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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.
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!