There's a new trend in family travel: the getaways that aren't.
Aren't real getaways, that is, because the cell-phone, iPhone, tablet and/or laptop come on the trip too, and keep you constantly connected to the world you're vacationing from. Calls from work, Facebook and other social media, checking email "just for a minute": Hello, Wireless World. Good-bye, Be Here Now.
It surely takes the bounce out of a child when a cell phone call suddenly pulls a parent a thousand miles away.
So if you're on a much-needed vacation and want some quality time with your kids, how about:
"Just Saying No" to Wireless World, for a while?
As with any addiction, it's tough to quit: we're habituated to constantly getting messages. Moreover, in some corporate cultures there's an expectation that you should answer every email within ten minutes, wherever you are. (If that's your corporate culture, and you're reading this family travel site because you've got small kids -- it may be time for some re-thinking of lifestyle.)
One approach is to simply cut the wireless. Go camping, where cell phones don't work; fly to a country where you won't get service; or maybe book into the upscale Kona Village on Hawaii's Big Island, where a feature of the vacation is being "unplugged".
Simplest of all: leave the cell phone, Crackberry, or laptop at home.
Most of us, however, will bring the device along, and tell ourselves we can handle it. Right.
Words you don't want to say while on vacation: "You all go down to the pool, I just want to check my email first."
"Um, I do have to take this call..."
Here's a simple three-step program that may help:
1. Release yourself from the obligation to answer email.
Before your vacation, set up an automated email reply saying you're not available to answer email. Do this even if you're secretly bringing your Blackberry and plan to check email ten times a day: nonetheless, you've signalled that you're off the grid.
2. During those times of the day when you're with your kids -- playing, eating, talking, tucking into bed-- don't let the call of the wireless pull you away from them.
3. If you need to check email, do it when the kids are asleep, or playing with other kids, or at a kids' program. Cool side benefit: the longer the interval between collecting emails, the easier it is to tell what's important and what's not.
The Bottom Line
Just do the math: for how many years will your kids so joyously want to spend time with you? How many vacations, realistically, will you take during those years? Really, you can't afford to waste your together-time.
Kids are all about being in the moment. So when you're on vacation -- join them there.