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Tips for a Tech-lite Vacation

The following post is from Michelle of Mommy Misadventures

Gadgets like smart phones, tablets and laptops help keep us up to date with what’s happening all around the world. And for many families, summer vacation is a way of disconnecting from the world, just for a little bit, and reconnecting with who and what matters most. But when you take your gadgets on vacation with you, being so connected virtually can get in the way of really connecting with your loved ones.

So what can we do to prevent our the tech toys from taking away from what really matters?

An easy way to ensure a tech free (read: distraction free!) vacation is to leave your devices at home. The decision to leave a laptop or tablet at home is probably an easy one but the idea of leaving a smart phone at home can be a deal breaker for most. (I know that the idea of being without a phone in case of emergencies worries me a lot!) If you can give up the smartphone, but want a phone for emergencies, pick up a no contract, pay-as-you-go phone. You can purchase these just about anywhere for less than $30.

If the idea of going on vacation without your smartphone and other gadgets is unthinkable, but want to keep your technology use to a minimum while on vacation, here are a few helpful tips:

Identify Your Essentials

When packing for vacation, ask yourself: do you really need this? Consider what you want to do on vacation and what you really need to accomplish it. For the average family vacationer, a smart phone may be everything you need right in your pocket.

A few years back, my husband and I both packed our laptops, thinking they would come in handy to stay in touch with our friends while we were away. We ended up NOT using them at all! Talk about a waste of effort, plus tons of hassle while lugging them around the airport.

If you are lucky enough to own one, a tablet like iPad or an Android tablet like the ASUS Transformer Prime, are great choices for vacation computing. Tablets are far easier to carry and while they can perform a lot of the same functions that a full sized laptop can, they are usually less suited for tasks like composing long emails. This makes a tablet a convenient choice for staying in touch but still less tempting to take you away from your vacation.

Vacation Mode

source: Michelle Mista

Identify your biggest time sinks and limit your access to them.  Chances are that your most-used applications are right on your device’s home screen. For me, Facebook, Twitter and, of course, my email are my biggest temptation apps that I mindlessly check throughout the day. Email is a huge draw because I can get sucked in to answering email all day and totally forget that I’m supposed to be relaxing!

Try the “out of sight, out of mind” approach by placing your time sink apps into a folder and then moving the folder way out of the way. Put your devices on “vacation mode” as soon as you arrive at your destination to reduce the temptation to spend more time on your device than relaxing or spending time with your family.

In the example above, I’ve moved my usual folders to the very last home screen available, leaving only the essentials available. This way, I don’t see the apps that I know would distract me. Nothing has been deleted but all my apps are still safely on the last home screen, so I can get to them later if I need to.

Lock It Up

If just having your devices around is a huge temptation to play online than spend time with your family, put them away. Like, really out of the way. If your hotel offers a safe deposit box or a safe to store your valuables, consider locking up any devices that you may have taken with you. Alternatively, try sticking them some place safe but inconvenient to get to, like on the top of a tall wardrobe in your room or in the very back of a drawer. (Just don’t forget to retrieve them before you leave!)  This way, you have your devices on site should the need arise but are less tempted to spend time on them “just because” you can.

Do you bring your gadgets on vacation with you? What are your biggest concerns? What are some of your ideas for going tech-lite on vacation?

Michelle Mista is an IT professional, writer and blogger with a love for all kinds of technology. She writes about tech tips and trends for work at home professionals on her portfolio blog and muses about motherhood at Mommy Misadventures. She is on the constant quest to balance life, work and geekery.