For many of us, summertime means taking some vacation time away from work, especially some time off from being always-on. For some of my friends, that means leaving technology behind, and they return to old-school paperback books while sitting poolside without cell phones handy. For me, I don’t go to these extremes, both because I really can’t be truly “off” because of my company leadership role but also because I believe that technology has an important place in my down-time.
To plan for my own upcoming vacation, I relied heavily on online tools to find exactly what suits my family’s preferences and budget as well as to be more prepared for our travels. This removed a lot of stress from vacation planning. So many tools at our fingertips helped us to compare options that fit within our budget! I don’t doubt that the web’s many travel sites have helped the travel market to become a lot more competitive and families to be able to manage expenses better.
An upside of staying in luxury hotels is the service of a concierge to book things like theater tickets and dinner reservations. But thanks to the internet, people at all budget levels have ubiquitous access to these services. When my family wants to book tickets to local attractions, we do it ourselves via our cell phones over wifi if not on an iPad or a laptop.
Speaking of removing stress, good connectivity can be key to relaxation as well. Once, I was somewhere in Europe on a business trip, and I needed to download my e-mails. My room had no connection, so I had to sit in the lobby and dial-up via a phone line, which took hours just to get some basic e-mails back and forth. I actually had to call my assistant back on my office to get her to read some e-mails to me over the phone! This negative experience made the few days of sightseeing that I’d tacked on at the end of that trip a lot more stressful. I don’t need to be always-on, but I do need to always have easy access to e-mail if I want to be able to relax and enjoy myself. By staying even loosely connected, I can monitor things and jump in if necessary. That way, my trips away are more flexible if I am in a new place and want to sightsee or to incorporate family time, too. Since technology has increased our flexibility location-wise, I like to take maximum advantage of that via a good internet connection.
Fortunately, in part thanks to products that my company, RingCentral, offers, telephone connectivity is no longer an issue for folks on the go. With consumer apps or apps like RingCentral for business use, it’s possible to stay connected without incurring huge roaming charges. With RingCentral’s tools, people can use their business identities; colleagues and customers call the number or extension on which they always reach you, videoconferences happen as usual, etc. Again, the flexibility that technology offers facilitates the rest of our lives, which I’ve found is key to having a relaxing travel schedule whether for business or for pleasure.
Lastly, my favorite way to use technology while traveling is to share my experiences with friends and family by sharing photos, stories, and experiences. This helps us all to stay better connected with each others’ hectic lives.
How do you view using technology for or during your vacation? Do you leave it all behind, or is it central to your time away? I’d like to hear from you!