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Lifestyle & Travel

Put that cell phone down! How to unplug when you’re on vacation

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After a cruel winter, it’s finally time for spring vacation. But if that means checking emails while you’re on the golf course or sneaking a peek at your Facebook and Twitter feeds while building sandcastles with your kids, then you may really need a digital time-out.

“Everyone needs an escape from electronics every once in a while,” says Elena McGill, founder of Childfree Travel. “Use your vacation to truly allow your mind to rest and recharge. You’ll soon realize that connecting with the place you’re in and people you’re with is much more rewarding than connecting to your smartphone or tablet.”

So how can type A personalities break their iPhone habits and their “e-ddictions” and not be tied 24/7 to their electronic devices while on vacation? Here are some tips:

Plan ahead: Tell your clients and co-workers way in advance when you are going to be away and that you will be out of touch. That way, unless it’s an emergency, they won’t plan a big event or announcement when you’re not around. Be sure to put an out-of-the-office message on your work phone with an emergency contact.

Set a clear plan for how you’ll connect when on vacation mode. If you must check in, put aside a specific time each day – maybe early in the morning or late at night -- when you will respond to emails and/or a scheduled time you’ll call in.

Separate work from play. To avoid constantly checking your phone for hotel and flight updates, move all your travel info out of your email and into an itinerary manager. The TripIt app monitors incoming emails for anything that looks like a travel confirmation and makes a master itinerary you can access on any device even when you are offline. 

Take lots of photos, but don’t post to social media until you return. Enjoy being in the moment. There will be plenty of time to post a collage of the best vacation moments when you return. Otherwise, you’re just going to make those stuck at home envious and alert potential thieves that you are away from home.

The ability to disconnect may take some work, but it will be worth it, says McGill. The pay-off:  “Being totally immersed in your vacation will be well-worth it for your mind, body and spirit.” So give yourself permission to enjoy your time off the grid. 

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