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Disconnect to Reconnect: Our No Phones on Expedition Policy

This week we have been proud to announce our No Phones on Expedition Policy, starting the national conversation on the impact of mobile phones on travel experiences. As featured in The Telegraph, our new policy is a step of action to enable young people to have better adventure experiences, supporting their learning and ultimately their mental health.

We champion young people and the issues that are relevant and important to them, so we know that the conversation around youth mental health is one worth having.

Studies show excessive screen time can have a detrimental effect on mental health, particularly in young people. The constant influx of information, social media pressure, and digital noise can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy. This is recognised by young people, and in fact, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center (2023), 67% of young adults want to reduce their screen time and disconnect from digital devices during their leisure time.

This is why we have taken the step to stand by the power of the digital detox. With the wellbeing and safety of our Volunteers continuing to be paramount to us at Raleigh, we believe that a ‘No Phones on Project’ approach can provide everyone taking part in our Expeditions with a digital detox so they can focus what’s at the heart of an Expedition – self-discovery, mindfulness, and personal growth.

The benefits of a digital detox

Improved mental health

Young people report that constant connection to the online world and social media can affect their self-esteem, confidence and feelings of self-worth. By stepping back from an always-online culture, young people have the opportunity to experience nature, exploration and relationship-building without distraction, boosting their wellbeing.

Create real life bonds

The global pandemic created an isolated world, but Expedition offers an ideal platform to rekindle the magic of genuine human interaction. With phones put down, volunteers can fully engage in open dialogues, active listening, and cultural exchange, enabling them to develop essential communication and interpersonal skills that will serve them well into the future.

Discover yourself

The challenge of breaking free from the digital distractions, to become fully immersed in the richness of the present moment, is one that can reap high reward. Without the constant pull of social media notifications and digital noise, volunteers can savour each experience, engage more deeply with the communities work in, and discover their own inner strengths.

Empowering responsible decision-making

We understand the natural instinct of parents and guardians to stay connected with their young volunteers. It can be scary to feel disconnected! However, we see this period of detachment as an essential part of the learning experience, for parents AND volunteers. It nurtures independence in volunteers to make independent decisions, build resilience, and develop the skills needed to face uncertainty with confidence.

Exploring Drakensberg mountains South Africa

What our volunteers say

As our policy began to roll out on our Summer 2023 Expeditions, our volunteers experienced their Expeditions without their mobile phones. Of our summer volunteers:

63% of volunteers agreed or strongly agreed that being without their phone on Expedition improved their mental health.

74% of volunteers agreed or strongly agreed that they were happier without their phone on Expedition.

74% of volunteers agreed or strongly agreed that they enjoyed not having their phones on them.

61% strongly agreed or agreed that they are going to continue to take space away from their phones.

Read more about what our volunteers have to say about their No Phones Expedition

Volunteers trek in Costa Rica

Disconnect to reconnect

Raleigh Expedition was built on the premise that real-world learning and adventure builds the strength, power and resilience of young people. And this is what we remain dedicated to.

Our Expeditions take young people into incredible, and sometimes challenging, environments, where they not only learn more about themselves and the power of teamwork, but where they can contribute to projects that make tangible and meaningful difference where it counts.

It’s out in the real world, away from digital distractions and social media echo chambers, that we steadfastly believe that young people can find the purpose and direction that will carry them through their future lives.

Disconnect to reconnect on your Expedition in South Africa or Costa Rica. Find out more about our Expedition programmes and start your adventure with purpose in 2024.

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Consultation call

Whether you have a specific question or want to discuss which Expedition is right for you, schedule a call with a member of the team at a time convenient to you. 

Join an info event

On our monthly online info events, we’ll tell you all about Expedition. Have your questions answered, meet other volunteers and find out what Expedition is really like from an alumni.

Download a guide

Find out all about Raleigh International and Expedition in our helpful information guide.