Gini Dietrich

Does Vacation Mean No Access to the Outside World?

By: Gini Dietrich | July 6, 2009 | 

Above the clouds at 14,000 feet

My friend Amber Naslund went on vacation last week (the first in more than a year and very well deserved) and, as she left, she wrote a blog post about how vacation can be digital, too. Read the post here.

As most of you know, I hiked Pike’s Peak on Saturday. It’s the second time I’ve hiked it, and before Saturday I remembered it as being the hardest thing I’d ever done (granted, the first hike was before I’d run three marathons, cycled numerous centuries, and been active enough to ride 250-300 miles every week). Regardless, it was important to me to chronicle the climb for my friends and family and I did that by taking pictures with my BlackBerry and updating Facebook. Can you imagine if I’d had to take a camera bigger than my phone, downloaded the photos, then updated Facebook or Flickr? Talk about a time suck while on vacation!

Then, as Erin and I were driving back to Denver from Colorado Springs, I got the Steve McNair news via Twitter. Because I don’t watch a lot of television as it is (let alone on vacation), I probably wouldn’t have heard about that until today had I cut myself off from my BlackBerry.

My point is, like Amber’s, going without my BlackBerry (even on vacation) means I’m truly cut off from the world. I’m writing a book and all of my notes are on my laptop. I’m providing case studies and content for a couple of other books and all of my pages are on my laptop. I’m reading a few books to provide quotes for the back covers. Those are all on my laptop. I use social networks for both business and pleasure, and have access to Twitter and Facebook on my BlackBerry.

I’ve learned that if I create an out of office reply that sets expectations on the business stuff, itallows me to still use technology on the personal side.  I agree, Amber, vacation can be digital too.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • At our house, we tend to use technology too much. We sometimes resort to it when we’re bored–especially the kids–not that we’re bored very often. But even as a guy who makes his living in the space, I think we as a society have over-stimmed on technology the last few years, often at the expense of good social skills. So when we go on vacation, we try as a family leave our connection to the internet turned off. We still take pictures, and our kids CANNOT let go of their phones. But we don’t web surf at all, and phone service is often spotty. We read the paper, watch movies on rainy days, and basically de-tox from the world that drives us the rest of the time.

    Once we get back, we plug it all back in and share, but we relish the distance for a few days a year.

  • Shouldn’t it be up to the vacationer to decide whether they want to abandon the technology or not? Or better yet, whoever they are going with?

    I think most people would agree that its nice to be away from actual work while on vacation, but if you are someone who likes to post the photos (as we all know Gini is) or just get a feel for whats happening in the world that you are temporarily checked out of, why not have that.

    I actually like to be more or less completely out of touch if its a real vacation. But the last one I took, to Mexico, had a computer with a slow internet connection so we could at least hop on once a day, communicate with the world and then go back to our deliciously made margaritas and books.

  • Obviously it is an individual choice. For me, since I have friends and family scattered all over the world, I love to stay connected up when I am on vacation. Instead of grabbing a postcard and scribbling “Wish you were here!” on it I can simply snap a picture and instantly send it. I love that!

  • Such timing. My family and I leave this Friday for a 2 week vacation in Europe. It is my desire to unplug completely. While I find my online connections via email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. to be enlightening and certainly expansive, I also find them to be time consuming and in certain ways distracting from my present moment. My husband will not unplug while vacationing so I suppose I have assurance that if something really “big” happens, he will let me know about it. And the rest? Well, while I am drinking wine in a small cafe in the South of France, or playing on the beach with my son in Italy, I don’t think the rest will matter all that much, one way or another.

  • It sounds like we all pretty much agree. Indra, when I went to Italy last year, the only time I used technology was to update our blog. The rest of the time I was drinking wine and eating cheese. Have so much fun!!

  • As business owners, we do have a responsibility to have a back-up plan in case our staff or clients need us. For me, it’s not a true “vacation” unless I’m without technology, with the exception of some type of news source – even the resort’s one-page newsletter in broken English will do. Of course the return to reality always puts me back on the same or greater stress level I was before I left. Most importantly, please tell me you have all your computer notes backed up and/or printed for your files!

  • I had planned a technology-infused vacation for the 4th of July – I’d be marooned on a farm with only my laptop and guitar, and plenty of time for productivity. As it turned out, I couldn’t connect to the net from the farm, so all of the documents, to-do lists, and lead sheets I store in the cloud weren’t available to me – not to mention social networks.

    It was a plus and a minus. On the plus side, I experienced the farm and my friends more. I made fresh pasta and read agriculture books. On the minus side, I couldn’t do much writing or editing without my reference materials.

    Halfway through the vacation a 30-minute window of internet opened, and it was terrific – I focused on the most important replies to make and materials to download. In effect, I had to pack my digital life as well as I had packed my tiny suitcase.

    I think that’s what most digitally-enhanced vacations are missing. We deliberate over outfits and shoes, but we bring out entire online existence with us just because it’s not heavy or unwieldy. Well, guess what, it is. And, as with our wardrobes, it pays to pack both lightly and thoughfully.

  • Ken

    I unplug totally, when I’m on vacation. The only technology is rely on is my digital camera to enjoy nature and photography.

  • Personally, I find that if I bring my technology (iphone or laptop) with me on vacation then it is difficult to disconnect. Just mentally, I am always thinking about sharing this moment with someone that needs to see the pics or sending an update to someone that isn’t there or responding to some need that really can wait. If there is something going on that needs my checking in every day, I’ll stop by an internet cafe. Or bring my laptop, but limit myself to once a day. Because I really am hooked to my iphone and my laptop. And it’s the only way for me to keep balanced.

  • I personally like to be connected wherever I am and I’m so glad we’ve gone beyond the payphone as state of the art technology to accomplish this.

    Of course, connecting on vacation or not is a personal choice and I wonder if a good part has to do with stress – if you receive an email and your blood pressure goes up when you open it, perhaps that’s a sign that you might be better off unplugged.

  • I was recently in Costa Rica with my family and truly loved being off the grid. It took a day or two to get used to being without technology, but I once I did, it was the most relaxing vacation I have had in a while.

    I’m sure Costa Rica had something to do with that as well.

  • Brian Conrey

    I like the way krisis closed the previous comment – “thoughtfully.”

    I’m reminded of a trip I took with the family a couple years ago. I had given plenty of notice to my boss, make sure my staff was prepared to take care of things in my absence, and brought my laptop along to keep an eye on things from a distance. We landed at the airport, drove a couple hours to the resort, got unpacked, and (having missed a day in the office) I opened the laptop to ‘check in.’ One of the gems in my email was an inflammatory message from my boss regarding my absence, yet I hadn’t even been gone a day. It put me in a rotten mood, and although I was able to recover within a few hours, I wasn’t ‘present’ to be with my family during the start of our family vacation.

    I usually take a multi-day backpacking trip each year that requires me to leave technology behind. I know there will be a ton of stuff waiting for my return, so it becomes that much more important to thoughtfully embrace my offline time.

    Having said all that, I’m almost always connected. I use my Blackberry to keep on top of things, but I rarely look when I’m sitting at home, and never when I’m at the park with the kids. Opening the laptop when I get home from work isn’t an instinctive thing, it’s a purposeful one.

    I approach my technology use during vacation the same way. I deliberately choose when I will and won’t use technology, and am clear for myself about why I’m doing so. If I stray from the purpose, I stop using it. The purpose of a vacation, after all, is to take a break from the office. If I’m just going to work the whole time, I can stay home, save a bunch of money, and accomplish the same result.

  • Arment Dietrich

    I’m quite partial to the analogy Krisis uses – just like you’re thoughtful about what you pack for vacation, be thoughtful about the type of work you take with you.

    I also like what Brian says about using technology, to check in with work, purposefully. I agree with Martin…if something sets me off in an email and I can’t ignore it (I’m a fixer), I probably shouldn’t be checking it while I’m out.

    But for those of you who think because I’m on Facebook, blogging, or tweeting that I’m working, that’s not necessarily the case. Usually my vacation time is when I can really think about strategies so it’s fun for me, not work.

  • I forgot to log out – that “Arment Dietrich” was actually me!