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Is a Vacation Truly a Vacation if You’re Constantly Checking Your Phone?

Is a Vacation Truly a Vacation if You’re Constantly Checking Your Phone?

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Labor Day is right around the corner. As summer comes to a close, how many of us really got a vacation in? And do vacations involve ‘turning off’ from technology? Qriously recently conducted a study on this topic and found that 63% of Americans check their phones frequently whilst on vacation, while 37% of Americans prefer to detach from their mobile devices.

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Folks on the east coast are likely to continue to check their phone frequently even while on vacation. Is that due to folks feeling compelled to share their photos on social media, or is it for work reasons?  TripAdvisor conducted a survey in 2013 and found that 61% of Americans use social media while on vacation, but many folks are also keeping their phones by their sides for work reasons. According to research from the American Psychological Association (APA), more than 44% of Americans check their work email on their phones while on vacation – about 1 in 10 check in hourly.

People are often given the advice to unplug if you want to achieve work-life balance and recharge,” said David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, assistant executive director for organizational excellence at APA. “While there’s no question that people need downtime to recover from work stress and avoid burnout, that doesn’t necessarily require a complete ‘digital detox.’ For many people, the ability to stay connected adds value to their work and personal lives. We’re learning that not everyone wants to power down, and that’s OK. 

If you’re a small business owner, you’re even more likely to check your phone frequently while on vacation. ADT also conducted a study recently and found that 55% of SMB owners said they never travel without their phones so they can check in on business when they’re away.  Their research also found that 44% call, text or email their business every day while on vacation, the same findings as the APA.

While it may be tempting to monitor emails and take calls while on vacation, there are many perks to shutting off the phone and truly taking a ‘vacation’. In fact, people are opting in to ‘digital detox’ retreats to combat their mobile addiction where they pay up to $1,400 for 72 peaceful hours away from their phones. You don’t need to break the bank or go to extremes to disconnect from your phones for a few days. Here are a few things to think about when you’re considering unplugging on vacation…

1. Leaving your phone behind can do wonders for your stress levels. While you may experience withdrawal symptoms without your trusty sidekick (read: phone), stepping away from your phone while you’re on vacation allows you to truly live in the moment with your travel companions and de-stress. If you can’t actually leave it behind, consider putting it on airplane mode.

2. We’ve reached a point where companies are actually forbidding employees to respond to emails while on vacation. David Morken, CEO of Bandwidth, was tired of feeling half-present on vacation with his family due to work calls and emails. He encouraged employees to unplug during their leisure times and then enacted a strict ‘vacation rule’ where he mandated that employees who responded to emails on vacations be reported. “You have to make it a firm, strict policy,” Morken says. “I had to impose it because the meth-like addiction of connection is so strong.” As you might imagine, employees now love this rule.

3. There’s actually no proof that working harder (and not taking time off) leads to greater success.  According to research firm Ipsos, only 57% of Americans use all the paid vacation they’re offered from their employers. The average American workers gets 13 paid vacation days per year. Compare that to France, which mandates that every worker gets 31 days of paid vacation. According to Francine Lederer, a clinical psychologist who specializes in stress and relationship management, “The impact that taking a vacation has on one’s mental health is profound. Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation.” 

Vacations are a chance to take a break from work and social media, and instead spend quality time with yourself or your loved ones. Take advantage of that opportunity to unplug, and you will more than likely come back to ‘reality’ feeling refreshed and fulfilled.

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