WHAT I LEARNED ON VACATION: Turn off your %^&* -in Phone

Hvar Port, Croatia

“Where are you going after this?”

The bar-keep earnestly asked me the last day of my vacation.

“Where am I going?” I snarked. I had already been away for 8 days, island hopping through Croatia, which, by the way, was longer than most vacations I take and I was already ridden with guilt.

“I’m going home, back to the US. I gotta work on Monday.”

Her eyes bugged out of her head. You would have thought I had insulted her mother, or worse yet, spoke blasphemously.

What was shocking to her Croatian ears was that my American self was done holidaying and rushing back to my desk, versus the rest of my boat mates, who were heading off to lush travails in other parts of the countryside after we disembarked from the boat.

On average, Americans leave 3 vacation days lying on the table come year’s end. Some of it is driven by fear of losing a job, or security. Meanwhile, our German, Japanese and Australian counterparts take on average four weeks or more of mandated paid vacation.

What? Don’t I have to give birth or something for that kind of time off?

One South African boat mate remarked as we said our final good byes, I was the only one who was working the whole time I was on the boat. Thanks to intermittent Wi-fi on the boat, I checked messages once a day while on vacation.

That still constituted working in her eyes.

I was just on the Adriatic.

Not in New York.

As Julia Roberts famously said in Pretty Woman, “That’s just geography.”

So I was deftly reminded to UNPLUG. My friend Alex took my phone away at breakfast one morning was I was in mid-email. Staying constantly connected to my phone wasn’t improving my productivity. I reminded why I was there. Travel for me is a way to challenge myself. To keep growing, To keep progressing. To reconnect with what gives me joy.

While I was bicycling around a lake in Trstenik, I remembered how much I loved doing that as a kid. It was my daily evening activity, zipping around the school grounds on my midnight blue bike. It was amazing to reconnect with the feeling of the wind zipping though my hair as I pedaled furiously.

While I was climbing a vertical ladder to get to a bar that sat on the turret of a medieval tower, I reconnected with my sense of adventure. “Don’t drink too much!” our tour operator Yuri yelled. “You have to climb back down too.” I remembered how much I giggled when I saw a similar image of someone popping out of a floor in the movie the Holy Grail.

Basketball court in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Each day as our boat would pull into a new island, I would awake, giddy with excitement, like a kid on Christmas morning eager to unwrap gifts. Except the gifts to discover here were walled cities, million dollar yachts, and swim stops in various inlets of the Adriatic.

And none of it involved my bloody phone.

It was beautiful vacation. I am grateful to have a good friend in Jess who is always up for any cockamamie international adventure I suggest. I’m lucky to.have connected with a travel tour operator who has made this trip possible and all of my LadyDrinks Retreats possible. And I’m grateful for making new friends. Another gift I forgot I have.

I’m a little sad in this photo because vacation was ending and we were flying home to New York City the next day.

In this culture, of 24–7 connectivity, and immediate responding, here is a reminder to take a break this August if you still can. Here is a link with a lot of good stuff to a site dedicated to getting you to utilize your time off.

In my weekly newsletter for LadyDrinks, I was discussing with my colleague, Trista Ashley Robinson, the best way to frame this conversation about vacation, without it sounding frivolous. She wrote this beautiful piece on her thoughts regarding ‘taking time off’

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