I’m making the official call. Social Media is ubiquitous.
If you don’t know what that means, it means that everywhere you turn, social media is there. On TV, in magazines, on the sides of buses, at work, at your kid’s soccer game, and in the bathroom stall next to you. Because we are becoming an “always on” society and are never more than 3 steps from our mobile devices and computers, social is invading everything we do.
Case in point…try taking a vacation from social media. It’s nearly impossible. Trust me, I tried. I recently took a family vacation to Hawaii and it seemed like I was tempted at every turn to check my accounts, look up something on the Web, play a game on my mobile device, or search for a local restaurant or venue.
Believe me, it’s difficult to resist the temptation to check your Facebook feed, especially when you have your phone out to search Google Maps for the closest coffee shop. Just a peek….who posted what? Who pinned what? Is that article that someone tweeted worth checking out? It’s tempting, and I’m not saying I succeeded. In fact, I kinda failed which is what prompted me to write down my tips for taking a vacation from social media, both for myself and anyone else that might benefit.
So, here we go:
1) Turn off the email sync to your phone – If you’re like me, you get bombarded with emails from different social networks. By turning off the sync, you turn your phone back into a phone. Trust me, you can live without email for a week. It IS possible. If someone needs you, they have your phone number.
2) Set an out of office notification – Because you turned off your email, let people know they shouldn’t expect a response until after your vacation. Give them an alternate person to contact for business. If you feel comfortable that they won’t abuse it, provide your mobile number for emergencies. Personally…I don’t.
3) Tell your closest friends and family that you’re going off-the-grid – Sometimes my friends and family send me messages via Facebook, expecting that to be a formal channel of communication. So, set the expectation that if they want you, to call you.
4) Try to avoid using your phone, except for emergencies – Our smartphones have become tools in managing our vacations. We use them for online boarding passes, restaurant locators, maps/directions to popular tourist destinations, and leveraging the phone for GPS. They’re great tools, but keep in mind that every time you pull your phone out of your purse or pocket, you’re going to be tempted to check email, Facebook, or Twitter. Resist the temptation.
5) Bring your camera – For a while, I was resisting the temptation to bring my digital camera on vacation, because I had my phone. It was easier to snap a shot with my phone and then upload it to Facebook to share with my friends and family. By bringing my digital camera, I get a lot more photos at significantly higher quality, and I avoid the social media temptation.
6) Wait to upload your photos until after your vacation – I know it’s tempting to share that photo of a beautiful beach with your co-workers who are back home suffering through 20 degree weather and snowstorms. Not only will it keep your cube from being trashed while you’re out, it will help avoid the temptation to tweet or post the photos.
7) Buy a guidebook featuring popular restaurants, tourist destinations, maps, and travel tips – I know it seems old-fashioned, but having a physical book will help keep you off Google Maps, Yelp, Foursquare, and Urban Spoon. By using the book, you’ll get back to the basics of traveling, relying less on GPS and mobile technology. Trust me, it sounds scary, but it can be a really good thing.
8 ) Ask the locals – Want to find the best places to eat and visit? Stop relying on user reviews on the Web and mobile applications and ask the locals. It’s amazing some of the great out-of-the-way places you can find just by asking the barista at a local coffee shop.
9) Plan before you go – Do your research on the Web before you get to your vacation destination. While I’m all good with minimizing the impact to the environment and printing out only what you need, by printing out information about places you’d like to visit and taking those with you on vacation, you can minimize the need to use your phone for directions, resisting the temptation to check your social channels.
10) Finally…my best piece of advice. Bring a couple good books – Yes, books. Actual, physical, paper books. Not eBooks, not PDFs loaded onto your iPad or tablet. By bringing physical books, you won’t be tempted to switch over to Facebook after finishing a chapter on your iPad or tablet. While I love reading on my mobile device, I am really glad I brought physical books on my most recent vacation. Sand can be blown out of a book, not somuch from the ports on a mobile device.
One other note that I think everyone should be aware of. DON’T announce that you are on vacation to all of your social networks. There’s nothing like announcing that you are away from your home to alert would-be thieves to come rob your house. Keep it to yourself and those of your friends or family that need to know.
I hope these are helpful to anyone preparing for an upcoming vacation. If you have experiences, suggestions, or tips on how to take a vacation from your social channels, feel free to add to the list by submitting a comment!