Invariably, after an airplane has descended, as it’s shuttling across the tarmac to the gate, you’ll hear the cabin fill with a chorus of beeps and chimes – smart phones coming back to life after their brief respite in the off position or on “airplane mode.” This scene plays out all across the globe, hundreds of times a day, and it’s only one example of the remarkably connected world that we live in today. It’s great to be able to stay connected with the outside world while you’re traveling. You have the peace of mind that, were an emergency to come up, you have an open channel to contact whoever you might need to. You can access your bank and email accounts, keep up with friends and family, and even catch up on work without ever having to touch a PC. All of that is fantastic news for the frequent traveler, but a host of problems can arise as a result of the constant use of social media, from “tech neck” to depression.
The world has become incredibly interconnected. There is internet access and cell service nearly anywhere you might dream of going. So, unless you plan to travel only to remote destinations from here on out, you might find yourself succumbing to the temptation to check your phone every two minutes, perhaps missing out on the fun of your trip. A vacation should be a time to relax. Think of it as something of a “reset.” The quickest way to diminish the refreshing effects of travel is to stay stuck to your smart phone. So how do you walk that thin line between staying connected and staying over-connected? The first step is consciously making that distinction and becoming cognizant of how much time you’re logging on the phone.
Social media is one quick way to pull your attention away from the sights you should be seeing. Sure, it’s great to snap a quick picture and post it out for your friends to see, but you might find yourself 20 minutes in, staring despondently at your screen as you scroll through status updates and your vacation passes you by. A good start to stopping the attention drift is to set aside specific blocks of time to upload pictures and check social media. You can use your phone to take pictures as you go along, but wait until you’re settled in for the night to post them all and catch up on how your friends and family have spent their days.
Work is another of the cardinal offenders when it comes to vacation distractions. The nature of the digital age in which we live is that business and commerce are now conducted globally on a 24/7 schedule. This mean that, often, you’ll receive emails or calls from coworkers on a trip. “It’ll just take a moment to respond,” you say to yourself. When you look up next, you’ve spent an hour reading messages and tying up loose ends. The fix for this issue requires a little preparation. Before you set out on your travels, let your colleagues know. Make sure to give anyone who may wish to contact you guidelines. For instance, ask them to send you an email and warn them that you will be looking at your email at specific times of the day. If possible, designate another person in your office to serve as your proxy. Impose the same sanctions on your work email that you might on your social media accounts and set aside specific time to catch up on work.
All-in-all, it doesn’t have to be a huge hassle to find the appropriate balance between staying connected and getting away from it all. Make sure you set clear boundaries – both with yourself and your friends and coworkers – about when and for how long you’ll be reaching out. If you find you have to disable notifications or set your smart phone to vibrate, then do so and get on with enjoying your vacation. You might find it such an enjoyable experience that you carry some of these habits into your everyday life – which may just help us stave off the societal decline of the attention span. It’s quite possible to lose yourself in the constant flow of information that’s now available in the palm of your hand, so make sure that you make an effort not to give into the temptation to let your mind wander. You’ll find that you return from your trip refreshed, relaxed, and ready to connect once more if you make the effort to unplug long enough to enjoy your vacation.
What better way to relax than to go on a home exchange vacation? You can relax on in a exclusive property with all the amenities of home, while also immersing yourself in a local culture. Choose from luxury homes on the beach, in the mountains, on golf courses and many more…..
Thank you to travel writer Emma Sledge.