Does a proper vacation require distancing yourself from the internet altogether?

I went to a music festival at The Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington last month called Sasquatch. It was four days of camping and concerts with friends. The Gorge is spectacular!  The acoustics are brilliant, and photos don`t do justice to the space`s natural beauty. Imagine how fun and uplifting it is to witness a concert with 30,000 other cheering fans of live music.

The Gorge Amphitheatre

Prior to attending Sasquatch, I had never been to The Gorge before. Being the social media addict that I am, I tried to find information online about accessing the internet during the festival.  In other words, I wanted to know if there would be free wi-fi.

Previous concert-goers at The Gorge explained that not only was the concept of free wi-fi laughable, but there was poor cell reception in the area. Before I left home, I made a point to announce to friends, family and work colleagues that I be inaccessible via social media, email, and cell phone in general.

What's the Wi-fi Password??My response to the realization that cell phone use wouldn’t be an option at The Gorge was eye-opening to say the least. Not only was I concerned (for whatever reason) that I wouldn’t be able to access the internet or use my cell, but I made a point to communicate that fact to friends and family.

I was shocked to realize this kind of behaviour within myself because when I go on vacation, I like to distance myself from my daily life altogether. Much as Vancouver, BC is naturally beautiful, I enjoy leaving town. I’m not a fan of the stay-cation because I prefer to be completely inaccessible when I’m on vacation.

I believe in turning your mind away from work during your personal time, whether you’re on a lunch break or out of town. Try to pay attention to how much you talk about work when you’re with your friends and family! When you speak about work outside of the workplace, you’re inviting work into your private life. Think about how much jargon and how many work-specific abbreviations you’ve introduce to your friends and family over the years. I bet you talk about work more than you think …

But no one’s perfect. I have a nasty habit of checking work emails, even when I’m out of country. I might not check them every day, and I might not respond to them unless they’re truly urgent, but the same is true – I check work emails (and occasionally respond) while I’m on vacation.

Self-awareness is important because it allows you to recognize where you are, and where you actually want yourself to be. Having said that, it’s particularly frightening to admit that I check work-related emails while on vacation because I am an entry-level employee. I’m not an HR Generalist, and I’m not an HR Manager. No staff report directly to me in my HR job. So what’s going to happen to my terrible little habit as my career grows?

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

Geraldine Sangalang, CHRP

I know that I won’t be working in an entry-level position forever, so how can I change my behaviour over time? I’m inclined to say that I can’t: I will probably continue checking work-related emails while I’m on vacation because of my personality. I can imagine that as I take on more complex projects and positions during my professional career, I’ll likely feel even more inclined to be available online and by phone while I’m away from the jobsite.

So I ask you: does a proper vacation require distancing yourself from the internet altogether?  Should you distance yourself from work-related communication 100% and how do you convince yourself to stay away from the internet while you’re on vacation?

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