The Trick to Enjoying Vacations More

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Not to state the obvious, but my family travels pretty frequently.  I travel even more than my family as a whole.  I flew well over 125,000 miles last year alone, and this year hasn’t slowed down much from that pace.  While I go on a bunch of trips, I honestly don’t go on that many vacations.  I always feel so grateful to have the ability to travel and experience different places, but I’d be a big fat liar if I said I came back from most of this trips rested or more relaxed in the way many people think vacations should operate.  I don’t.

So why/how can someone who has the ability to go on so many trips to pretty great places feel like they never go on a vacation?  I don’t think there is any one specific answer, but I think there is one big contributing factor (hint: it’s not because of my four year old).  It’s the internet.

I clearly love the internet and what it has done for travel, but I think it has the power to turn a vacation into just a trip in a hurry.  Once upon a time work was over for most people when you left the office at night, and work and other responsibilities sure as heck didn’t follow you onto the plane and to the beach, mountains, or wherever you went in your free vacation time.  Now the internet, your work, your family, your friends, and more are all with you in your pocket or bag everywhere you go thanks to smartphones, laptops, and tablets.

What this has meant is that you aren’t really on a vacation, you are simply doing many of the things you always do in a different location.  You are on a trip.  Sometimes this is simply a necessity because it is truly a work trip, you need to keep tabs on your kids or family back home, etc. but I think it has reached a point for many (myself included) that it isn’t just emergent issues that are being handled on vacations, it is pretty much all the same stuff you would be doing on any other day.  I think that really takes much of the magic out of a vacation.

For me personally it is an especially tricky issue as my “job” is dependent on the internet, and there is no staff to cover things while I turn my “out of office” on and clock out for a week to hit the road.  Sure no one would die or even likely think twice if I disappeared for a week or so, but in my own mind I would be going bonkers having essentially a blank site for that long.  And let’s all laugh heartily at the idea of really being able to get ahead with a week’s worth of perfectly scheduled posts…that is a pipe dream in this mom’s world.  I’m sure that feeling translates to other professions as well.  Thus, the internet and everyday tasks are packed in my carry-on along with swimsuits, skis, and guide books.

I think that needs to change not just for my family, but for lots of families.  Vacations need to go back to being more of a vacation not just from your house, but from the 24/7 connectedness that so many of us have in our daily lives.  It is kind of like the trend of putting everyone’s phone in a basket at a dinner party so that people actually talk and connect instead of focusing down at their phone while posting pictures of the meal on Instagram or Facebook.  I think many of us need to put the phone and computer in the safe at the hotel and go out and explore without being so connected to everyone and everything back home.

If you must be connected to a degree on your vacation, then consider scheduling one period of time each day on the trip to check on the things you really need to check on via the internet.  Limit that time to what you absolutely need to do, and then turn the internet off and open your eyes to the amazing places you can discover.

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Zion National Park in winter

On that note, I’m going to try to put my own advice into practice some over the next couple of days while on a vacation with my daughter.  Apologies in advance if it is a tad dark around here, but I’m going to do a bit of an experiment to see if limiting connectedness on the internet will increase connectedness to a vacation.

Since I’m sure this is not an issue unique to my family, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Pingbacks

  1. […] Not to state the obvious, but my family travels pretty frequently.  I travel even more than my family as a whole.  I flew well over 125,000 miles last year alone, and this year hasn’t slowed down much from that pace.  While I go on a bunch of trips, I honestly don’t go on that many vacations.  I always feel so grateful to have the ability to travel and experience different places, but I’d be a big fat liar if I said I came back from most of this trips rested or more relaxed in the way many people think vacations should operate.  I don’t.So why/how can someone who has the ability to go on so many trips to pretty great places feel like they never go on a vacation'  I don’t think there is any one specific answer, but I think there is one big contributing factor (hint: it’s not because of my four year old).  It’s the internet. Read full article […]

Comments

  1. One of the main reasons we used to go on cruises was so that my husband would be forced to unplug from work! That’s not quite the case anymore since it’s getting easier to get service and internet on the boat- though still pretty expensive. But for the most part it’s great to be forced to step away from the distraction of those devices and really just relax for awhile.

  2. I sort of think taking “trips” to the extent that you do would be a grind and could take the magic out of the experience. With that said, it is your job so there are worse jobs. You have to find joy in the journey. Your daughter will find just as much awesomeness with you in a suburban Houston park as Paris if not more. I just took my kids to Paris, but when they left out the front door to walk to their school upon return they had just as much happiness and excitement as they ever have.

  3. My thought is that you’re out of this “business” in a year as the peak was reached a couple of years ago and you don’t see the trade off of family time to money being worth it anymore. Basically, credit card sign ups drying up

  4. I could’ve written this! So often when I return from a few days “off”, I don’t even feel like I’ve been out of the office.

  5. Excellent article. I’ve been screaming this “unplug” mentality for years. When I go on vacation, I’m generally unreachable. The only people that know how to contact me is close family; and only in dire emergencies.

    For MOST people, it really comes down to choice. My work knows not to bother me. I recently had one of my employees ask if they could call my cell if they needed. My answer was a resounding “no. Never.” I had a job one time where my boss asked me to take a company issued phone with me on my trip. I politely declined.

    Day to day activities can be taxing, and a vacation should be an opportunity to completely enjoy yourself, and where your family has your full attention.

  6. 125k is not that much. I travel for leisure mostly. I had 250k in last 4 years, and I plan to log over 300k this year… Over 80k this year alone.

  7. Unplug Summer…..enjoy your holiday with your family, especially while Little C is young. Time flies, and before you know it you’ll be saying “where did the time go?” Have a great time!

  8. The question you have to ask is “what will happen if you don’t check your email, or don’t post on your blog?”. The answer is almost always nothing

  9. Interesting piece. While on vacation, whether or not it is on the road or at home, I take joy at being able to be connected – time which I often don’t have in my day to day life. In my profession, I interact with high risk clients experiencing health challenges in their lives. While this work is rewarding, it is also very emotionally draining. Perhaps this is why I love being able to read the newspapers from home, catch up on emails or articles I wanted to read while having a coffee or two before setting out for the day while on vacation. Having said that, writing a blog is completely different work. I just wanted to give a different perspective to how being connected for some of us is actually relaxing.

  10. I often fondly remember the time before everybody had cell phones or even beepers (anybody remember those?). When you drove across the first state line you’d have the feeling of being away from it all and unreachable. Even more-so if you were flying.

    Indeed you were unreachable unless you had told somebody the hotels you were staying at or called in from the hotel phone.

    That was also when long distance was also really expensive. And I’m not 100 – “only” 59.

  11. I preach to most folks that they really need to “shut down” on vacation. It’s a healthy choice, one that gives folks the best chance to genuinely recharge their batteries. And I’ve never practiced it once for myself. I wish I was wired that way, but I’ve always preferred to keep in touch so I have less to catch up on when I get home.

  12. No need to apologize about the darkness at all, spending time with your daughter is #1. My girlfriend has a rule about our vacations, no laptops allowed.

    It was a bit stressful the first few times, but I slowly eased into it and now I actually find myself getting more work done in the lead up and after the trip because of it.

  13. I totally agree with your article. There is a time for everything and everything has it’s time. Vacation time should be to vacation; just as work (office) time should be to do work, period. This is easier said than done but it can be attained, trust me. Now when I leave the office for vacation, I leave it all behind until my return, when I have my batteries fully charged to deal with everything that I might find at work!

  14. Being a bit older – 64 – most of my travels have been of the disconnected type. As the world has become more connected, I haven’t let it run my vacation life. My rules for vacation are ” out of the country or on a ship ” so my husband will disconnect from his phone. Luckily his phone will not work overseas, and I won’t assist in getting him one that will. We have a very small family (mom and 1 brother only), so no need to keep much contact. Since we don’t blog, Facebook or Instagram, nor do we need to be reachable for work, we can disconnect. I’ve only just gotten a tablet (wifi only) so I dump excess personal email in the hotel at night. I want to experience and explore on vacation, not do the same thing I can do at home. Have fun in Paris with little C and enjoy it through her experience of a new world of wonder.

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