3 Reasons to Put Your Phone Away on Vacation

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Originally posted October 2016

Stephan and I recently returned from our first “real” vacation in four years. Almost one solid week of getting away from it all, and enjoying several beautiful locations. Time to unplug, unwind, and enjoy conversations with each other.

Little did we know that from this vacation, we’d gain a completely new perspective on what it really means to “unplug.”

Our first stop was Disney’s Magic Kingdom. If you’ve ever been there, you know that there is a ton to do. It is one of our absolute favorite places to visit.

In true millennial fashion, I’ll admit that I can never totally “unplug” from my phone, especially at Disney World. There are so many photo ops and unique social media check-in locations. With that being said, Stephan and I are by no means glued to our phones. We’re firm believers that if you are paying to be on vacation, BE on vacation. Be present, soak in your surroundings, and make memories.

To our surprise, everywhere we looked, people were immersed in their smart phones. I could go on for hours about the almost impossible to believe things we saw. This continued to be the theme even after we moved on to the other locations on our trip. People couldn’t pull themselves away from the digital world to be part of the real world.

I want to clarify my tone for a moment. The last thing I want is for this post to sound judgmental. I’m writing this for the purpose of drawing attention to an epidemic in our culture that is robbing us of the moments of joy around us. This is especially true when going on vacation with family and friends. Vacations (and even mini getaways) with those we care most about are precious times that are fleeting and rare. As I can confirm from first-hand experience on this trip, your smart phone will still be there if you turn it off for a day.

If you are going on vacation (or any other mini trip), consider for a moment these three reasons to put your phone away:

1. Be present: Even though waiting in line to board a ride at an amusement park may seem like a good time to play a game on your phone, or scroll through social media feeds to pass the time, you are missing all of the sights and sounds around you. We saw this happen more times than we could begin to count on our vacation. By not being fully present in your surroundings, you are missing out on making memories and taking in the experience in full. Get comfortable with the idea of not having to fill every moment with something to do. You will feel a lot more alive, rejuvenated, and connected to others.

2. Restore your health: Vacations are a time meant for de-stressing and hitting the “re-set” button on your health. This is one of the rare times you have permission to get lost in a new book, take a three hour nap, go to an extra long yoga class, spend an entire evening at the pool, or do any other leisurely activity you want to do. You cheat yourself out of the real health benefits activities like these provide when you’re checking your phone. Prioritize your health while on vacation by letting go of the need to stay connected to your phone.

3. Show those you’re with that you care: Of any point I could make on the subject, this is the most important. Spending time on your phone instead of engaging in conversation with your family and friends shows them that they are less important. No matter what your intentions are, you are communicating to those around you that you care more about your latest status update, your work email inbox, and so on. When you turn off your phone and talk with those on vacation with you, you will feel much more connected with them. You’ll find that your conversations become more meaningful when you give your full attention to those you care most about.