It’s summer and nothing is more enticing while sitting at your office desk surrounded by folders, sticky-notes (yes, I still use sticky notes!) and a hundred open tabs on your computer than the thought of you sitting on the cottage dock at sunset with a glass of wine or beach-side with a margarita.
We all know that once vacation day 1 hits, seeing an email notification pop up on your smartphone while brewing your coffee and getting ready to hit the road, may automatically prompt you to hit ‘Read’ out of habit and curiosity (or cause some slight distress… or both), but we all know that vacation time means it’s time to UNPLUG. We all need an escape from our day-to-day, but one thing’s for certain, staying connected the right way matters a great deal. Unplugging while on vacation doesn’t necessarily mean unplugging completely, in fact, vacation time means connecting – with family, with friends, with FUN!
In reality, getting off-the-grid completely may be challenging. Figure out how to unplug the right way, which means figuring out how disconnected you can get appropriately from work-related check-in’s without having to actually work, and what tech devices and apps you can use and will be beneficial to use for your entire family.
Here are some tips to help you unplug but stay connected while on vacation:
1. Limit access to work-related accounts.
If you can, turn off your notifications and disconnect from certain accounts altogether (yes, seriously). If you still plan to share real-time fun of your vacation on social media – just keep your personal accounts open. If you plan to disable any work-related notifications on your phone and computer for the length of your vacation, here’s a tip: On a Mac or iOS device you can disable notifications on an app-by-app basis or by using do not disturb; Android users can turn off notifications for individual apps or download an app that lets them turn off notifications globally.
2. Get yourself in order before you go.
That margarita will not taste as refreshing if you’re busy gnawing at missed deadlines, important emails you forgot to answer or valuable packages that might be left on your doorstep for the wrong hands to snatch. Try to put in that extra work before you leave for vacation, and let people know you’ll be gone. In addition to setting your out-of-office notifications, provide the correct person that can be reached in your absence. For those packages or in case of any potential emergencies (like remembering you left your hair straightener on when you’re already at the airport or an hour into your road trip), leave a spare key to the house somewhere outside of the home and provide the location with a trusted neighbour or family/friend. Leave them your contact information and also get theirs.
3. Invest in good connected security devices.
I can’t begin to tell you how much I love my smart NEST devices. We recently went away on a one-week vacation and being able to see our front entrance with the Nest Cam Outdoor Security Camera and adjust our thermostat from our phones plus the Home/Away Assist option that automatically turns itself down when nobody’s home to help us save energy with the Nest Learning Thermostat 3rd Gen, was life-saving! I receive a lot of packages so it’s good to be able to keep an eye on them (and see when it was picked up for safe-keeping by our neighbour).
4. Don’t worry about what you should be doing.
In an Instagram and Snapchat-driven world, there’s this crazy notion that you should be filling your social feeds with pretty pictures of you climbing a mountain or swimming with dolphins or even just lounging beach-side with perfectly pedicured toe-nails. Here’s the thing: however you choose to spend your time off, make sure that it serves your interests and not the interest of others (and their viewing pleasures). I love sharing on Instagram (shameless plug: find me at @sheseespretty!) and my phone is very useful for snapping lots of photos but there needs to be a line drawn on how much and when to just stop and enjoy yourself with your family! Use your vacation to build healthy habits and spend time with people you love. Just focus on recovering from your everyday stress.
5. Bring Tech Devices — with limits.
The upside of bringing a laptop, tablet, or even a smartphone is watching movies on the plane or in a car and having fun apps and games to play. Apps are also super useful when in an unknown town (more on this below at #8!). This is great for passing the time to avoid boredom — but it’s a good idea to decide on the appropriate time and place for screen time.
We like to follow the inside/outside rule. We allow our kids to use tech only inside the cottage or hotel room on rainy days or only in the evening. Daytime is reserved for outside play, adventure, exploring, and family interaction.
6. Trust the process.
People often think, ‘My client is going to fire me if I don’t respond immediately to their request.’ or ‘If I don’t respond to this email, my boss is going to be extremely upset.’ In reality, you teach people how you will be treated. More often I find that clients respect your asserted desire to be unplugged. I’m sure they wouldn’t appreciate getting a slew of emails when they’re on vacay either. Just trust the process… and try to relax.
7. Bring games and fun toys.
Game nights are extra fun when you’re on vacation. Give your munchkins a fun alternative to spending time on the iPad with good old fashioned playing cards (Go Fish anyone?) and board games like The Game of Life, Clue or Pie Face. But who said iPad’s or smartphones aren’t useful for game nights? We enjoy an entertaining game of Heads Up! or Just Dance Now with our smartphones — find a list of iOS Family & Group Games here. We also ensure we stock up on fun toys like badminton or portable bean bag toss or water toys like inflatable water basketball and water guns and even kites for those windy days.
8. Act like a Local and Explore
One of my favorite parts of spending time in an unfamiliar territory is feeling like we live there! We usually choose to rent a house via Airbnb so we can really make ourselves at home, which is really helpful with kids that can get antsy in hotels. We buy groceries at the local markets, especially fun at summertime with the weekend farmers markets, and explore shops and restaurants. It’s amazing what hidden gems you’ll find. Plus, it’s a great way to connect with the community and meet new people too. I use the Yelp app a lot to guide me in finding local hot spots to visit, from restaurants to parks to antique shops.
Of course, since we are unfamiliar with the area, we also rely heavily on our google maps. Between these useful apps and video and photo taking, these long summer days can put a toll on our battery life. The is why ensuring our smartphones are adequately juiced up is essential. Keep all your devices 100 with a powerful and portable universal battery like the Mophie Powerstation XL. It also helps that I’m part of Telus’ large and fast network — they offer amazing coverage and fast, reliable service. Even in the remote areas of cottage country I found myself having no hard issues staying connected to help me navigate my way back.
When you find yourself instinctively reaching for your phone — and you will — be mindful of where the urge comes from. Are you unable to let go of work? Feel like you’re missing out on news headlines? Need a social media fix? Just observing your technology habits can be one of the greatest benefits of a (almost) tech-free vacation, and it can give you insight into broader life changes you’d like to make.
Also, pay attention to how it makes you feel to spend time with your partner or kids without tech devices. Once you experience the true connection that comes with undivided attention, it’s strong motivation to keep that going even after your vacation is over.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post as part of Team Telus. All opinions expressed are entirely those of the author.