How To Actually Unplug When You're On Vacation

Burnout? A broken heart? Boredom? The cure for all your worries and maladies lies in one word: vacation. Not only does a vacation give you a diversion from the hustle and bustle of daily life, but it also has a way of helping you come back to the daily grind with an optimistic mind. In 2014 Gallup study, those who took regular trips were found to have higher wellbeing scores than less frequent travelers. Those earning less than $24,000 per year and taking regular vacations had a better wellbeing score of 66.3, compared to an average score of 55.1 for those earning $120,000 per year but not having time for regular vacations. 

Besides, the increasing appreciation for the importance of mental health also contributes to a growing interest in vacationing. Per a 2022 Allianz poll cited in a press release published by PR Newswire, 74% of the U.S. population agrees that a vacation per year is important, a significant spike from 60% in 2019. 

However, disconnecting while vacationing isn't always easy in this digital age where we can work from our phones or laptops. Keeping our fingers on the pulse and dealing with correspondence that hits our radar might be a sign of efficiency, but it defeats the purpose of a vacation. To make the most of your vacation, we need to completely unplug and unwind. Here's how we can go about it.

Plan ahead and factor in your work schedule

If you don't want to talk to your clients while on a road trip or respond to emergencies as you're cruising across the Atlantic Ocean, you need a clear plan. According to Harvard Business Review, before going on a vacation, reflect on the minimum connectivity accepted at your job, make a list of reasons for screen time while on vacation, decide on which work-related accounts you can disconnect from when you're away, and discuss with your fellow travelers about the acceptable amount of screen time during the trip.

Also, don't forget to factor in your work responsibilities and the projects in the pipeline before requesting time off, per Calendar. In case there's a scheduling conflict, you should ask your colleagues in advance if they are willing to help. If possible, opt to leave at a time when you and your team are not snowed under with deadlines and assignments. Knowing what awaits you on the work front, and making suitable adjustments, will give you some peace of mind while vacationing. Before leaving, don't forget to set up an auto-responder message on your work account to let your correspondents know that you won't be able to go through all the messages sent to you while you're away, and include a contact to whom the correspondent can address their concerns in your absence.

Turn off notifications and ditch social media

When it feels tempting to check in with your colleagues and respond to emails on vacation, remind yourself of every reason not to do so. "Checking in and being online while you're supposed to be on vacation may actually cause more confusion with your team," warns LinkedIn career expert Blair Heitmann (via Yahoo Finance). The reason being is you already made arrangements with your colleagues prior to your trip so they should be able to move your work along without your direct involvement. To fight off the temptation to check into work, Dr. Michelle Bengtson recommends turning off all notifications on your electronic devices so you won't be distracted by them.

Another distraction you should avoid while on vacation is social media. With all the exciting activities and Insta-worthy photos you've captured during your journey, it's tempting to share them with your social media friends and followers. However, keep in mind that a vacation is a time for reconnecting with your inner self, and being caught up with social media won't allow you to be focused on being present, per Mumpack Travel. You can enjoy your screen time after you return, or right before bedtime when it doesn't interfere with your daily activities. During day time, sign up for cultural activities, engage with local communities, and broaden your horizon. When you keep yourself busy with real life excitement, you won't have much time for social media scrolling.