So you’ve decided to take that trip that Thailand? Well, that’s a good first step considering that almost half of Americans don’t take any vacation. Anywhere. Ever. And the ones who do often spend far too much time staring at the screens of their various devices.
But how do you actually take a vacation, and not just relocate your office to a far-flung destination? How do you avoid the emails and the phone calls and the siren call of social media? Here is a step-by-step guide to successfully unplugging while you're away, and avoiding any sense of responsibility.
Be realistic. Decide how much time you actually need to spend on the internet to avoid getting fired or making your spouse a nervous wreck, then set a goal before you leave.
Make a bet. Need extra motivation? Bet dinner with your travel buddy. Pick a restaurant that’s way more expensive than you’re comfortable with, and whoever spends more time online has to pay. You can use moment to track your usage.
Force yourself off the grid: Scared that guilt will force you to take on a few hours of work while you’re away? Go somewhere with limited internet access. If you’re camping in the wilderness or staying in a Buddhist monastery in the Himalayas, there’s no way your boss is going to get ahold of you.
Stay active. If spending your holiday completely off the grid isn’t your thing, you can plan a trip that makes it easy to leave your phone in your room. There’s only so much time you can spend on technology when you’re surfing or skiing all day.
Stay active — Photo courtesy of istock/Chuckee
Work ahead: Answer all the emails that have been piling up in your inbox and personally let any important clients know you’ll be out of reach. A clear inbox will lead to a clear mind while you’re gone, and it will make your return less overwhelming.
Set expectations and a plan of action: It’s important to let your boss and coworkers know that you’re taking an actual vacation, which means you’ll have limited-to-no phone and internet access. Outline any projects that might require help while you’re gone and decide who will be responsible for covering for you should anything come up.
Write a proper away message. Set up an auto response on your email for a day before you leave and a day after you get back. Explain that you’ll be out of reach and offer an alternate person to contact – a person for whom you will gifting a bottle of the local wine when you return.
Send out a message to your social network letting them know that you’re sorry you’ll be missing their parties and ignoring their messages, but you’ll be too busy hanging with elephants. And tell them not to worry, that of course you'll post selfies when you return.
A proper away message — Photo courtesy of Brad Cohen
Pick a designated time to use Internet. If spending a week without checking email is going to make you too nervous to enjoy your vacation, choose a designated time and limit yourself to once per day. That way you can reassure yourself every morning that you still haven’t been fired, then spend the rest of the day carefree.
Log out. Airplane mode is the way to go, but if that’s too much for you, at least turn off your notifications and log out of your apps. You’ll be a lot less likely to fall down the social media rabbit hole if your phone screen isn't letting you know you’ve been tagged in eight photos, have 632 emails or that Beyonce just tweeted.
Plan ahead. There are plenty of amazing offline apps that will allow you to access virtually anything you need for a perfect vacation. Download maps, travel guides, playlists, and anything else you might want before you hit the road.
Any hobby will do — Photo courtesy of istock/Emma Innocenti
Have something to do in your downtime. Bring a book, playing cards or a pair of knitting needles, or take a daily class to keep you busy. You’re a lot more likely to stay off the internet if you have something to do.