’t ask for screen time when it’s not even an option.

Our kids spent their time making new friends, exploring, swimming, setting up their camp each night and jumping off the rafts with the guides into the river.  I loved seeing my kids not worrying about what was happening on their devices, but instead creating, playing and interacting with everyone at camp.  

It was an amazing few days and we are grateful that wild places still exist to explore.  As Starlink and other satellite companies start to provide internet service in remote places, we hope that there will always be opportunities for a less-is-more approach to technology for our family.

We are going to try to take this feeling back with us and try not to be distracted by our phone and technology at home. But, as life gets busy, and we are starting to stare at our devices instead of interacting with one another, we know what to do to bring us back!