We are raising families in a technological age, and that means we are very plugged into the world around us. When you plan a family vacation, you don’t want to spend your time doing something you already do on the daily. You want adventure, history, experiences and memories. You won’t find that in your electronic devices. It’s time to unplug and venture out together. Here are my tips for a successful unplugged family vacation.
I’ve partnered with Alamo’s Scenic Route to bring you my tips for unplugging.
- Lock your phone in the car or leave it in your room or tent – It wasn’t that long ago when we didn’t have mobile phones on us at all times. Consider it an “emergency only” device, and lock it away in your car or room. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Change your phones lock screens – Change the image on your lock screen to something that will deter you from opening it. If you can’t risk not having your mobile phone on you then at least put up barriers to keep it closed. Check out some of the fun lock screen images from Alamo Unplugged Family Toolkit. They are friendly reminders that nothing on your phone or in an app is as important than the memories you are making with your family.
- Bring a camera instead of your digital devices – A lot of times people want to use the phone or even a tablet as their camera, which I agree it is handy, but have you ever thought about bringing an actual camera instead? Take it a step further and find a disposable camera, give it to your kids to capture their favorite memories on the trip and then, have the photos developed after you get home. You can place the pictures in a photo album to cherish forever.
- Change your phone settings – A lot of the newer phones have screen time settings that will lock you out of specific apps like social networking, email or games. Activate these settings as an added deterrent. Don’t forget to turn off all push notifications. You can also put your phone into airplane mode and only use items like the camera.
- Buy a map – One of my favorite memories as a child was being the navigator during my family vacations. Not only did I learn a ton about maps, but I also developed an amazing sense of direction that unfortunately most people don’t have these days. You can use a map to plan your vacation stops and adventures. Take the road less traveled and far more scenic!
- Vacation Mode Activated – Let your coworkers, friends and family know you are going on vacation. Use the “out-of-office” vacation settings in your email to auto-respond saying you will respond at your return. You can post a picture to Facebook, letting friends and family know you’re off the grid for a while and not to worry! Make sure those posts aren’t public, though. You don’t want strangers knowing you are going out of town. It is good to let close friends and family know.
- Plan everything in advance – Make an itinerary before you leave instead of figuring out the plans on your phone last minute. Let the concierge make reservations or suggest a place to visit and eat. Another great option is to visit the areas visitor's bureau and have them suggest locations. They have the inside scoop on everything happening in the area from events to discounts, or even closings.
- Bring a replacement – While it’s nice that your phone is a Swiss army knife of tools, just bring things like a watch, flashlight or board games with you, so you aren’t tempted by the phone.
- Don’t leave time for screen time – This can be especially true for vacations that involve being in the great outdoors where you can hike, swim, climb and be out of range from cell phone towers! Visit a location that forces you to unplug and let the battery die! My husband is notorious for dropping his cellphone (three times in the last few years) into the water while he is fishing, despite him being there to “relax.”
- Schedule time – If using your phone is a must, use it for something like checking in on your dogs or an emergency at work. Schedule a set amount of time for yourself to handle what you need to, and then unplug for the rest of the day with. Take the pledge with your family.
As a parent that has trouble unplugging completely, I understand how challenging it can be to go without a phone. I hope these tips help you and your family disconnect and build new, long-lasting memories together.
For more tips and travel ideas for an amazing unplugged family vacation, check out Alamo's Scenic Route.