Offline Vacation

Imagine: Three weeks without the Internet. In fact, three weeks without any form of contact with the rest of the world. The annual family vacation this year saw us in a place with GSM coverage and nothing else, and as this was a vacation the mobile phone did not accompany me in the way it normally does the rest of the year. There was electricity (unstable), and water most of the time too. The rental car had a basic AM/FM radio but couldn’t get any station in a language I could understand. No TV. The newspapers were in an alien tongue too, except for the occasional copy of a UK tabloid (though let’s be honest, those are alien too). Whatever way you look at it, I had basically found myself on a desert island (both figuratively and literally).

So what is it like to be suddenly away from the “information superhighway”?

Scary. That’s what.

Well, for the first few days at least. Then you settle down to a more natural, calm, pace of life. Your first waking thoughts are not focussed on your inbox. You don’t watch the clock. (In fact, I stopped wearing my watch.) I imagine this is the kind of vacation from work that is envisaged by the likes of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions.

Of course, for many people in these days of the Blackberry and the Mobile Web, there is a common expectation that an employee is connected and contactable, even when on vacation.

How did we ever survive before the mobile phone? More to the point: now that permanent connectivity is here, how will we ever survive without real vacations???

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