10 Ways to Vacation from Social Media and Technology

Merci and Bonjour: Plugging Back into Networks After Unplugging in Paris

Thanks to those of you who checked in over the past week and wondered “Where in the world is Barbara?” Paris was the answer.

That’s me with Pan in Jardins et Palais du Luxembourg. I’ll have more stories about my trip later, but for now on re-entry day, I’d like to share these ten ways to unplug from social media and technology with you.

Please share your unplugged experiences with us in the comment box. Merci beaucoups!

Here’s my story. . .

I just opened my computer for the first time in over a week. The settings and the open files capture where I was the moment I closed it, slid my Macbook Pro into its case and ran out the door to fly off to Paris on a romantic holiday.

This morning I closed the files I left open that mentioned Hemingway and Julia Child sites in Paris, a refreshed media list, a final press release and a few files with no names, but possible headlines.

All of that work is finished. And now it’s up to me to choose where to start. It’s not a new journey, but a fresh branch on a 20 year old path that returns me to a place I chose to leave deliberately, yet thoughtfully, to focus all [or most] of my attention on experiencing Paris with my husband.

On a walk through the Prairie Path before I left, I planned a series of posts to go up while I was gone. Several possibilities popped into my mind: a retrospective series, a best of, guest authors – each concept could entertain, inform and keep my relationships warm. But, who would respond to comments?

In the end and with time running out, I decided to post a quick message on twitter and Facebook. All emails received a vacation response. A vacation response told callers I was out. After I go through re-entry, I’ll post my thoughts on how that went. But for now, here are 10 thoughts/learnings about being unplugged.

10 Ways to Unplug from Social Media and Technology

1. Decide how much your network to know about where you are. I was vague about where I was. Do you want people to be able to find you in your vacation city or visit your house while you’re gone?

2. Give your clients advance notice and connection to a back up contact who can either continue progress on a project in motion or find you if there’s an urgent matter. Lucky for me, our projects were in a final phase mode and the finishing editor was available to see them through. It’s also good to know that several new projects will begin this month, which made coming back something I looked forward to.

3. Weigh the benefits of being unplugged versus being plugged in. Although we had an iMac in our hotel room, I only used it a few times to check museum hours and directions. I confess that we did look up the Versailles twitter site for information on the site’s opening during a strike. My husband checked email everyday, which was helpful to see what was happening with our kids.

4. Appoint an email guardian. This worked so well that I may entrust someone to browse my email for important messages. I have to admit I get distracted by sales and travel messages that aren’t really relevant to what I’m doing.

5. Relax, your work and your friends will be waiting for you. I love following what people are doing in real time. Engaging in a conversation or commenting would take me out of the Paris zone so I decided not to check in at all.

6. Keep a tab on your international data plan usage. Data roaming charges can rack up to equal almost another vacation’s worth of charges. Before leaving, I talked to at&t, turned on an international plan for one month and turned off data roaming for 99.9% of the entire time we were in Paris. I did turn on the Maps App twice to help us find our way when we needed to confirm an address. In all, I made two phone calls, both to my husband, sent about 30 texts to family and checked Google maps three times.

7. Have a re-entry plan. I’m working on that this morning. Thanks to United for finding my lost luggage that just arrived with my camera battery and card reader, I can start looking at my images. But, I’ll wait to do that until I slog through email, return phone calls and check blog comments along with twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn messages.

8. Know how to use your equipment. My iPhone arrived the week before we left and I purchased a Canon T1i about 10 days before we flew out. Although I didn’t plan to use my iPhone as much, it would have been helpful to understand more about how to use it before we got there. I love my new camera, but am still getting comfortable with the settings.

9. Stay at a hotel with a computer and let your companion do the surfing. When we got back home last night my husband said, “Are you ever going to touch a computer again?” At that moment, I was too tired and jet-lagged to appreciate how much being offline and away from a screen meant to both of us. And next time? I’ll be looking to host a tweet-up in Paris.

10. Write to your readers right away. I missed you all and it’s good to be back at the keyboard and the screen. Although I have to admit, that this morning with jet lag, it’s harder to think.

How about you? When do you choose to unplug and for how long? What recommendations would you share with us?

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