When we think of vacationing, many of us ensure we have our phone and charger so that we can capture every moment to share on social media. We’ll consider the technology that we must bring to keep ourselves and our families occupied during flights or long drives. But many experts share that unplugging during your travels may be beneficial for your emotional, mental, and physical health.
According to the 2023 Travel Trends Report from Hopper, a popular travel app, 54% of Americans plan to take more trips this year than last year. And, per the Allianz Partners USA’s 14th Annual Vacation Confidence Index, 74% of Americans consider an annual vacation important—a huge leap from 60% in 2019. Sixty five percent of Americans expressed intentions to vacation this year, up from 52% in 2014.
With so many more people opting to travel now with restrictions easing post-pandemic, there are many worthwhile reasons to consider unplugging for all or part of your vacation.
Benefits of Unplugging on Vacation
Sharon Unterreiner is the Director of Behavioral Health and Special Programs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. She shares that it is important to unplug and take a break while traveling.
“It can be difficult to fully unplug during a vacation; however, it is so important to find that time and allow your brain to take a break and reset,” she explains. “Disconnecting allows you to intentionally connect with those you are traveling with and can make you feel refreshed and relaxed when you return from your vacation.”
“By unplugging, you are giving yourself the opportunity to de-stress and recharge your batteries, so you do not feel burnt out. Traveling can also promote physical activity as many vacationers hike a new trail, take a swim, or walk around exploring a new city,” she continues. “People who travel regularly experience positive effects for longer. After traveling, you’re more likely to feel clearheaded and ready to take on whatever is waiting for you when you return home. This is why people are more productive after a break. Try to visit a new place every once in a while to help your mental health.”
When it comes to family travel, per an Alamo Rent A Car Family Vacation Survey, 91% of those surveyed find the idea of an unplugged family vacation appealing.
According to the same survey, “Fifty-six percent of social media users say they use family vacations as a time to take a break from social media. More than a third of families (37%) have gone a step further and committed to unplugging from computers and mobile devices altogether while on vacation; of that group, 92% were successful.” Furthermore, of those that chose to unplug, “Forty one percent enjoyed themselves more, 40% had better conversations, 38% felt more relaxed, and 36% felt closer as a family.”
“Planning and having something to look forward to will start the path that creates happiness and excitement around travel,” Unterreiner says. “You wonder why some people get the travel bug – it is because travel brings happiness and joy and contributes to your overall health and well-being. It can provide clarity, boost creativity, reduce stress, lower your risk of depression, and give the opportunity to see and experience different perspectives. You can make your travel big or small, local or abroad, for a day or a month, and you will still get a benefit from it.”
Once You’re Home
Whether you choose to unplug or not on your travels, the benefits of just traveling are many.
Unterreiner shares some tips for keeping those positive post-travel feelings from disappearing when you’re back at work:
Set boundaries so you can take control of your time.
Ensure you are prioritizing what makes you happy and make time for it.
Incorporate a lunchtime walk or take a stretch break during your workday.
Keep travel photos or mementos that are visible to you daily to remind you of your travel experiences.
Plan another road trip or vacation!
“The positive impact of travel can last for about one month,” Unterreiner explains. “Work-life balance is crucial for maintaining happiness and overall well being.”
With some pre-planning, you can benefit from unplugging during your next trip. Safe travels!
SIDEBAR: Unplugging Tips
Confused on how to go about unplugging? Here are some helpful hints to consider before going on vacation:
Be sure to let work know you are truly out of the office. This includes setting up out-of-office emails, giving a heads up to anyone who may have any issues while you’re gone, and leaving work-related devices at home.
Of course, keep safety in mind. Do take your cell phone with you for emergencies or let your loved ones know how to get a hold of you if you’re leaving it at home.
Decide what “unplugging” looks like to you and your family. Do you plan to only use devices for set times? Does it mean all electronics, or are group activities like movies, etc. together okay? Write down expectations.
If you’re on a family trip, warn the kids ahead of time and plan to pack extra things to do in case of boredom. Consider hearing their thoughts and tailor your plan to what works best for your family.
Be kind to yourself. If you check your phone or don’t follow your rules to a T, be gentle with yourself and loved ones – it’s a new skill!
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