Are you hoping for a chance to unplug from a stressful job? Need time to escape and re-center yourself without the constant buzz of phone alerts? What about an opportunity to get some tech-free quality time with your family? I imagine most of us would answer “Yes, yes and yes.” Unplugging on your Florida vacation could be the answer, and it’s not difficult if you plan ahead, stick to the rules and keep it interesting.
Think about which activities you and your family need a break from – for you and your spouse it may be checking emails and texts, for your kids it may be playing with game apps or social media. Then create a plan to avoid those activities by turning off or even leaving behind those devices. Discuss with your family a plan where everyone sacrifices something.
Create ground rules that everyone can agree on. Don’t make it too hard. Maybe for the first unplugged trip you can take it easy on everyone, by allowing use of devices for an hour each evening, especially if you’re staying in a hotel with wi-fi. Decide when everyone will unplug, and when they’ll be able to plug back in – perhaps on the return drive. Then create your email auto-replies and inform your contacts (house/pet sitters) accordingly. Keep one device handy for emergencies, in case you get lost or need to contact someone.
When booking your Florida accommodations, consider booking an off-the-grid style stay. Nothing helps you unplug more than an isolated cabin or out-of-range campground. Another option is a retreat camp, themed resort or cruise, which provide loads of fun activities to keep you busy throughout your trip.
Stick to the Rules
Remember, as the one who had the idea in the first place, it’s crucial that you follow the rules. No sneaking a peak at your phone or flipping on the TV (if there’s a no-screen rule). Once a rule is broken, the whole plan could collapse! Keep the family on track by rewarding them for staying unplugged or by delegating jobs to them.
This could work well during road trips, when non-drivers can get bored and decide reading or puzzle books just aren’t enough. If you’re traveling on Florida Interstates or the Turnpike, stop at the Welcome Centers or Service Plazas for travel guides, maps and brochures. Ask them to navigate with “old school” printed maps to find roadside attractions or restaurants to stop at. If you’re the driver, use a GPS device or the car’s navigation system to stay offline.
Keep It Interesting
Try to create a schedule that’s fun and leaves room for everyone to contribute. Find attractions and things to do that support the tech-free way of life. Eco-Tours and other nature themed sites abound in Florida. Kayaking, boat tours, fishing charters, jet-ski rentals, para-sailing, scuba diving, zip lining – just to name a few – are all unplugged yet exciting activities.
Consider making a tech exception by bringing a nice camera, a DSLR or even waterproof model for time at the beach. This will allow everyone to save memorable images to use later on social media without interrupting your tech-free moments.
Back to Reality
Whether it was a success or a work-in-progress, ending your unplugged vacation is always bitter sweet. Before everyone plugs back in, take time to discuss the trip with the family – what worked and what didn’t. They may have suggestions. Don’t take it personally, later on your family’s opinions may change. After you return to life as usual, share photos and talk about planning another trip.
If unplugging on your Florida vacation left you rested and more in sync with your family, tell others about it. Explain to them how to plan ahead, stick to the rules and keep it interesting. Now more than ever, families need tech-free time away to strengthen their bond and renew their motivations.