Growing up, taking a summer vacation was easy. We simply packed our suitcases, loaded them into the trunk of our 1967 Plymouth Barracuda and drove to up-state New York; first to visit my mom’s parents for a few days in Rochester and then later in the week to visit my dad’s parents at their summer place on Canandaigua Lake. My grandparents’ place on Canandaigua Lake was the absolute best. Here my cousins and I were totally cut-off from the outside world. We never had a TV or a radio here and although we did have a phone, it almost never rang and when it did, nine times out of ten it was a wrong number. No, here we were in our own world, a world filled with old canoes, tin boats, long hikes, hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill and bonfires on the beach at night. It was quite frankly, perfect.
Back in the “olden days,” there were no such thing as minivans and as a result, people traveled lighter and left most of their… excuse me, “crap” at home. Yes we were cramped in the back seat of our small car and yes I probably missed my bike that I couldn’t bring with me but somehow, when all was said and done, our summer vacations were always relaxed and filled with lots of laughs and good times.
Today it’s different. For one thing, we no longer go to the same spot each summer but instead bop around from place to place looking for new adventures and places to explore. There’s nothing really wrong with this but there’s a lot more moving around when you go this route which makes for a more stressful, less relaxing vacation. In fact, often is the case that we need a vacation just to recover from the vacation. The real difference however between then and now, comes down to technology. It’s simply darn near impossible to get unplugged! This is an unfortunate reality because there are still so many great places to visit that are still 100% natural and where “being connected” adds nothing to the overall experience. So I ask the question, is it still possible to take an old-fashioned summer vacation and simply sail away, electronics free?
I am the ultimate optimist so of course the answer to this question is yes. But, it’s not easy to go cold turkey and disconnect and if your spouse is also addicted to always being hard-wired, they need to play along or you’ll never stop and smell the roses again until you’re dead. So, here’s a few tips I found on how to unplug and get the most out of your next summer vacation:
1. Let people you work with know what to expect: It’s not that people will really believe you when you tell them that you won’t have access to your e-mail while you’re away but at least you’ve given them the heads up so when you don’t respond right away, they’ll know why.
2. Control your smart phone: Like anything in life you have a choice, you can either be controlled or you can take control. Your phone has an off button. Your best bet for taking control of your phone and your vacation is to use that button and turn off the phone and go for a bike ride. If you can’t bring yourself to turn off the phone completely, at least silence the alerts so you’re not beeped, buzzed and vibrated to death. I personally hate alerts. It always makes me feel as though someone is constantly tapping me on the shoulder saying “excuse me, excuse me, I have something to tell you.” Ugh, what kind of vacation is that?
3. Avoid checking your e-mail: Most of your e-mail is junk anyway but of course you don’t know that until you check. I figure that if someone really needs me they’ll do one of three things, they’ll text me, call me, or in the case of a family emergency, they’ll call or text my wife. Bottom line is that most of the e-mails you receive will wait until you return to the office, especially if you were smart enough to leave an automatic “out-of-office” reply message. A word of advice, don’t check your e-mail it’s not worth it!
4. Carry a second phone: I have some friends that simply carry two phones, one for business and one for personal use. I don’t do this but I am leaning in this direction. I kind of like the thought of a clear separation between work and home. Yes, carrying two phones is a pain but it also gives you more flexibility to unplug from work now and again.
5. Don’t bring additional electronics for the kids: I did this last summer when I went sailing in the Apostle Islands and boy was that a mistake! I actually thought that my kids (10, 8 and 6) would get bored and ruin my vacation if they didn’t have videos and electronic games to entertain them. I somehow forgot that kids will find entertainment wherever they go; they’ll swim, pick rocks, hunt for crabs and if all else fails will terrorize one another until something better comes along. Do yourself a big favor and don’t forget to unplug before leaving the dock.
Life is too short to sit at the dock as we are fond of saying at Jeanneau but guess what, summers are even shorter. So the next time you hit the road and are headed out the driveway in your minivan all loaded to the gunwales, be sure to control your smart phone and leave the rest of the electronics behind. In the end, you’ll be happy you did.
On we go….