I recently returned from a 10-day family trip to China which had been in the works for a very long time. (Observations from the trip and the growing Chinese economy are in another blog article.)
As part of this trip, I decided to go unplugged. In fact, I didn't even take my smartphone. Between the four of us, only one of my daughters had phone service in case of a true emergency. We also had two good cameras and an iPad to take photos.
I usually like to keep up with my email when on vacation. I've learned over the years that I'd prefer staying in the know rather than: being stressed about what I don't know, and coming back to over a thousand emails - which immediately reverts me to pre-trip stress levels! But this was a big trip, we were on opposite time zones and we had a packed schedule.
It took me half the trip to finally stop thinking that I was missing something - my phone.
As hectic as China is with all of the people and dynamism, I am drawn to the timelessness of China's history. I felt that there was just something wrong about visiting The Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors while poring through my email & stressing over things I could do nothing about. I wanted to immerse myself in what I was seeing and observing - not worry about things back home. Just as importantly, I have a good team working for me. I trusted that they would take care of things as well as possible in my absence.
So, disconnected I was. We went with a tour and most of group was unplugged as well. There were a few folks that would FaceTime or speak with family back home. Especially for parents who could not take all of their children, knowing that all was well back home was a stress reliever.
I'm glad I made this decision. One of the features of meditation that appeals to me is that goal of being fully present - impossible with a smartphone in your hand. Rather than being half there, I was fully immersed in the sites we visited and the activities in which we participated. It took me half the trip to finally stop thinking that I was missing something - my phone. I got used to it after a few days & felt very refreshed on this trip. Our schedule was hectic, so I was physically tired with so much activity but felt mentally refreshed.
The first day back home was not fun. Absorbing almost two weeks of email in one day is pretty overwhelming. But I made the right choice & will definitely seek opportunities to unplug in the future.
This Fast Company article includes some good advice and tips on unplugged vacations.
How about your summer trip? Can you stay unplugged?
- The role of "unplugging" today (unchartedequilibrium.wordpress.com)
- I'm on the cover of Fast Company for my #unplug feature (baratunde.com)
- Vacationers are Unplugging; As Summer Vacation Season Kicks Off, ARDA Finds People are Not Taking Work with Them (prweb.com)