How to Take an Unplugged Vacation

Your family rented a beach house for the week. It’s a beautiful, comfortable house just 100 yards from the ocean, where you’re currently watching your family swim and lounge without a care in the world. You’re inside on your laptop catching up on emails.

Why is it so hard to simply unplug for a week, or even a couple days? We all struggle with letting go. We carry mini-computers in our pockets at all times. WiFi is everywhere.

Now more than ever, if you want to take a truly unplugged vacation, it needs to be intentional. You need to commit to it.

It Used to Be Easier

There was a time before cell phones when people left their house for the day and didn’t feel the pressure to return missed calls until they were home again. That was normal. It’s pretty hard to imagine in the world of smartphones, isn’t it?

Similarly, you used to be able to take a vacation that only required leaving the resort’s phone number with your in-laws in case they needed to reach you. Going camping? You were off the hook entirely.

If that sounds idyllic, you need to find a way to turn back the calendar a few decades. You need to unplug, rejuvenate, and find out what it means to let go of work and bills and all the other responsibilities of life.

Here’s how.

Step 1: Communicate

We’re all immersed in a world of constant communication. We rarely give it a second thought to just pick up our phones, fire off a text or a phone call and expect an immediate answer.

If you want an unplugged vacation without friends and coworkers blowing up your phone, the key is, ironically enough, more communication. You need to let everyone know your plans and your intentions.

Don’t think of “don’t call me” as a rude attitude to have. People will understand, especially if you explain the circumstances: You want to get away, and you’d rather not be bothered by anything short of a real emergency.

Advocate for yourself. Let people know where you’re going, what you’re doing, and that there’s no reason to contact you unless it’s urgent.

Step 2: Automate

Preparation is often an essential part of a good vacation. You book your flights and your hotel. You develop a plan for the sights you want to see and the places you want to eat. You want to be prepared to take advantage of the time you have.

Your preparation for an unplugged vacation should also include automating your life so things can continue on while you’re gone. Stop your mail delivery if you’re leaving for more than a couple days. Craft an “out of office” automatic email reply for all your accounts. If you don’t plan on answering your phone much, change your voicemail greeting to let people know you’ll be out of touch for a while.

Things will run smoothly while you’re off the grid as long as you prepare and automate ahead of time.

Step 3: Delegate

Regardless of what you do for work, it’s a good bet you often feel like you can’t get away from your duties and responsibilities. There’s always work to be done. Who’s going to do it if you aren’t there?

In many cases, it should be up to a supervisor to delegate your work to someone else, but you may be self-employed, run your own business, or serve in a managerial role. In these scenarios, it can be overwhelming to know someone else is picking up the slack while you’re on vacation. It can be tempting to always check in on the work.

If you really want an unplugged vacation, you need to sharpen your delegation skills. Automate what you can and pass the rest off. If you’re worried about the job not being done correctly, spend a little extra time training another person to handle your responsibilities.

In a more general sense, “delegating” can also mean just asking friends and family to look after your pets or take the garbage can to the curb on trash night. Whatever that looks like in your world, the point is this: To unplug and enjoy a worry free vacation, you need to feel like the world won’t crumble if you’re away for a few days.

Step 4: Dedicate

You’ve made up your mind. You’re taking seven days to camp and hike at Yellowstone. Cell phone for emergencies only. No computer. No work.

A vacation like that can be a scary proposition. You’re removing the safety net that is your normal routine and the modern conveniences that come with it. Even if something comes up at work, you’re leaving yourself in a position to not have the means to handle it.

That’s good.

In order to really unplug and get away, you need to commit. Like anything else (losing weight, training for a half marathon, etc.), you can’t be wishy-washy. You know what you want, and the only way to get it is to dedicate yourself to your plan.

Getting away isn’t easy, but it’s often essential to your mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. If you follow these steps, your next unplugged holiday can be your best yet.

Last modified on September 7th, 2023 at 1:19 pm

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