Week to week most IT columnists browse tech websites and talk to IT professionals looking for the most updated and current technologies to write about. This year my family was blessed to have a client fly us to California (thank God for points/miles). After some meetings with the client—traffic for an hour each way, smog, and PSL’s (Pumpkin Spiced Latte’s)—California business people turned out to be about the same as New Jersey business people, except they think 65° is the frozen tundra.
Being on vacation and staying at someone else’s home, the first question we all ask is “What’s your Wi-Fi password?” Traveling to clients who have Waze and a Wi-Fi Hotspot makes things much easier.
I have a cousin, Dr. Trevor Garb, who is my alter ego. He surfs every day, has blond hair, and a very successful veterinary practice in the San Diego area. My cousin’s morning routine is to check a chat group that talks about the swells, hard breaks, whomping, and other surf lingo I can’t understand. Outside of some meetings my cousin had to attend, I saw that one can live life without technology, texting or Facebook—and still make a living at the same time.
It dawned on me that maybe the best technology to use over a vacation is NONE! There is a book called Crazy Busy from a Dr. Edward Hallowell that describes people as glued to cell phones or laptops. He calls this “Screen Sucking.” When did life get so hectic that while you are out with your children you are constantly checking for email or texts? Is your life that high profile that you need to check your email every five minutes? Is everyone taking calls from the President of the United States because they must take this call at 8:00 p.m. at night during dinner?
Has all this immediate access to emails and cell phones made life easier? Sure, having a phone available for emergencies is amazing. But I doubt your kids expected you to stay in the room while everyone sees the sunset on the beach. Watching my cousin Trevor, his children and my kids touching sea anemones, taking pictures by the beach when the suns sets, this is something no Facebook or Google experience can match. My cousin, who shares his time between his vet practice taking his kids to the beach, school, swimming practice, and every night makes a fire pit, says, “I’m on permanent vacation.”
What I took from this trip was that technology is great, helpful, and a must have. But when I saw a group of teenagers all staring at their phones or walking around with a plug looking to recharge their smartphones, is this what Steve Jobs or the Droid people intended with their Smartphones? Are your clients expecting you to answer email 24/7?
Here are some tips about technology that can be super-useful on vacation:
• Gmail users can set up a vacation mode. Users who email you will receive a reply that you are out of the office, that you might not have access to emails all day, and supplies emergency contact information. No one really cares that you are traveling, so don’t make it their problem.
• Bring a backup battery pack that can be purchased anywhere from Amazon to 7-11.
• Turn off your Wi-Fi when traveling as it saves your battery.
• Bring plenty of extra chargers in case you break one along the way.
• Waze and Google maps can be really useful if you have no sense of direction.
To summarize, as a tech professional and IT columnist, it took me time to realize that children will only be young for so long. Is the memory of their vacation going to be that you were constantly taking pictures so you could upload them to Facebook?
As a sign in my cousin’s home reads, “No Phones Beyond,” which means sometimes you need to let your phone battery die and spend time with the family. All the emails, Smartphones, Facebook and Voice-mails will be there later. Don’t let technology steal those moments that will last a lifetime.
Shneur Garb is the CEO of the Garb IT Consulting Group in Teaneck , NJ. For questions and comments, email [email protected]
By Shneur Garb