Frederic Gonzalo’s Blog

Vacation time. Stay connected or turn everything off?

It’s a beautiful sunny day in Quebec City, blue sky, hot weather with 32C (that’s 90 degrees Farenheit) and the Quebec Open Beach Volleyball competition is in full bloom over the week-end. The second part of July also means the heart of summer, when half the province takes some time off to enjoy this brief period where the weather makes us almost forget our northern status.

Vacation time. Kids have been enjoying it since the end of June, and most won’t return to academia until late August, if not early September. But for folks like you and I,  still on the work scene, taking a vacation usually rhymes with taking time off from work, trying to forget the everyday challenges to focus on lighter things and have some quality time with loved ones.

My question, then: when on vacation, do you stay connected, or do you turn everything off? Perhaps I should ask the question differently: when on vacation, are you still active online, via various social networks, or do you hide under a rock for 2-3 weeks only to surface after said period?

Time to unconnect

Personally, I make a difference between staying connected for work vs. staying connected via social networks, for personal reasons. That is, my last vacation was over the Holidays, last December & January. I went to Japan, and intentionally did not bring by blackberry with me. No work email access, no work cell phone access. It felt great, liberating! 🙂

But as I was visiting friends and relatives, wifi access was almost never an issue, so with an iPad by my side it was easy to remain active on Facebook, Twitter & Linkedin, the networks I tend to be most active on. I recall receiving an email from a friend, surprised that I was still online, active on Twitter. Why? I wondered. Because I am on vacation, does it mean I should not share interesting articles found while reading on the plane? Why not share interesting little gems, like a cool restaurant in Tokyo,  an attraction near Niigata or ski resort north of Hirosaki?

Sharing pictures and bits of cool info on Facebook with friends not only brought many comments and interactions, it also made for some richer discussions upon my return. It seemed some folks, friends, relatives or colleagues, had almost traveled with me, since they knew quite a few things I had shared along the way.

We could therefore save the generic “Oh yes, I had a great trip!” and delve right into anecdotes and funny insights. As for my twitter usage while on vacation, it was mostly to gather info regarding skiing day trips we were planning. Having said that, it was a blast to see tweets firing on all cylinders on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day – the Japanese sure love to tweet!!

Personal versus Work Online

Then again, the above example was very specific. I am not sure I would be as active vacationing for a week in an all-inclusive resort somewhere in the Caribbean, and perhaps it would be different on a Cruise, or traveling across Europe, for example. But if you like to read books and magazines while on vacation, whether you’re staying at home (staycation) or going abroad, then I don’t see how being online would hinder the satisfaction level for the vacation. If anything, it may even enhance it…

Truth is, whether you stay connected or not is almost irrelevant. What really matters is that you take a vacation to begin with. That’s where true happiness resides…

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