Alert People in Advance
Unplugging is difficult if you don't let friends, relatives and colleagues in on your plans. While they might not be able to reach you, it's possible you'll spend your whole family vacation worrying about those you've left hanging.
A week or two before your vacation, send out e-mails or text messages letting people know that you'll be out of touch. Make sure to provide the dates of your departure and arrival. And, in the case of work, refer people to a colleague or partner in case of an emergency.
Leave Most Devices at Home
You might want to take your cell phone on your family vacation in case you need it. Other devices, however, belong at home where you won't be tempted to use them.
There are a few exceptions. For example, I always take my laptop with me when I go out of town so I can process the photographs I take. However, I disable the Wi-Fi on the laptop so I'm not tempted to surf web sites or check e-mail.
Plan Full Days
There is always a way to reconnect, even on a family vacation with no electronic devices. To avoid falling victim to Internet cafés and free business centers in hotels, plan full days during your vacation. Set up an itinerary that leaves little or no downtime. That way, by the time you return to your hotel at night, you'll be too tired to seek an electronic fix.
The goal, of course, is to enjoy leisure activities so much that, by the second day of your vacation, you aren't even thinking about Twitter streams or Facebook updates. Allow yourself to become lost in each moment, to appreciate every experience without a cluttered or distracted mind.
Whenever I set a goal, whether it's to lose 10 pounds of flab or to improve my golf game, I always tell my wife. This creates accountability. Once I've informed her of my plans, I'm more likely to make every effort to reach whatever goal I've set. This works for unplugging during a family vacation, as well.
Tell your family members that you intend to completely unplug for the length of your vacation. They'll help keep you honest, and they'll make a bigger effort to keep your attention focused elsewhere.
Go Somewhere Remote
One of the easiest ways to unplug during a family vacation is to go somewhere that doesn't permit connectivity. Remote, rural locations often lack Internet -- and even cell phone -- service. This doesn't mean you should rule out a vacation to Miami or Los Angeles, but a remote location will certainly make things easier.
Make It a Family Event
You don't have to be the only unconnected person on your family vacation. In fact, you'll have more fun if the whole family participates.
Consider renting a hotel room that doesn't come equipped with a television. You'll be more likely to schedule activities outside the hotel, and the kids can start to appreciate life without Saturday morning cartoons.
Insist that all family members leave their high-tech gadgets at home. Not only will you enjoy a more fulfilling family vacation, but you'll eliminate the risk of losing those precious devices - or, worse, having them stolen.
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