Vacation is a time when we are supposed to leave behind work and home responsibilities and have time free to enjoy our family and discover a new location. Yet in today’s society where connectivity is constant, it can be quite hard to actually get away. If you want to have a vacation that everyone will remember and get the most benefit out of your time away, consider taking an unplugged vacation. Does this sound impossible? It’s really easier than you might think, as long as you plan ahead. Here’s why an unplugged vacation is important and some tips on how to make it happen.
Remember the Purpose of Vacation
When you bring your technology with you on vacation, it’s easy to lose sight of the true purpose of your vacation. Remember, the reason you’re going on vacation is to get away, recharge your mind and soul so you can tackle your regular responsibilities with gusto when you return. If you bring work with you, you can’t do this.
Another purpose of vacation is quality time. You want to spend quality time with your partner, children or whomever you are vacationing with. Even if you’re vacationing alone, you want to spend quality time pursing leisure activities that you enjoy. Technology and work responsibilities make it difficult to truly connect and spend that quality time with those you love.
Understand the Benefits of Unplugging
Going on vacation without your technology at your fingertips does more than just improve the quality of your vacation. In fact, researchers have found a number of benefits of being “tech free.” Some of these include:
- Reduce stress
- Encourage creativity
- Improve concentration when you return to work
- Sharpen mental clarity
- Boost overall health
- Better the quality of your sleep
- Encourage a healthy work/life balance
If you have kids, the benefits extend to them as well. After the kids get used to the tech-free way of vacationing, you will notice:
- Better communication as a family
- Increased family bonding
- Enhance creativity and imagination
- Raise in physical activity
As you can see, a tech-free, unplugged vacation is good for you and your family. Not only will it help improve your health and strengthen your family bond, but it will also make you a better worker when you get back. This is a win-win scenario, both for your family and for your employer!
Decide What “Unplugged” Means
Unplugged can mean different things to different vacationers. While you may need to go cold turkey and leave all technology behind, you may find that this limits you too much. Perhaps you need to keep your phone handy for emergencies or need a laptop to book reservations and buy tickets to events and attractions. Maybe you want to reserve the option to play a game or watch a movie on the iPad after a particularly rigorous day of exploring. The key is to unplug to a level that works for you, while keeping your options open. Don’t rely on ethnology for entertainment and definitely avoid connecting for work, but consider bringing some if you need it.
Choose the Right Location for an Unplugged Trip
The location you choose can have a huge impact on how unplugged you are. If technology isn’t easily accessible, you’ll have an easier time unplugging.
For instance, if you go to a natural location, Wi-Fi and cell phone service will be limited. You’ll get caught up in hiking, canoeing, biking and otherwise enjoying the area, and not have time for checking email and social media. Without technology in your back pocket, you will be free to splash in the creek, take the longer trail and really see the natural wonders of your location. Since your technology connections are limited, you’ll find yourself connecting with those around you rather and the realities of nature.
A small, quiet town where people are often out and about in the community is another great choice. Even a large, popular tourist area can work, if you choose accommodations that don’t put technology at your fingertips. Remember, free Wi-Fi is not common in every location around the world, and you’ll likely pay data roaming fees if you travel far from home. Choosing a location that puts technology out of easy reach will ensure that you aren’t too tempted to plug back in.
Let Others Know
If friends, family and coworkers are used to having you at their beck-and-call, you’re going to need to let them know your plans. Tell those you are leaving behind that you’re taking an unplugged vacation, and those who need your contact information should know how to best reach you should they need to. Otherwise, give those at home the dates when you’ll be home, and make sure they clearly know that you’re unavailable until then.
To make it easier and to avoid communication problems, remember to set up an email auto-responder and a voice mail message letting people know that you’re gone and when you’ll be back. Determine who will fill your shoes at work if something urgent comes up when you are gone. Schedule a couple of times while you are gone that you will use to call in and check in with coworkers, but only if absolutely necessary.
Keep in Touch – on Paper!
One of the benefits of going tech-free on your vacation is the fact that you will rediscover some old-fashioned ways of doing things. If there are people you want to keep in touch with when you are gone, why not send a postcard? If you have kids, they will enjoy this throwback form of communication, and your friends and family will love getting some real mail for a change.
While it may seem like the ultimate challenge, an unplugged vacation is actually quite doable, as long as you plan for it. So as you plan for your next vacation, consider choosing a location that will make tech-free an easy possibility. You’ll return refreshed and full of memories that you are ready to share, and likely find yourself anxious for the next vacation opportunity.