I was a hold out for years. I didn’t get my first smartphone until two years ago when I started a job that required me to have access to social media at all times. Now, like just about everyone else around me, I find myself obsessively checking my phone, looking at Facebook, Instagram, email; listening to podcasts; and googling every question I ever have. I love having constant access to useful information, like the weather, and my friends and family through texting, but I find that it’s now harder than ever to take time to focus or get away from the digital noise.
Every day I’m taking steps to build habits and strategies to limit distractions and be more present and focused on the task at hand. The next step for me happens this weekend. My husband and I are intentionally unplugging from our digital devices during a four-day vacation. I believe this will allow us to enjoy more quality time together, spark creativity and thoughtfulness, enhance relaxation, and help us hit that reset button to regain control over how we use our devices instead of falling into a cycle of addicted smartphone time wasting.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? So why don’t you join us in taking some time away from your smartphone or digital device? Here are 5 tips on how to be successful and the benefits you’ll experience when you unplug during your next RV camping trip.
Don’t let your smartphone control you.
You may not realize how addicted you are to your smartphone until you intentionally take time away from it. If you’re on a trip with your close family, you don’t really need to access the internet except maybe once or twice a day … or maybe not at all. Set some ground rules and boundaries before you leave for your trip. Everyone has to be on board in advance and know what to expect. Consider bringing only one smartphone and/or computer and keep it out of sight as much as possible. Make some simple rules about when and how devices can be used during the trip. Pick up the newspaper in town if you want to keep up on the news.
Spend quality time with your family.
I was biking on our local river walk recently and had to stop completely to avoid a distracted family of 6 that didn’t see me coming because everyone was squinting down at a smartphone and paying no attention to where they were going. Most families aren’t quite that bad, but a lot of us are on a slippery slope with our overuse of technology. With devices out of sight it’s so much easier to talk to your spouse and your kids and give your undivided attention. You’ll learn new things about each other, build deeper bonds, feel more connected, and hopefully help everyone, especially your kids, improve their interpersonal skills.
Give your brain a break.
Seems like every day there is new research or conjecture on how bombarding our brains with constant stimulation is hurting productivity, creativity and healthy sleep cycles. It’s very hard to sort through all the information that we have access to. If we don’t give our brains time to process, we are putting ourselves in danger of overloading and becoming stressed and anxious. Build new habits on vacation while it’s easier to be disconnected. Take some time to sit quietly in the morning or evening and think. Take a walk alone or as a family, but mandate general quiet and contemplation for one leg of the journey. Teach your kids to be comfortable with silence and help them build this healthy habit of resting their brains to reboot and process life more thoughtfully.
Be creative and thoughtful.
Take some time to explore creative outlets like writing, drawing, painting, playing in the mud, etc. Encourage your kids to journal about the day. Or have them write a list of things and people they are grateful for. Take some time to write notes of thanks or encouragement to friends and family. Really look at your surroundings. Look closely at the bark on a tree. Get close and personal with an ant hill. Listen to birds and bugs. Try to learn and teach your kids by exploring with all of your senses. Write down any questions you don’t have answers for and research them later together as a family.
Get physical and spend time outside.
Most of us don’t spend enough time outside or being active and miss out on vital sunshine and exercise because we’re cooped up in an office and our kids are inside at school. Take some time on your trip to enjoy the natural landscape. Stay out for the sunset or get up early for the sunrise. Play outdoor sports, take a hike. Make a game out of spotting wildlife or learning the names of plants. Maybe find a good tree to climb. People who spend more time outside also exhibit lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and show increased immune function. So, take advantage of your surroundings and explore with your kids.
Leave a comment if you have any other ideas that might help others enjoy a family RV vacation unplugged from smartphones and other digital devices. And if you decide to take your next trip unplugged, let us know how it goes.