A cell phone is useful while vacationing with family, from getting directions, reading local reviews and finding family-friendly activities. But sometimes, cell phones can interfere with the family bonding experience, especially when everyone’s glued to their phones.
Smartphones and other mobile devices have become one of many important accessories in our lives. You can take photos with your phone, communicate with family and update friends about your whereabouts. But if you don’t know how to unplug, you could also miss out on amazing experiences.
So, how do you reign in your family’s cell phone usage while on vacation? Here are a few helpful tips to get you started.
1. Set an “away” message.
If you regularly communicate with coworkers via email, chances are you’ll receive at least one work-related email while on vacation.
Ignoring a work message for several days feels counter intuitive and you might feel inclined to respond, so it doesn’t look like you’re being negligent or irresponsible. But vacation is vacation! It’s a time to completely disconnect from work and enjoy a little rest and relaxation. Be sure to set the proper expectations at your place of employment and then set an “away” message on your email account, so everyone knows you will be unreachable for a given period of time.
The message should be simple and include your days of unavailability and the next appropriate point of contact. This way, people who send emails won’t expect an immediate response and you only have to check your email every couple of days, if at all. Encourage your family members to do the same.
2. Don’t respond to messages.
If you do receive a work-related message, it’s important that you don’t respond—especially if the person sending the message knows you’re on vacation.
Of course, this isn’t always feasible. But if it is, hold off on addressing issues until you return home. Even a response acknowledging receipt of the message could give the impressive that you’re available, prompting additional emails that infringe on your family time. By not responding, you’re setting a precedent, silently telling others not to bother you.
3. Set ground rules.
You probably can’t avoid your cell phone the entire vacation. You’ll have downtime at some point, and there’s nothing wrong with checking social media or playing games. The main thing is not to be glued to the phone or rely on it for the duration of your trip. Therefore, set ground rules with your family before leaving home. You might permit using a cell phone while traveling via car or airplane, but ban the use of cell phones while on family outings or at a restaurant. This gives everyone a chance to converse and reconnect.
4. Keep phones in a drawer.
When you arrive at your hotel or resort, resolve as a family unit to keep cell phones in a drawer. To prepare for a “no cell phone zone,” bring along board games or playing cards. This way, you don’t sit around bored when you’re not enjoying activities outside the hotel. You can also watch a movie as a family or participate in outdoor activities, like biking, swimming, tennis and more.
5. Don’t bring other electronic devices.
While you may need a cell phone while on vacation, see if you can avoid bringing other electronic devices. In other words, leave your laptop and tablet at home. The more electronic devices in tow, the easier it’ll be to rely on these for entertainment.
Vacation is a time to relax and enjoy time with your family; unfortunately, cell phones can make this difficult. As a family, agree to limit cell phone usage and think of creative ways to spend time together. Again, this doesn’t mean you can never look at your phone. The key word, however, is moderation.