When You Go On Vacation, How Do You Stay Connected? - Blogging, Small Business, Web Design & Hosting Tips - A Small Orange

When You Go On Vacation, How Do You Stay Connected?

We’ve all experienced it. You work your butt off the week before you go on vacation inhopes of minimizing mid-vacation interruptions. We set our away messages: “Sorry, I will be out of the office until… If this is a emergency, please contact so-and-so.” Our true voice might sound like this: “Woo hoo! I can’t believe I made out of the office! I hope the issue is resolved by the time I return. Please. Please. Please email the other person. Cheers!”

I asked one of our ASO’ers to share his tips and experience and got a great response, which I’m posting below:

Last Tuesday, while working remotely from the kitchen table, it happened. I was within 2 emails of inbox zero. As I reflected, I realized this hadn’t happened since … last year when I went on vacation. I’ve come close a few times, but never within 2 emails. What is it about vacation that brings a sense of urgency to all those pending to-dos we’ve been putting off? For me, it’s the goal of having a clear and focused mind when I finally hit the road/plane with my wife and/or our 4 kids.

Typically I try and take one completely unconnected vacation a year. 5 days where my cell phone, laptop, tablet, pager, Nintendo DSi, iPhone, Android, iPod touch and, yes even my GPS get locked inside my house. It’s a scary and liberating feeling. This post isn’t about that. It’s about staying connected while being away. Last week I took my family to spend some time at the beach and do some volunteer work in South Texas. Normally, this would have been my week to disconnect from the world. However, I’ve discovered being in the hosting world means never quite being able to disconnect.

When I travel for work I’m always connected. My preferred tools of the trade are a MacBook Pro and an Android phone. I don’t bother trying to get mobile 3G to my laptop and opt for hunting down free wifi in airports, coffee shops, and hotels. This strategy can have its drawbacks, but in those times I just can’t connect to anything I keep an actual, physical, non-downloaded book in my bag. Just in case.

This trip was a little different. Texas beaches aren’t the most wired areas, and neither is the area near the Texas Mexico border where we would spend the bulk of our time. All this combined with the fact I knew I would need to have access to email, billing and ticketing systems, chat, and who knows what else. What is a guy to do? I know what I did, and that’s buy a Samsung Galaxy Tablet with a data plan and 3G hotspot capabilities. It’s the greatest purchase I’ve made in a while. I was able to walk my wife through troubleshooting a down website on the drive to the beach, negotiate a contract with a datacenter in Italy via Skype, and update a large client on the status of his new server. I spent a maximum of 30 minutes working on my first day of vacation. All without having to hunt down a connection or take time away from my wife and kids. The few times last week I did have to pull out the laptop, I was done in less time than it took me to write this blog post.

So whats the point? The moral of the story? The Kool-Aid I want you to drink? It’s getting increasingly harder to completely forget about work and go on vacation. It’s also getting increasingly easier to put out the major issues you have to deal with while you’re out having fun with the family. I finally stopped fighting it and embraced the tools available. I was stress free and we had a great time.

In case you want a condensed version, here are my staying connected tips when traveling for work or play:

  • Phone, laptop, and tablet with 3G hotspot capabilities.
  • Take care of the critical stuff and leave the rest for when you get back.
  • Let your significant other drive while you tie up some loose ends.
  • Work when it’s not taking time away from family/friends (in the car, while watching a movie, at night, etc.)

Then I reached out to our Twitter friends, asking “When you finally do go on vacation, how do you stay connected?” and got back a bevy of answers ranging from “I don’t, that’s the point” (I release myself from my digital shackles) via Gatheth Rees to “Laptop, phone AND iPad” (any room for clothes?) via Gouda and even “I ‘vacation’ at home, so I’m still connected. #staycation #poorman #holiday” (I feel you, I really do) via IBBoard. Gatheth’s choice releases him from his digital shackles, Gouda opts for less clothes and more technology, and IBBoard is like a lot of today’s Americans, just glad to have work.

“How Do You Stay Connected” – Twitter results

So how about you?  Do you stay connected 24/7 or cut the cord and drink the emails away? Let me know in the comments below!

Very special thanks to the contributors that inspired this post:
@EskimoJill @PockIm @Collin1000 @pcanella @fortinj1354 @ashipkowski @frizzfest @StephenFleming @aazizorg @IBBoard @bitcable @RobLoBue @_gareth @thogg4 @RackMountain and anyone else I might have forgot. Thank you all so much!

  • IBBoard

    “Like a lot of Americans…” Americans? AMERICANS?! Ye gads – I’m British, I’ll have you know 😛

    On a more serious note: maybe I’m just too junior for now, but I don’t see how people have a problem disconnecting. I’m on holiday. I’m not getting paid to work. Therefore, I don’t work.

    I tend to stay connected via laptops and wifi (can’t afford these posh phones/contracts) if we’re visiting family for a weekend, but it is all personal stuff and less of it than normal.

    If you still work while on holiday, it isn’t a vacation 😉

  • Will

    You know I’ve developed (and know many people who have) this OCD feeling of when you have a mobile device + 3G/4G internet constantly now anywhere with mobile coverage you always have the urge to check e-mail, reply right away even though you are in a position to just “relax” while on vacation/holiday.

    Ah the whim of society, progress and modern technology.

    I was in a car on the freeway/highway ~4 weeks ago and (while I was not driving) on a long inter-state car ride streaming WiFi to a family remember on the iPad, web surfing and me semi-working while mobile.

    You know the worst thing in modern society!? Working on a damn laptop in the car!

    Sometimes in life you need to just “relax” and “get away from it all”. Of course my nerdy brain never seems to shut-down ever since I was born…

  • Vacation? What’s that? No, seriously, I’m the primary family caregiver for an elderly parent with some severe health problems and I’m a self-representing artist. I can only dream about “vacation.”

    If I did take one that was longer than, say, a weekend, I’d probably fully disconnect and spend my time creating.