“Like a lot of people, I’m too attached to my phone. If I’m in transit or away from my desk, I’m texting and emailing. I have my own company, so people expect 24/7 access; switching is always going to be hard – but I make a real effort to do it, for quality time with my husband and my eight-year-old daughter. I can go a full week without a phone or social media, and do; it just takes an enormous amount of advance preparation.
The place I go to shut down and reflect is Montenegro. When I am surrounded by beautiful nature and the Adriatic, I don’t want to be in communication – not with work emails, not with Instagram. I am there to be in that moment, with my family. And I want to make sure my daughter has a real sense of her Serbian roots.
My parents have a little house in Ada Bojana, in southern Montenegro where the sea merges with the river. It has always been a very, very hippy, rustic part of the country. There’s even a nude beach – it adds to the laidback atmosphere. They bought the land to escape the bustle of city life, and it’s still very untouched. It’s in a dense forest, so is cool and shady. We use it as our base for exploring the surrounding mountain villages, beaches and the many bays. I read; I eat in all of the little local restaurants that I grew up with. But mostly I love to just spend time with my parents; the undivided attention makes them especially happy.
With only my camera, we’ll drive to Skader Lake, which is an ideal spot to rent a boat. There are beautiful lilies that line the shore, and also unusual bird species. The place, the whole experience, is very meditative.
For friends looking for a detox – digital or otherwise – I often recommend Aman Sveti Stefan, set in a 15th-century fishing village overlooking the Adriatic Sea. It is very understated and one of Montenegro’s real treasures. From here you can sail or hike in Lovcen National Park. It’s the perfect place to detach and decompress.
Many of the towns in Montenegro are high in the mountains, where the soil is better for farming. I visited a remote village last summer – it was a steep 45-minute walk up, and totally off the grid – and met a wonderful granny who still lives there despite the village being almost abandoned. She offered us coffee at the end of our hike, a traditional welcome in this country; and I loved hearing her stories. I didn’t have a phone with me, so I was totally focused on the moment – really able to absorb the setting and the being back to basics with zero distractions.
I’ve had to teach myself to unplug over the years. Like anyone running their own business, I am reliant on the people I hire, and it has taken a lot of practice to convince myself things won’t fall apart when I’m away and offline. Returning to the office is a different story; there is never an easing back in, it’s full-on back to work. But I feel refreshed and ready for it. And usually I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything.”