Once upon a time, family vacations were genuinely fun and memorable.
As kids, the thought of leaving home and escaping to a far destination, sightseeing while inside the car, and discovering new places and activities, is enough to keep us thrilled. We remember bringing our favorite toys, sleeping during road trips and waking up to a great, unfamiliar view. We used to help with the BBQ and eat together while laughing and sharing stories. Our parents would hold one of those classic video cameras with flip screens, record the highlights of the trip, and watch everything as a family by the time we got home.
Ah, the good old days. Nostalgic, isn’t it?
There were no smartphones or tablets back then – only film cameras, car stereos, stuffed animals, and board games to entertain us. There were no social media profiles to update, or followers to please, or even an online persona to establish. There were no emails to bug you while on vacation. Family vacations meant unplugging from work or school, and simply enjoying each moment with loved ones.
Today, it’s different. Everyone’s on their phones. There’s a dead silence inside the car. Free Wi-Fi has become a “must” in hotels. The days are shorter, for the hours have been wasted on gadgets and social media. Technology has changed the way we travel, both for the good and the bad.
Do these situations resonate with you? Whether you’re traveling as a family or with your spouse, you can do something to prevent technology from ruining your precious vacation. Here are 7 ways to do it.
1. Prepare everyone and set ground rules on unplugging
Before embarking on a fun family adventure, make sure everyone’s on the same page. Remind everyone why you should limit electronic devices and screen time in the first place. You may even brainstorm ideas on what you can do during downtime.
Set limitations including:
- Establish designated tech times
- Phones and tablets should only be used as cameras
- Put down gadgets during meals
- Encourage them to turn off their notifications
2. Aim for a (mostly) tech-free vacation
Leaving gadgets behind is the easiest way to have a rewarding, tech-free family vacation. But let’s admit it – it’s unrealistic. We’re not just talking about the tantrums over the lack of video games – your travel documents have also gone digital.
Be a smart, frugal traveler. If you can’t have a 100% tech-free travel, try to at least limit your technology. The less you take, the less there is to distract you. Stick to one gadget, preferably your smartphone, and leave the tablet, laptop, e-reader, and other distracting electronics behind.
3. Turn off your notifications
Yes, checking a notification takes less than 10 seconds, but it’s enough to distract you and disconnect you from reality. Let traveling be a rare opportunity to leave behind busy schedules and screens.
Whether it’s from social media or e-mail, or even a software update, make sure to turn all of them off. If you’re taking a time off work, let your colleagues know that you won’t be accommodating any work-related matters unless it’s an emergency. Ask them to call or text you instead.
4. Bring non-tech entertainment packs
Boredom? People have fought it long before social media, mobile apps, and Netflix came. You can bring tech-free alternatives like compact games to use after meals or between activities to beat the blues. Bring the fun to your hotel room by packing a deck of cards, board games, and other modern family-friendly card games like “what do you meme” and Uno.
5. Make technology work for you
Technology isn’t bad. If not for technology, you wouldn’t have seen the amenities of your Parramatta hotel from your comfortable bed or compared rates. So instead of abolishing it, try to make it work for you.
The best example is using technology to encourage family bonding. During your downtime in the hotel, why not watch a Netflix film together? How about playing an online quiz together?
6. Choose activities and destinations that foster family bonding
It’s difficult to have a tech-free vacation if your plan involves getting locked up in a hotel room 60% of the day.
Why don’t you go swimming and other vigorous family-friendly watersports, like kayaking? Or visit animals in their natural habitats to feed the children’s sight? How about camping? Or even picking resorts that are packed with a plethora of family bonding opportunities, like boat rentals, playgrounds, sports centers, and picnic grounds?
If you want to make the most out of your vacation, choose thought-provoking activities and places where the hands, eyes, body, and mind are occupied enough to keep them from screens.
7. Go to a place that encourages digital detox
Ever considered staying for a few days in a rural, close-to-nature area with poor cellular reception? If you don’t have the power to control their screen time, let nature do the job for you.
Every once in a while, escape to somewhere far from the city’s fast-paced living. Let your children appreciate the beauty of natural landscapes and the tranquility that comes with them. Encourage face-to-face interaction. Do activities that promote camaraderie, like setting up a tent, fishing, vegetable-hunting, and cooking.
You’ll notice how slow-paced the time can be when you’re disconnected from your tech. This significant experience brings your family closer and allows you to create more beautiful memories together.