12 Secrets to Having a Truly Restful Vacation

Summer is here. Whether you're reading this in June and live in the northern hemisphere or in November in Australia and south America. You know what you've got ahead.

See "School Daze: Recapturing the Teacher within" for the
story of these photos of me and my son.
I'm an idiot when it comes to being goofy in the water.
It just feels so good to be outside and be free!
You do need rest. You need to veg out. There are so many things you can do. Let's look at some things that will improve your life and your mood. When I say technology, I really mean an always-on smartphone that texts and tweets and vibrates every time that some happens to hit send. I don't mean you can't take pictures. We're talking the barrage of people OUT THERE keeping you from paying attention to the people RIGHT HERE.

Disconnecting helps you feel more like a human BEING rather than a human DOING. It is ok to just BE.


new study shows that people who claim to be the best multitaskers AREN'T. So, if you think you can focus on all happening OUT THERE, you're lying to yourself. There is a company now to help you with your internet addiction. Even more so, your kids are likely at risk.

This was taken just the moment before I saw
a flash of light and bubbles. If you've done water sports
you know how fast it happens.
Don't be afraid to have fun because you're going to fall
if you're healthy.
Are you really UNABLE to disconnect? Is this a matrix where your spine is forever wired into this mesh of people and when you're done, you unplug and are thrown in the ground?

Take a technology-free vacation.

1. Set guidelines

If you have to check, then set a time when you won't be taking away from your family. What does disconnecting mean?

 I'll never forget the year I was in the mountains and I got a nasty tweet from an awful person. The attack was very personal, off base, and upsetting. I spent the day brooding and writing a response. 

No one can cross the fence of disconnectivity to ruin your peace of mind. You can't control THEM but you can control what you look at. You NEED To disconnect sometimes, YOU DO. What does it mean? Will you still take pics (I do?) Will you use your ereader?  Don't say technology free to your kids and take away their phones and bang away on your laptop. What does technology free look like.

Picture of a mushroom taken on a hike.
Vicki Davis
When we go to the mountains with my parents, sisters, kids, and nieces and nephews, we all check our email, etc.in the morning. Then we spend the rest of the day together.

2. Plan to go offline

I'll schedule my tweets in buffer and my blog posts as well. I'm often a better blogger when I'm out of town. This also helps others not worry and start trying to reach you because you disappeared! Communicate with those who need to know that you're going offline. 

Decide how often you're going to post and schedule those before you go out of town. My goal is that the moment I get in the car, I can curl up with a good book and start laughing at Dad's jokes.
Me and my son rafting down Little Wesser Falls.
Yahoo! I'm always scared but glad I do it.

3. Disconnect your eReader / Tablet from notifications

OK. This doesn't include a Kindle that is NOT connected to the internet. I have an old Kindle that allows me to download books.

The problem with my iPad is that if I don't turn off notifications, it will bug me all day. If your tablet is your ereader, then turn off the wi-fi. You need to read. You might not take paper books any more, especially with the prices for luggage on airplanes. Make provision to read, but be careful you're not interrupted.
Last summer all of us went ziplining. It was awesome. They don't
allow you to have cell phones on the zips for safety reasons.
They say you can't focus and you become a danger.
You're not focusing on the moment and what you're doing.
I think this applies to everything on vacation.

4. Take up Smartphones and cell phones for long periods of time

My pastor, Michael Catt, has a basket at the door of his summer vacation cabin where everyone deposits their cell phone. He pays to take his adult daughters and their families on the trip and makes it a condition of the trip. I agree.

Have you ever looked up from your laptop on vacation and seen everyone furiously texting people who aren't there? Your time as a family is your chance to connect. You can make memories. I promise that you won't remember ONE text you received or tweet you wrote. You will, however, remember going ziplining with the kids or rafting. You'll remember playing Uno or a board game. You'll remember snuggling up under blankets with a warm batch of brownies watching old episodes of The Pink Panther.

You'll remember sleeping late and staying up late. You'll remember catching fire flies and building bonfires. You'll remember when Joey sat on the flaming smore. You'll remember when Suzie ate a bug because she didn't look before grabbing a handful of raisinettes from the picnic basket. You'll even remember when the whole family started singing a crazy Pink song and you filmed it and put it on the family movie at Christmas.

When you unplug you make memories. When you stay plugged in, you just make data.

5. Take pictures but wait to upload them

I don't upload pictures until after a trip. First of all, so I don't worry about the security of my house. Secondly, so I can just be in  the moment. Thirdly, because as much as it hurts, if you put too many cool things on Facebook in a small town, people get jealous and it doesn't help you.

I know people who go to the beach every weekend and others resent it like crazy. If they just went and kept it private, NO ONE WOULD KNOW. Upload a few highlights when you're done. Plus, if you do something cool, then you start getting, TEXT MESSAGES.

This blog post is full of photographs I've taken with my Canon Rebel. It is offline, I can focus on what I'm seeing and I truly see it. I remember the snail and the mushroom and the flowers. Pictures are beautiful memories but beware lest they suck you back into an online world that will take you away from your vacation.

6. Carry a Journal

I use Evernote for everything. But it is a quick jump from Evernote journaling to Twitter for me. Typing is typing. So, I carry a journal to capture ideas (it is what writers do). I write down memories and thoughts. Then, when I get home, I scan them to evernote which handles handwriting recognition just fine. This includes pens and a small notebook in my pocket book and full size journal with at least 20 pages.

If I can avoid technology as much as possible, I'm happier. Plus, the bright light of technology can make it harder for you to go to sleep.

7. Investigate cool places

We collect "waterfalls" in my family.
We buy books about them and
go off weird places to find them.
There's something beautiful in the roar
and something calming in the shhhh
of water falling from rocks.
We use the same book every year and
mark them in the book. We take pics.
Think of something you like to
see and collect experiences.
I do use Yelp like crazy when we're traveling. I use the "nearby" feature to find cool restaurants nearby and bookstores. I love bookstores,even though I'm an ebook fanatic. I like the smell of books and the feel of them. Books are like air to me - they help me feel truly alive.

Some people check these out ahead of time and mark them on Foursquare.But be careful, it is an easy slide into full blown online engagement and offline disconnect. There have been times my kids have looked at each other and said, "Mom's gone again..." I don't like that! I'm here! I'll be here! Time is short because soon they'll be gone.

8. Go places off the grid

Do you really NEED wifi everywhere you go? I've found the best way to disconnect is to go somewhere with bad service. I always feel so much better by the second day and like a human again by the third.

9. Plan ahead to do fun things

We have older movies, board games and card games. We pack them. Sometimes the boys pack their airsoft guns or nerf guns (what a mess.) This is a great thing about going to one place each summer that is the same from the prior year. Routines often make memories.

Do you really look at the wildlife?
Kip stopped the car one year so I could
photograph these lovely flowers.
When you take pictures, you make a memory.

10. Leave your worries at home

I make a list of things that will bother me while I"m gone and do them before I go. If there is a bill to be paid, I pay it. If there is something upsetting me, I try to tackle it head on (unless it is something I have to think about.) I handle the pets. I'm not tempted, then, to make phone calls and interact too much with the outside world.

11. Plan to return to a clean house

Money is always tight but one thing I've always done is to schedule someone to clean my house while I'm gone. There is nothing nicer to come home to a clean house. Otherwise, you feel like you've got to come home and wear yourself out.

How does this help with technology? It means that when I come home, I can focus that first day on getting caught up. I don't have to panic as I drive home all upset knowing the house is a mess AND I haven't checked email.

12. Don't stress. Remember, you make the rules and this is YOUR vacation.

Stuff happens. It does. If it does, handle the problem. Get on the phone, use your laptop, etc. Talk to your family and then move on. Remember, though, that you are a gift you give your family. Unstress and be your best.

But stuff doesn't happen every day. If it does, why are you on vacation?

In Conclusion
This is your time. These precious people will not last forever. Twitter will likely live longer than some of the people you're with. If you want to live life with no regrets, intentionally walk away from things that tempt you to distraction.

Life life with intention. You can't be perfect but you can plan ahead. You can focus on the people around you instead of that cell phone that will put you in a digital jail if you let it.

Enjoy your vacation and yes, I want to see pics and I will be happy for you. (Unless you go to Alaska and if you do, I don't want to hear about it! ;-)

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