Vacations are best enjoyed when you can take a break from the buzz of your day-to-day life. That means saying no to checking emails, making phone calls, and worrying about what happened at the meeting while you were away. It isn’t always easy to unplug, because let’s face it, most people are glued to their digital devices, whether it’s a laptop, tablet, or in most cases, a phone. But it’s important to disconnect, especially when you’re in vacation mode and want to sink into the moment and enjoy whatever your time off has to offer.
Before leaving for vacation, there are a few micro changes you should make so you can ensure your downtime is interruption-free. Let people in your professional and personal life know you’re on vacation and will likely not answer texts, emails, or phone calls. (Even better: Turn off your personal and social media notifications.) It’s also a good idea to have an automatic vacation reply go to anyone who may try to contact you. If you’re still tempted to take a look at your phone, uninstall certain apps and leave your work laptop behind, if you have one. You can always easily reinstall these apps when you return home.
That said, these micro changes might not be quite enough and they may not be possible for everyone. Some people may not be able to completely unplug, especially if you’re a small business owner or someone who needs to keep communication open to maintain your position or income. Worry not: There is still a way to protect your vacation mode without worrying about what you may be potentially missing at work and home.
The one thing you should always do to unplug while on vacation is keep your electronic devices behind in your hotel room while enjoying your new locale. If you want to immerse yourself in the local sights and sounds, leaving your phone in your room will push you to enjoy the present. There isn’t the distraction of checking your device as you’re observing nature, walking through a museum, or relaxing on the beach. Gone are the buzzes and pings and the need to check your phone while enjoying lunch or dinner with family or friends.
I’ve tried this experiment. On a recent vacation, I made a vow to leave my phone behind in the hotel room and I realized how much more I noticed as I was sightseeing. My mind wasn’t split in two, with half of my attention dedicated to the notifications on my phone and the other half barely listening to the tour guide explain the historical significance of a particular landmark. It was liberating to fully immerse myself in what was in front of me instead of constantly looking up and down at a device to keep checking insignificant notifications.
When it came time to take pictures, since I was traveling with good friends, I asked them to take over photography duties since I didn’t have my phone. This was also an interesting exercise, since it pushed me to appreciate what was in front of me instead of trying to take a picture and then spending the next 20 minutes finding the right filter to post it on Instagram. I could spend the entire day engaging in my environment, being present with my friends, and fully inhabiting my vacation experience.
When I returned to my hotel room, I checked my phone, and made certain I didn’t spend more than 10 minutes browsing it. The irony? I didn’t miss a single thing when I unplugged. Everything was right with the world. And I gained a full distraction-free day of simply appreciating my vacation.
This piece is part of Go Slow Month, where we’re celebrating taking your time, taking a deep breath, and taking a step back from it all. From deliberate design ideas to tips for truly embracing rest, head over here to see it all.